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Esker Hills Golf Club,
Designer: Christy O'Connor Jr
Championship Length: 6,618 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 71
Esker Hills Golf & Country Club is one of those recently developed parkland golf courses that have put the Irish midlands firmly on the map in golfing terms. For a long time, it seemed the midlands were often overlooked as a place to enjoy great golf but with the addition of recent courses like Glasson Golf & Country Club and Esker Hills to established mature golf courses like Birr and Mullingar, the midlands of Ireland is beginning to get the recognition it richly deserves.
Esker Hills' links like landscape is somewhat confusing given it is located nowhere near the ocean but can be traced back over 10,000 years, when the unique landscape of County Offaly was powerfully sculpted by the awesome natural forces of the retreating Ice Age. As the great glaciers melted, they left in their wake narrow ridges of sand and gravel, which were deposited by streams of water that once flowed beneath the great melting mass of ice. These ridges now comprise the Esker Riada from which the course gleans its name.
Designed by former Ryder Cup hero, Christy O' Connor Jr., Esker Hills is a real parkland gem where no two holes are even remotely alike. During the construction stage, O'Connor insisted on minimum movement of soil, yet the craftsmanship is such that the driver remains very much a prerequisite. This is true even of the 307 yard, tenth another one of those attractive "par three and a half" holes, which can promise much and deliver quite something else.
Having completed his design at Esker Hills, a satisfied O' Connor commented "Designing Esker Hills gave me enormous satisfaction, plotting the course through nature's own sand hills and valleys. Esker Hills is the only inland links type course I know of...it makes golf a pleasure all year round." The end result was the molding of the stunning original landscape of plateaus, sweeping valleys and natural lakes into one of the finest parkland tests around.