Craig Morrison tells us about researching and writing 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes, a book which The Wall Street Journal called ‘sumptuous’ and ‘superb’ and which Forbes Magazine called ‘an instant collectible’. The publishing company – 18 Greatest Golf – aims to produce the world’s most beautiful golf books.
I’ve been lucky enough to spend much of the last two years golfing in Ireland. My wife asks me when I’ll get a proper job…
I’ve made at least 18 great friends in putting this book together, about 400 additional enemies too… Really, there can be no certain 18 greatest golf holes in any country, but these are very strong contenders and the purpose of bringing them together has been to present them better than other books do, aesthetically that is.
18 Greatest Golf is a Scottish / American company and I’m Scottish and bow to no man in my love of Scotland and its golf courses. But I’m nonetheless able to say that Ireland has been a thrill, not to mention a complete hoot. The Irish reputation for hospitality, charm and fun is well deserved. If I wasn’t a Scotsman I’d be proud to be an Irishman… And the golf on offer is remarkable.
Here are the 18 which made the cut:
The European Club, 7th hole, par-4
Lahinch Golf Club, Old Course, 6th hole, par-4
The K Club, Palmer Ryder Cup Course, 16th hole, par-5
Tralee Golf Club, 16th hole, par-3
Enniscrone Golf Club, The Dunes, 16th hole, par-5
Lough Erne, The Faldo Course, 10th hole, par-4
Druid’s Glen, 13th hole, par-4
Portmarnock Golf Club, 15th hole, par-3
Royal County Down Golf Club, 9th hole, par-4
Adare Golf Club, 13th hole, par-4
Old Head Golf Links, 12th hole, par-5
Royal Portrush Golf Club, 14th hole, par-3
Rosapenna, Sandy Hills Links, 6th hole, par-4
Ballyliffin Golf Club, Glashedy Links, 13th hole, par-5
Doonbeg Golf Club, 14th hole, par-3
Waterville Golf Links, 11th hole, par-5
Ballybunion Golf Club, 11th hole, par-4
Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, Mahony’s Point, 18th hole, par 3
What’s my favourite golf hole amongst them? Well, it really ought to be from one of the seaside courses: there are 12 links holes and 6 inland holes in the book and it’s links golf which thrills me the most. Yet, if really pressed, if I had to give an answer – and it could be different tomorrow – I might just say the final hole on Mahoney’s Point at the spectacularly appointed Killarney Golf & Fishing Club. Mahony’s Point is probably the least demanding of the three courses the club boasts but its 18th is the most memorable hole there. It plays across a corner of Lough Leane. The McGillicuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range, stand tall behind it. A par 3 closing hole might be something of an architectural anomaly, not always something to admire. But here it is the perfect finish. And people cannot help coming back for more. Killarney sells more visitor rounds each year than any other club in Ireland.
Truth is though, I have no favourites! The selected 18 holes aren’t specifically my choices. They’re the sum of the hundreds of interviews we carried out. But every hole which features in the book has found a place in my heart!
Here’s what Padraig Harrington had to say about some of the holes in his foreword:
“All the holes featured are, in one way or another, fabulous.
“Some of these holes are very difficult: the 15th at Portmarnock, one of the best par 3s in the world, has a simple design yet it is one of the most treacherous short holes going. Set against the coastline, in the prevailing right to left wind, many a time I have had to start my tee shot out over the beach. The 7th at The European Club is a fantastic par 4 and perhaps the toughest hole in Irish golf.
“Even the shortest hole in the book, the slip of a par 3 14th at Doonbeg, where I played the course’s inaugural round with architect Greg Norman, is extremely exacting, so short as to have a hypnotic effect on the golfer and proving that a hole does not need length to be considered great. It is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s very best.
“All the holes included are unique and I’m sure selected for different reasons: the 13th at Adare Manor, set within the towering trees, was always destined to be a golf hole; the par 3 14th at Portrush, aptly named Calamity Corner, sometimes requires a driver just to reach; the 16th at the K Club is a great risk/reward hole; with the reachable par 4 10th at Lough Erne tempting the player to take a driver from the tee to hit the green sitting out in the Lough.
“Of those selected, the 9th at Royal County Down is perhaps the most photographed hole in Irish Golf and without which this book would not be complete.”
About Producing 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes
We worked with a photographer as well as an artist and designer who could bring something different, something better, to the world of golf publishing.
Killarney Golf & Fishing Club – Mahoney’s Point
The photography is carefully treated but entirely unfiltered, natural. John Kernick, our photographer, composes wonderful images, finding the right and real amounts of light and shade too. His portraiture is unstaged and striking. Crucially, John is also a work-horse because producing these books requires endless early mornings and late nights, weather watching too. Not that I’m looking for sympathy: in all the world there can be few better jobs, but never tell anyone that when I’m taking off on the next project, golf clubs in the trunk.
Our artist, Siobhan Hardy Royer, is also the art director on shoots and our designer when it comes to the task of publishing these things. We think her sketches are simple but stunning and hopefully her design and layout of the volumes themselves sets them apart.
18 Greatest Scottish Golf Holes & 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes are published by 18 Greatest Golf.
18 Greatest Scottish Golf Holes is introduced by Colin Montgomerie, 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes by Padraig Harrington. They contain no stock shots, historical images or previously seen work of any kind. Just one photographer and one artist produce the books’ visual content. The books, along with limited edition prints from them, can be purchased by visiting www.18greatestgolf.com.
Just 3,000 copies of 18 Greatest Scottish Golf Holes were produced, followed by 5,000 hand-numbered copies of 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes. The books were printed, bound and hand-finished by the world’s finest print house, EBS Bortolazzi in Verona, Italy. They can be shipped speedily worldwide.
Please note the above photographs are courtesy of Greatest 18 Golf and John Kernick.