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Mount Wolseley

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Mount Wolseley,
Tullow, Carlow
Tel : 0503-51674 - Fax : 0503-52123

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      02.07.2004 19:22
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      ~ ~ The following is a quote from Christy O?Connor Junior, the highly respected Irish professional golfer and designer of the Mount Wolseley Golf Club. ?Rarely after a first look around a potential site for a golf course had I been so impressed as at Mount Wolseley, not just with the ideal and natural roll of the ground itself, but also with the magnificence of this delightful rural countryside. It is an idyllic location that, no doubt, influenced the Wolseley family when they built the present house here almost a century and a half ago. What we have here at Mount Wolseley is a fair but testing eighteen holes of championship golf, none of which will disappoint even the most discerning player.? I concur wholeheartedly with the above quote from Christy. In my personal opinion, you would be hard pushed to find a better golf course in the whole of Ireland. What?s more, as I write this review in late June 2004, the green fees (?50 midweek) are exceptionally cheap, making the course an absolute must for any golfer visiting this lovely part of Ireland. What?s more, the facilities offered along with the par 72 Championship golf course are truly fantastic, and are about to improve even more with the opening of a brand new 4 star hotel in August 2004 to compliment the existing hotel, club house, and leisure facility. But more on this later. First let?s concentrate on what makes Mount Wolseley so special as far as the mad cabbie is concerned; the truly magnificent golf links. ~ ~ Mount Wolesley is a relatively new golf course (early 1990?s) but is built on a very old country estate that was owned for generations by the Wolesley family, who made their family fortune building Wolesley motor cars. (Anyone remember them? I certainly do, as the first car I ever owned was a 1959 Wole sley 15/60, an ex-police car that I purchased for £67.50 way back in 1968!) The Wolesley family home (the Manor) which dates back 150 years is still on the estate, and is now open to the public. But the grounds have now been turned into a golf course that is the equal of any other parkland course in the country, and I include the likes of the K-Club in Straffan (venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup match) and Mount Juliet in Co. Kilkenny when I make this assertion. Rolling terrain, with many natural falls and rises, large mature trees, and lakes have all been incorporated into the golf course, and where mother nature didn?t supply the necessary level of difficulty, then Christy O?Connor and his design team have stepped in and given her a helping hand. ~ ~ From the medal tees the course stretches to a muscle stretching 7206 yards in length. But for a more relaxed (and slightly easier) round, then there are also white and yellow tees, (and red for the ladies) which make the course that little bit more forgiving for the average golfer. I first played this course just after it opened back in the early 1990?s, and have been a regular visitor ever since, my most recent visit being this past Sunday (27/6/04) to play in a Scratch Cup. (The best gross score on the day wins; no handicaps or stableford points) I played from the medal tees (full length) and it was the hardest test of golf I have played this year without exception. (But also the most enjoyable.) ~ ~ If you can get through the first four holes at Mount Wolesley without wrecking your scorecard, then you are playing well. I reckon this opening stretch is about the hardest you will find anywhere in the country, and they come right at the very beginning of your round, before you?ve really had a chance to loosen up tight, tense muscles, and ease yourself graduall y into the round. The 1st and 2nd holes are two very difficult par-4?s, measuring 411 yards and 447 yards respectively, but the two holes that stand out are the 3rd and 4th. ~ ~ The 3rd hole is 447 yards in length, but trouble abounds along its whole length. For starters, you have to carry the ball over 200 yards even to find the fairway with your drive. Then you have trees lining the right hand side of the fairway for about 150 yards, while the fairway itself slopes sharply from left to right, thus your ball invariably breaks towards the trouble when it strikes ground. If that wasn?t enough, there are two fairway bunkers (sand traps) at 200 yards and 230 yards from the tee, which will catch you out even if you do manage to avoid the trees. The ideal tee shot is up the left hand edge of the fairway, but even here you can?t always avoid trouble, as there is yet another strategically placed bunker at the 248 yards mark. I hit a belter of a drive about 280 yards down the left hand side of the fairway, managing to avoid the aforementioned bunker, and putting myself in an ideal position to attack the elevated green 165 yards or so in the distance. But I didn?t even attempt the