Dooks; A natural links beauty… playing with your children…and other thoughts
As the name suggests Dooks is almost royal. It might not be seen as one of the aristocrats of golf courses but it is certainly highborn. You will be making an egregious error if you miss this course when you travel to the west coast of Ireland.
This is a beautiful and natural links setting. The sea encroaches on two flanks and there are rolling links and gentle inclines across the course with plenty of space between holes to hold the sky to yourself. The views of the course and those from the course are panoramic encompassing snow on McGillcuddy Reeks, surfers at Inch beach across the estuary and the mountains beyond.
We had raced across from Cork to make the last available tee time and so enjoyed a still and softly lit evening trying to uncoil after a Ryanair flight and a Peugeot packed with luggage. So it took a couple of holes to get the game head on and we benefited from the less than penal rough when shots went astray. The ground was soft and we were requested to use mats on the fairway so that they could recover after a long winter. The greens too were coming out of their winter hibernation. It will be glorious come the summer but as befits a true links course the springy, sandy turf plays well throughout the year.
My, non playing, daughter stopped atop the fourth tee, the hole sadly out of commission due to encroaching sand and repair work, and drew beautiful sketches of the views. At least one of us was an artist in form.
My sons don’t play as often as I do but being innate sportsmen they hit the ball with, mainly, controlled ferocity and it does make me wonder why I bother. However guile and good temper are not to be under rated and playing with your children is very heaven. I know of one friend whose mother was an exceptional player and passed on all that was best in her game but refused to play with her son at the point at which she feared she might be beaten.
Fortunately I get more pleasure from playing with my children than from the result. Mind you when I get on the wrong end of a 6 and 5 thumping I reserve the right to change the subject, or, my mind! And the way I see it, it is good for them to learn how to enjoy the game more than the result. Losing comes to all of us at regular intervals and if one learns to subjugate the despair at your own game with the beauty of the links then you will never waste a day on the course.
Peter Ustinov was a more competitive tennis player than his physique allowed and when winning the toss at tennis he always gave the serve away so that when asked about the result he could declare ‘in the early stages the game went with the serve’ and then tail off into a more interesting story. In the early holes I held the honour…and then I saw a natterjack toad, well I didn’t but perhaps ought to have done as Dooks celebrates them and holds them as their emblem. However we did see hares aplenty which is a very rare sight in England.
From the 4th hole through 14 there are some wonderfully mellifluous holes winding around, through and over dunes requiring many different shots and strategies, so real satisfaction can be drawn from pars on the single figure stroke index holes. It is not as demanding as Waterville or one of the big competition tracks but it is a joy to play. As a family it was deemed one of the very best.
A cursory glance at the club website will tell you how the railway brought the club to life and the members then bought the land and largely built the course themselves before the Hawtree re-design. More recently they have bought more coastal land which would allow the less interesting holes on the higher, more agricultural ground, to be replaced by holes nearer the sea. As soon as they do I will be racing back. Or for any other excuse/reason I can find.
We looped around the bay to stay at Inch Beach which is a golden strand running south towards Dooks from the Dingle peninsula. And there there were oysters and Guinness and a sleepy pillow. I slept a happy man. We walked a section of the beach in glorious sunshine the following morning and marvelled at the opportunity of such fine weather in March. We definitely caught a little sun.
My daughter stayed to tutor English to a Chinese girl in Shanghai via Skype while we set off to the westernmost course in Ireland. The land of Star Wars.