In yesterday’s travel feature, Golfers Local editor PAUL CHAPPLE wrote about his experiences of playing and staying in the Kilkenny region of South East Ireland. In this article he describes what it was like spending a few days in neighbouring Wexford when he played Rosslare Golf Links, St Helen’s Bay, Bunclody and Courtown as well as visiting Wexford Golf Club and staying in the Clayton Whites Hotel.
MY COUNTY Wexford visit began with a trip to the beautiful Rosslare Golf Links where I met up with Club Choice Ireland’s Tiernan Byrne, who also happens to be a member there, for lunch before I went out to test my game in the ever strengthening coastal winds.
It was fantastic to see Tiernan for the first time since the pandemic and he was more excited than ever to show off some of the wonderful courses Club Choice Ireland offer as part of their packages. He was also quick to point out that this most south easterly tip of Ireland was also officially the country’s sunniest area.
Myself and Tiernan were delighted to be joined for a pre-round sandwich by the general manager at Rosslare Links, Jerry Foley. Jerry was able to give me some history of the 120-year-old course and some much needed tips for playing in the windy conditions that lay ahead on what is the only links course in the region.
Situated on a narrow, sandy peninsula overlooking Wexford Harbour, the club is home to two unique and challenging courses. The championship ‘Old Course’, established in 1905, and the 12-hole “Burrow Links’ course.
I was playing the Old Course and was reliably informed that the coastal winds are what makes Rosslare play differently every single time you play it. With a strong wind straight behind on six of the first seven holes I was hitting some abnormally long distances by my mediocre standards. I knocked it on the 513-yard par five third hole with a drive and a five iron and narrowly missed my eagle putt. I then hit a driver and wedge through the green at stroke hole one – the 436-yard fifth. The sixth and seventh holes were two more cracking holes, with the par five seventh being a real gem at 550 yards through the sand dunes.
I now had to turn back into the wind and found my distances were not quite as impressive, to say the least! I hit my best driver and then a three wood to the 400-yard ninth and still had more than 100 yards left to the green! I then hit a good three wood on the 170-yard 10th hole and was short of the putting surface again.
This was brutal golf, but also still incredibly enjoyable and before I knew it I was playing the lovely par five 18th hole that features an old stone wall that runs right across the back of the 18th green and separates it from the first fairway.
Having dried off briefly in the clubhouse I still had a spare hour or so of daylight so, rather than head straight to my hotel for the night, I popped over to St Helen’s Bay Golf Resort to say a quick hello to Tiernan’s dad Larry, who lives over that way and also works alongside his son for Club Choice Ireland.
Larry suggested I borrow a buggy and play, what an Irish journalist recently described as “the two best finishing holes in Irish golf!” It’s some claim, but boy I wouldn’t disagree.
Both holes are located just a few paces from the clifftop and play back towards the modern clubhouse. The 17th is a 200+ yard par three and the 18th a short par four. With the beach in such close proximity anything left is a real no no.
I actually hit two really good tee shots but then somehow managed to tug my 80-yard approach to the last left into the thick stuff.
With the rain still pouring down and the wind still howling, I promised myself one day I’ll return in kinder conditions and play the full 18. For now it was almost dusk and I headed 25 minutes north into Wexford City Centre for my night at the Clayton Whites Hotel.
Renowned as one of the best four star hotels in the country, it’s the prefect base if you are playing golf in the region.
I checked in, had a nice hot shower and headed straight for the Library Bar for a couple of drinks before enjoying a beautiful two-course dinner of slow cooked beef stew with a puff pastry top followed by a gorgeous mango and passion fruit delice.
Tiernan had recommended The Undertaker Bar just round the corner from Clayton Whites so I spent the last hour of my evening sampling their fabulous Guinness before heading back to my room in preparation for my 8.30am visit the following day to have a quick look at Wexford Golf Club before heading off to play at Bunclody and then Courtown.
Wexford Golf Club was just five minutes’ drive from the hotel and was upgraded in 2006 by architect Jeff Howes.
The parkland course and modern clubhouse are located at the top of Mulgannon Hill and offer magnificent town and sea views.
I was disappointed my schedule didn’t give me time to play, so I’ll add that to my list for my next trip. In the meantime I was heading north and slightly inland for a 45-minute drive to Bunclody Golf & Fishing Club.
Situated in 300 acres of breathtaking parkland in the former Hall-Dare Estate on the Carlow Wexford border, there is plenty of room for this fabulous, must-visit course.
Opened in 2009, it is already ranked in the top 20 parkland courses in Ireland and, in 2019, it hosted the Irish PGA Championship.
The course can play more than 7,000 yards in length and has a variety of holes rarely seen on one course. It also includes a lift that takes you from one green to the next tee, but more of that in a moment.
I started off on the white tees but after failing to reach the par five 558-yard uphill first after three good hits, I decided to play the other 17 holes from the friendlier green tees the members tend to use.
All the holes were fantastic in their own way but the ones I particularly found worthy of mention were the tough par three fifth hole which was more than 200 yards in length with water tight on the right.
Holes six to nine are then on a completely different piece of low lying flat land alongside the river. The setting on this lovely sunny day was just stunning and I was left wishing I’d brought a rug and picnic!
The back nine starts with four par fours and then starts the closing stretch that has to feature five of the best holes I have ever played. These include two gorgeous par threes, the second of which is the 166-yard 17th hole where I made a memorable birdie two after hitting my six iron to about three feet.
Having holed out on 17 you then walk 20 or 30 yards to the bottom of a steep hillside where a lift takes you 100 or so feet up to the 18th tee. It really is a fabulously quirky feature. The 18th is pretty memorable too as it sweeps down and to the right and all the way back to the circular shaped clubhouse.
Ready for a bite to eat, I headed into said clubhouse where I was greeted by general manager Caroline Dunne, who could not have been more helpful.
After a quick soup and sandwiches and a cup of tea I was ready to make my way back over to the east coast for a 40-minute drive to my final course of the trip – Courtown Golf Club.
With an hour or so to spare before I had to head off back to Dublin Port to catch my 8.30pm ferry home, I had a quick catch-up with Courtown’s general manager David Colley.
He was telling me how membership was up 25% this year and that the club were also getting an increasing number of UK golfers through bookings with Club Choice Ireland.
David suggested I head out and have a look around. I was immediately impressed. The fourth hole had lovely views and you could hear the sea from the fifth tee. The ninth was a strong par five that had two ditches going across it. The 12th was also a cracking par five with a pond in front and to the right of the green. The 15th was also a really good hole that had a huge tree in the centre of the fairway and a glimpse of the sea from the elevated tee.
The green on 17 was tucked away amongst nine large trees that momentarily caused me some confusion, but the 18th was an absolute gem of a par three almost entirely over water.
A shot into the heart of the green, two putts and a quick pint of Guinness in the clubhouse was the perfect end to my trip as I headed for Dublin and my Stena Line ferry back to Holyhead.
So if a golf trip to this part of Ireland is something that might be of interest, you would be best advised to contact Club Choice Ireland via email email@example.com, Freephone 0800 285 1490 or visit their website www.clubchoiceireland.com.
They truly are the experts in golf in Ireland’s Ancient East and given the glowing recommendations from the courses and hotels I visited; you will be in good hands.
To view new drone footage of Rosslare Links, visit