shot! Starting at 100 yards from the green is a large lake, which cuts into the fairway on the right hand side, and which you have to carry in order to get your ball onto the putting surface. Your approach shot has to be hit with bullet like precision to even have a chance of success, and I?ve been in the water on this hole on too many occasions in the past. So instead I elected to play a ?safe? little 8 iron down into a little gully on the left hand side of the fairway just before the green, and take my chances on making a par-4 with a pitch and single putt. (I managed it incidentally, holing a cracker of a putt of around 20 feet!) ~ ~ The 4th hole is a par-4 measuring a paltry 273 yards in length, but don?t let its lack of yards fool you into thinking that it?s in any way simple! It runs in the opposite direction to the 3rd hole on the other side of a large mound, and again your tee shot breaks sharply from left to right when it hits the fairway. The hole doglegs acutely from left to right, and is protected on the right hand side of the fairway by an enormous bunker, on the other side of which is a huge lake. So nobody (not even the Tiger Wood?s of this world) is going to be taking a pop at this green with their drive, unless, of course, they are certifiably insane! Again, the best drive is up the left hand edge of the fairway, but just to keep you honest, there are three bunkers here as well to catch out the player who tries to play too safe. A good tee shot (which I hit) will leave you with only a wedge to the green, but even then your problems are only starting. The green is well protected with bunkers at the front, and the lake is literally only a few feet from the putting surface on the right hand side. On Sunday past they had the hole cut only 6 feet from the right hand side of the green and thus only feet away from the water hazard. If that wasn?t bothersome enough, it was only a few feet over one of the front bunkers, and the green itself slopes very sharply from left to right, throwing your ball towards the lake on the first bounce. The safe shot (which I played, coward that I am!) is onto the upper tier of the green on the left. But you are then left with an almost impossible long putt down a steep slope. The putt I was left with was all of 120 feet in length, and even tickling the golf ball with the putter, I was still only able to get the ball within 12 feet of the hole, and just missed the putt coming back. But I was happy enough with a bogey 5 (one over par) as I have literally seen golfers PUTT their ball into the lake on this tricky little mon ster of a hole! ~ ~ When you turn into the back nine, the degree of difficulty is every bit as severe. The two holes that I like the best (maybe ?like? is the wrong choice of word, heh, heh) are the par-3 eleventh hole and the par-4 thirteenth. The 11th measures 207 yards, which is long for a par-3, especially when you consider that you have to carry the golf ball all of 192 yards in the air before you clear the water in the large lake that protects the green! From the everyday yellow tee, which is positioned to the left of the Championship tee, it is slightly shorter, and a bit easier, with the water not coming into play to the same extent. The green itself is banked sharply from left to right, and the safe shot is to play away from the water to its left hand edge with a slight fade. (Not the best shot in the mad cabbie?s armoury!) Instead I tried to play a draw (right to left shaped shot) actually starting my ball out over the lake, and drawing it back towards the putting surface. Disaster!! I hit the far bank, but instead of jumping up to the pin (as I intended) the ball decided to go for a swim instead. Five minutes later I had recorded a double bogey 5 on my scorecard. (Two over par) Even if you play safe up the left hand side, there are two bunkers you have to avoid at the edge of the green, and even if you do manage to find the putting surface, you can still be left with a incredibly long putt down a steep slope towards the water. (Not good for the old nerves!) I can consider myself in good company though. Local legend has it that when the course designer (the aforementioned Christy O?Connor Jnr.) played this hole in an exhibition to mark the opening of the golf course, he dumper no fewer than THREE golf balls straight into the lake! ~ ~ The 14th hole is a par-4 measuring only 339 yards, and is considered to be the easiest hole on the golf course. (At least according to the scorecard, where it?s given an index 18) My own impression is that they have got it wrong, as I personally find this hole far from easy. The main problem is the tee shot. The fairway drops sharply from an elevated tee down into a gully, and at about the 150 yard mark there is a small stream, with very large trees on both the left and right hand sides. The problem here is that these damned trees catch your attention as soon as you walk onto the hole, and seem to have some sort of device attached to them to attract golf balls! I?ve hit my drive into these trees on numerous occasions, and they can be a real score wrecker. The trick on this hole is to