Claycastle, Co. Cork, Ireland
The historic town of Youghal is situated in rural Co. Cork, approximately 50 km. east of Cork city. The popular seaside resort had a Pitch and Putt course at the Hilltop Hotel in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The plans of the hotel owners changed and the Pitch and Putt course was lost.
Some intrepid local pioneers were determined to keep Pitch and Putt alive in Youghal. Noel O' Driscoll R.I.P., Moira Curtin, Denis O' Connell, Tom McCarthy, Daisy Swayne R.I.P. and Angela Pomphrett were among the driving forces behind a new course. Construction work began on what was marshland in 1985 at a cost of £50.000 and the new course was unveiled on 8th August 1986. Claycastle club was established in 1986 and the very first competition played was the Aherne Shield. 340 cards were taken out and Michael Shiels jnr. was the eventual winner.
Claycastle course is considered to be one of the finest but toughest in Ireland. The cognoscenti believe it's less about the birdies fired at Claycastle but more about avoiding the double bogeys and worse.
The 57 metre, Index 2 third has wreaked much havoc since 1986. Many, many players will be relieved to arrive on the 4th tee having scored a three at the third and survived its uphill pitch to a severely sloping green.
Index One hole at Claycastle is the 16th. A tough teeshot uphill to a two tier green is required. Pitch short and you potentially face a daunting 20 metre chip up the same hill!
The Index 3 60 metre 13th is a monster in high winds. And high winds blow regularly, at coastal Claycastle. The bunker short of the green is often busy. One simply cannot miss the green left!
The 11th measures just 36 metres. Nominally Index 8, any hole that is referred to as "'Doom and Gloom" by the locals must be respected. Two cavernous grass bunkers short of the green leave little margin for error.
If one wishes to score around Claycastle, holes 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 generally need to be exploited. They offer good birdie opportunities. Sometimes, it's about building a score through these holes and hanging on elsewhere.
Having proved its worth as a big championship venue when John Walsh won the 2011 Munster Matchplay, Claycastle will for the first time (in June 2012) host the National Matchplay Championships. Everyone in Claycastle is hugely looking forward to this landmark event. Claycastle may boast some of the main protagonists. Anthony O'Loughlin won the All Ireland Strokeplay championship last year and he'll be joined by fellow Claycastle member Paudie O'Sullivan. Paudie and Anthony were key members of Cork's all-conquering Inter-County team in 2010.
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