By Michael Williams
There is no shortage of spectacular golf in Ireland; indeed, the bucket list of many golfers is peppered with destinations on the Emerald Isle. But with the opening of Robert Trent Jones II’s Hogs Head, every list was just extended one line.
Located in County Kerry just outside the town of Waterville (home of the acclaimed links of the same name), Hogs Head is a reimagining of the modest links course that previously occupied the site. Set into the cliffs adjacent to the Irish coastline and featuring the tallest mountains in the country as a backdrop, Hogs Head boasts vistas that are so beautiful they could be set to music.
The course is just under 7,200 yards from the back tees, but plays considerably longer depending on the weather conditions. The fairways are broad and undulating, with native fescue and a firm sandy base combining to give an authentic links experience. The greens are also fescue, and large and contoured enough to accommodate pin positions ranging from generous to diabolical.
Jones is a master of combining the classic and the unconventional. Among the features of Hogs Head is an homage to the opening hole at Carnoustie (No. 9) and a huge shared green—for the 11th and the 14th—that nods to St. Andrews. The strength of any RTJII course is the par threes, and the five at Hogs Head are equal parts beauty and danger, especially the windblown 13th with its two greens that rotate to keep members guessing.
The motto of the course is “built by friends, for friends, for fun.” With its combination of beauty, challenge, and versatility, Hogs Head fulfills that promise.