Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course

World Class Links Golf

Ballybunion’s Old Course is a World Top 20 Rated Golf Course, venue for the 2008 Murphy’s Irish Open, the Jacques Leglise Trophy In 2017 (Amateur boys team match between Great Britain and Ireland and the Continent of Europe ) and the ladies and girls Home Internationals in 2018.

Graeme was delighted to be appointed Ballybunion Golf Clubs Golf Course Architect in 2014.

In 2015,Graeme oversaw the renovation of all greens on the Old Course, replacing the old rootzone mix with one of clean dune sand ,reinstating the greens surfaces to a tolerance of 5mm, with pure Fescue turf, grown in the Clubs 2Ha turf nursery. Green surrounds were stripped of old turf with greenside bunkers being adjusted for conversion to revetted style, irrigation to the green sites were renewed and the green surrounds were re-turfed also with a pure Fescue turf.

The above renovation of the green sites were carried out in a very ambitious timescale of 3 months with Graeme working very closely with Course Manager John Bambury and local Golf Course Construction Contractor AGC (Atlantic Golf Construction).

The above renovation of the green sites were carried out in a very ambitious timescale of 3 months, with Graeme working very closely with Course Manager John Bambury and local Golf Course Construction Contractor AGC (Atlantic Golf Construction).

Following on from the very successful renovation of the green sites, Graeme has gone on to carry out many other design changes, upgrades and enhancements to the Old Course. The extent of these works can be fully appreciated by viewing the below attached plan.

“After playing Ballybunion for the first time, a man would think that the game originated there.”

Tom Watson

Plan showing the extent of  redesign, upgrade and enhancement works


Photograph showing redesigned and rebuilt 7th green site with its new dunescape and grass pathway to the 8th tees, ongoing works develop new green surrounds and surrounding dunescapes on the 8th hole and the rebuilding of the 10th greensite.

 2015/2016 projects including:

  • Design of new green site and approach for the 7th hole.Constructed new Dunescape around the new green site to disguise the 8th tees to the rear of the green. Constructed a new pathway to the 8th tees through the new Dunescape. Supervised the rebuilding of the 17 remaining green sites, renewing root zone and re-turfing the green and green surrounds with 100% fescue turf. Converted all green side bunkers to revetted style bunkers reshaping green surrounds as required.
  • Redesign of practice putting green, 1st tee area and reshaping of 1st hole to turning point, creating grass pathways through new links landscape creating enhanced and more appropriate intoduction to a world class golf course.
  • Redesign of tees on holes 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,13,14 and 15, sitting the tees into newly created dunescapes.
  • Creation of new dunes amphitheatre around the rear of the 5th green.
  • Re-landscaped the former ‘garden area’ of the 6th hole, creating a new links style landscape.
  • Reshaped area to rear of 6th green, lowering the built up ground between the 7th tees, creating an “infinite” look through to the Atlantic Ocean whilst playing the approach shot to the 6th green.
  • Reshaped and lowered the ground in front of the 7th tees to reveal view through to the fairway, moving the pathway closer to the cliff edge.
  • Realigned the 7th fairway to more “hug” the clifff edge.Lowered section of ridge line crossing the fairway, reshaping the approach to the green to afford golfers taking the “tiger line”, the advantage of seeing through to the green site.
  • Constructed new Dunescape around the 8th hole.Redesigned and rebuilt green surrounds, tying into the new Dunes.
  • Realigned the 13th hole, hugging the large dunes down the right side of the fairway. Re-landscaped the area between the 2nd and 13th fairways and the area short of Kitty’s River, re-defining the strategy of the 13th fairway and creating a more natural Links landscape on the approach to Kitty’s River and to the separation area between holes 2 and 13.
  • Installed new grass walkways at the 1st, 2nd ,3rd , 4th, 6th , 7th , 8th , 9th ,13th ,14th and 15th tee sites, sitting the pathways more into the natural landscape where possible and creating additional dunescape to form the paths as required.

2017/2018 projects including:

  • Redesign and complete rebuild of the 18th hole including:-
    • reconstruction of the greensite surrounded by a impressive new dunescape.
    • rebuilding of the tee-site creating individual platforms overlooking a sleepered coastline to the Atlantic Ocean.
    • redesign and rebuild of the iconic Sahara Bunker in a more natural form and strategic feature to the hole.
    • reshaping and rebuilding of fairway, green approach and roughs blending into rebuilt and enhanced bordering dunescapes.
  • Construction of new grass pathway, setting into dune landscape, from the 17th green to the new 18th tees and out to the 18th fairway, including reshaping and tying into the surrounds of the green.
  • Re-routing and building a new grass pathway, setting into dune landscape from the 16th green to the 17th tees and out to the 17th fairway.
  • Construction of new dunescape around the renovated green keepers compound.



Ballybunion 6th hole
Ballybunion 7th hole
Ballybunion 9th tees
Approach to 17th Hole cw new path
Ballybunion 14th pathway
Ballybunion 3rd tees
Ballybunion 6 th hole
Ballybunion 7th green
Ballybunion 7th green
Ballybunion 8th green 01
Ballybunion 8th hole
Ballybunion 17th green
Ballybunion 17th green and new footpath to 18th tees
Ballybunion 18th Hole
Ballybunion new 7th green site
Ballybunion 7th hole
Ballybunion New 18th Hole
Ballybunion hole 11th
Ballybunion new pathway to 9th tees
Ballybunion wew 7th green
Ballybunion new path to 14th green
Ballybunion new path to 17th tees
Ballybunion hole 11th
Ballybunion 10th and 11th holes
Ballybunion 10th and 11th holes
Ballybunion 11th hole
Ballybunion 11th hole
Ballybunion 11th hole
Ballybunion 12th hole
Ballybunion 14th and 15th holes
Ballybunion 15th hole
Ballybunion 15th hole
Ballybunion 15th hole
Ballybunion 16th hole

“It is a Course you will always enjoy and never tire of playing, I know I never will.
Ballybunion is a Course which many golf Architects should live and play before they build courses.I consider it a true test of golf.”

Tom Watson