Deep in the lush Co. Meath countryside, roughly halfway between the provincial towns of Drogheda and Navan, lies a parkland Pitch and Putt gem. Stackallens mature course, with its superbly manicured fairways and greens, sits just a few kilometres from historic Slane Castle, host to many headline rock acts over the years. Majestically framed by tall trees and trim hedgerows, Stackallen has been bewitching visitors for upwards of forty years. Stackallens rural idyll belies its situation just 50 kilometres from downtown Dublin (Irelands capital). It will attract huge galleries when the 2007 Irish Matchplay finals are played at Stackallen.
Stackallen started life in 1951 as a tennis club when some locals rented land from the Crinion family and laid out two courts. In 1963, the old McKeever Estate was taken over by the Irish Land Commission. Stackallen rented seven acres from the Land Commission and built the Pitch and Putt course. In 1967, the club availed of the opportunity to purchase the land for £700!
The layout of the Pitch and Putt course has changed very little since 1967. The club now boasts six tennis courts. Stackallen Tennis and Pitch and Putt club has 300 members who hail from a wide catchment area, ranging from Navan, Dunshaughlin, Slane, Drogheda and Ardee.
Sean Downes is perhaps Stackallens most famous son. Downes has won five Irish titles. He is now Club Chairman (as well as being Vice President of the PPUI) but his game remains as good as ever. Sean will represent Ireland in the 2007 European team championship in Chia, Sardinia.
Downes holds the course record with a thirteen under par 41. The local legend compiled this score in 1992, the year he won his first Irish Matchplay title. The round featured two aces in a three hole stretch, at the 10th and 12th.
Stackallen first hosted an Irish championship in 1974 when Royal Meaths Maureen Rusk clinched the Ladies Strokeplay. Ten years later, Pauline Gleeson of Royal Meath won her Ladies Strokeplay crown around Stackallen with 103. Fermoys John Cahill covered Stackallen in 140 to take the 2001 Irish Mens Strokeplay while Meath pairing Ian Farrelly (recent winner of the International Open at La Grande Motte) and Ann Hall were victorious in the 2003 Irish Mixed Foursomes at Stackallen. Every time, Stackallen has been a true championship test. Not for them the heavily watered greens, which turn some tournaments into putting tests. Stackallen calls for something different the ability to think out and manufacture shots and the events prospered as a result.
The first nine are mostly played away from the clubhouse up a gentle incline. At the top of the hill, the course turns for home and the back nine is played mostly downhill. It is generally accepted that the homeward run plays a couple of shots more difficult. The 70 metre Index 1 4th plays uphill all the way with both bunkers very much in play. Anywhere on the green above the hole leaves a devilish putt. The 18th, although measuring just 48 metres, is a very difficult assignment with trouble all around. Theres a yawning bunker short right, a tree on the left edge of the green and a big fall over the back.
Round over, players always enjoy visiting the large hospitable clubhouse. Many a tale and many a joke have been shared in the bar over the years.