have the courage to give your drive a ?lash?. Simply stand up there, ignore the trees, and let it rip. If you can do this, then there is even the possibility of driving this par-4 and possibly making an eagle two. On Sunday past, my playing partner actually managed to hit his drive to the front edge of the green, but unfortunately took three more shots to get it into the hole. But take care! There is an out of bounds all the way down the right hand side of the fairway to catch out the pushed or sliced drive, and a bunker at the 267 yard mark to swallow up a good drive hit to the left. ~ ~ I?ve given you just a taster of the many challenges that await you if you decide to try out this magnificent golf course, and a breakdown of my own personal favourite holes. But the truth is that there simply isn?t what you would call an ?easy? hole on the whole golf course, and it presents a challenge of epic proportions. Needless to say, the course is maintained to a very high standard. The fairways are manicured, the rough is tough and clings to your golf ball, the sand in the bunkers is soft and fine, and the putting greens are a pure delight. ~ ~ The off-course faci lities are the equal of the course itself. At present, the golf club shares a clubhouse with the hotel, with a separate area for the golf reception and professional?s shop, where you can purchase a full range of golf accoutrements and souvenirs of your visit. (Balls, jumpers, tee shirts, etc with the Mount Wolesley logo) You can also hire a ride-on buggy or electric trolley to make your trip round the golf course that wee bit easier, and a nice touch (that I?ve never seen in Ireland before) is you can hire an electronic distance gadget with your buggy that gives you the precise yardage of any shot you are faced with on the links. (It?s illegal to use this device in competition play though.) ~ ~ In August 2004 they plan to open a brand new 4-star hotel with over 150 bedrooms to cope with increased demand. Even as it stands, the hotel and golf facilities are straight out of the top drawer. The present hotel and clubhouse is beautifully appointed, with a magnificent staircase leading from the ground floor up to the bar, carvery, and dining room. You can dine a la carte, or opt for a fine meal from the carvery at about the ?15 mark. (The meal was included in my ?40 entrance fee for the competition last Sunday!) They have a leisure centre with a pool and full gym facilities, a tennis court, a kiddie?s play area, and 28 four-star self-catering holiday villas for anyone who fancies spending an extended holiday in the region. They also have a conference centre and meeting rooms for any company that wishes to hold a corporate event here. Here?s a list of their facilities. List of facilities: · 20 metre deck level Swimming Pool · Seated Hydrotherapy area · Counter Flow Massage Unit · Kiddies Pool with Fountain · Sauna · Steam Room · Whirlpool Spa · Fitness testing · &# 65;ir Conditioned Gym · Technology Fitness Equipment · Fitness Classes · Turbo Solarium · Beauty Therapy rooms · Tennis Court · Childrens Play Area · Snooker & Pool Rooms I haven?t gone into huge detail about the hotel and its facilities, as this review is primarily about the golf course itself. But if you wish to explore more then they have an excellent and comprehensive website at http://www.mountwolseley.ie where you can browse at your leisure. ~ ~ This truly outstanding golf course and hotel come with the highest possible recommendation from the mad cabbie. I am currently the President of a Golf Society here in Dublin composed primarily of ex-drinkers, and on Sunday I booked the course for my President?s Prize in early September at an all inclusive cost of around ?70 per head. I can hardly wait to return. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ If anyone fancies a short break at Mount Wolesley, they currently have some fantastic mid-week and weekend breaks on offer. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Weekend Offer: 2 x B&B with 1 Dinner - ?150 per person sharing a double/twin room. 2 x B&B with 1 Dinner & 1 Round of Golf - ?200 per person sharing a double/twin room. Mid-week Offer: 1 B&B with 1 Dinner - ?75 per person sharing a double/twin room. 2 B&B with 1 Dinner - ?110 per person sharing a double/twin room ~~~~~~~~~~~~ COST OF GOLF AND TEE-TIMES Sunday to Thursday inclusive: ?50 per round Friday and Saturday: ?70 per round Summer: Weekdays 10.30am - 4.30pm. Sundays 11.00am - 3.00pm Winter: Weekdays 10.30am -12.30pm Sundays 10 .30am -12.30pm ~~~~~~~~~~~~ GETTING THERE 50 miles from Dublin and 45 miles from Dublin Airport. Leave Dublin on the main N6 route towards Nass. Continue down the motorway to the Carlow exit. Follow the road for about 20 miles, and Tullow (and the course) is sign posted. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ ADDRESS AND CONTACT DETAILS Mount Wolseley Golf & Country Club Tullow, Co. Carlow , Ireland Tel: +353 59 91 51674 Fax: +353 59 91 52123 E-mail: sales@mountwolseley.ie ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © KenJ July 2004 ~~~~~~~~~~~~

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