Course of the Month

January 2009

Larkspur Park, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland Ireland

On the The Green in historic Cashel, in the Irish midlands, lies a Pitch and Putt masterpiece. Surrounded by tall trees and dotted with well-pruned bushes and lovingly-tended flowers is one of Ireland's top courses. Cashel stands deep in a hotbed of another of Ireland's most popular sports, hurling, but has also become something of a mecca for Pitch and Putt enthusiasts.

Cashel's Town Park is named Larkspur - after the winner of the 1962 Epsom Derby whose owner, Raymond Guest (USA Ambassador to Ireland, 1965 -1968) donated the park. The horse was trained at Ballydoyle stables (just outside Cashel) by the man who left an indelible mark on the world racing scene, Vincent O'Brien. Vincent O'Brien is now retired. Vincent is no relation to his namesake, Aidan O'Brien, but Aidan is carrying on the great horse racing training tradition at Ballydoyle, recording unprecedented successes on the racecourses of the world. Larkspur Park Pitch and Putt course certainly deserves global renown.

Cashel has a very ancient history. The Rock of Cashel, traditional seat seat of the Kings of Munster, with its well preserved ecclesiastical remains, is one of Ireland's most spectacular landmarks, rising above the surrounding plain. The Cathedral and castle, perched on a dramatic outcrop of rock, were silent witnesses to many of the stirring events of Irish History; St.Patrick converted the local King Aenghus, here in the 5th century; Brian Boru was crowned King of Ireland on this spot in the early 11th Century. The site, one of the most visited in Ireland, now provides an interpretative centre, (multiingual) an interesting museum, guided tours and superb views over the extensive and beautiful plains of Tipperary. Larkspur Park is clearly visible from the famous Rock just as one can study the Rock in a quiet moment during a round at Larkspur Park.

As well as the Pitch and Putt course, the Larkspur Park complex boasts four outdoor all weather surface tennis courts along with Badminton & Squash Courts. The clubrooms are lavish and extensive and the visitors are assured of a typically hospitable Tipperary welcome.

Larkspur Park is a wonderful course in a beautiful setting. The eighteenth is Larkspur Park's most famous hole. Sixty metres long, it was ever a tricky assignment. However, since Brian Webster re-designed it in 2002, its fame has spread. Brian added a water feature. The 18th green is now ringed by water and that certainly makes for exciting finishes to the rounds. Many players name the 18th as their favourite hole of all courses. The long uphill second is another standout hole. All around the course, excellent use is made of the rolling terrain with a thrilling variety of sidehill, downhill and uphill pitches. Subtly sloping greens complete a very thorough test of Pitch and Putt.

Such is the quality of the Larkspur Park course that it has been in regular demand as a venue for the major Irish championships. Host to the 1994 National Juvenile Strokeplay championships, Larkspur Park has also seen action in the Inter-County championships (1997 and 2008), National Mixed Foursomes (2004) and National Men's Strokeplay championship (2006).

Some important international trials have been held at Larkspur Park and the popular Co. Tipperary course attracts many repeat visitors for its annual Scratch Cup and Juvenile Open.

Larkspur Park's greenkeeper (on a voluntary basis) is Brian Webster, who played for Ireland in their European championship victory at Overbetuwe in 2005. Brian is a former Irish Boys' Strokeplay champion (1994 on his beloved Larkspur Park) and is a professional greenkeeper - he works at the nearby Dundrum House Golf Club. Brian has tended the greens at Larkspur Park for more than a decade. The greens generally run quite fast on the stimpmeter and are universally held to be some of the best in Irish Pitch and Putt.