Rocklodge, Co. Cork, Ireland
An epitome of an Irish Pitch and Putt success, Rocklodge, has a clubhouse and superb course, owned completely by the club. The course lies on a lovely Co. Cork rural stretch just beyond Healy's Bridge, dotted with cottages, bungalows and a quota of mini-mansions,
The Rocklodge course has for decades been rated one of the leading championship courses in Ireland. It has hosted many All-Ireland championships and major competitions since it was formed in 1946. No fewer than 24 times, the PPUI has honoured Rocklodge with being the host venue of an Irish Pitch and championship or event. That's more than any other course in history.
The first time that Rocklodge Pitch and Putt Club appeared in legal documents was in 1950, when C.J. Lehane rented, for 14 years, to Rockodge's founder members, the land which is now the Rocklodge course. The second time the name appeared is when Benjamin Alan Haughton sold the 5.5 acres to the Club for £2,500 in 1972. The course is situated on a scenic hillside at the edge of a wood, looking across a steep valley, facing north. Although in the heart of the countryside, Rocklodge is not far from the busy towns of Blarney and Ballincollig.
When one looks today at the layout of the greens, fairways, bunkers and tee box positions, one can quickly see that a lot of creative thought and planning went into the design of the course. In 1946, the founding members acquired the use of the lower course and laid out a 9 hole Pitch and Putt course, of which only one green remains today - that is the championship 11th, which was played from the nearby 14th tee box of today's course. The amount of work in shaping a steep and rocky field into what it appears today was colossal and the present members will always be indebted to them for this work.
Under the guidance of the founder members and many committees, negotiations were held to purchase the course and build a new club house, at a cost of £20,000. This feat of fundraising by hard working committees was achieved by 1977. Over the years, the club members who helped to shape the club as it is today, deserve all the praise one can muster, and so too do the members who brought acclaim to the club in outside competition.
A major driving force during those tough early times and right up to the present time must be the O'Riordan family, from Johnny O'Riordan up to the present legendary T.J. O'Riordan.
Most of the holes at Rocklodge are either uphill or downhill so distance control is important. The greens in Rocklodge tend to be on the small side and many are hidden or part hidden from the tee.
There are many fine holes. The 6th at 65 metres is the longest hole on the course. The pitch is played over a large shrub making this a completely blind pitch to a flat green with an extra high pin! Then there's the quirky 16th. It's a throwback to some of the early Cork courses. A tiny 24 metre pitch over a bunker, the green falls off the right side but this hole should produce a birdie.
The 9th features a 44m uphill pitch to a blind green with a bunker short. A solitary tree on the left side of the fairway may be problematic for a mishit ball. The 50m 13th is another splendid teeshot! This large green sits roughly 15 metres below the tee box level and many a heart will be in mouth while the ball is airborne towards this well-guarded green.
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