Bunclody Castle pass car test
ONE visible symptom of golf in the Celtic Tiger era was the huge number of cars in the car parks of golf clubs on weekdays.
It's not as evident now, but as the industry reduces green fees and offers competitive deals, there's still a fair bit of golf being played.
On recent visits to Castle Golf Club in Rathfarnham and Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club, I noted that both passed the 'busy car park' test with flying colours.
More importantly, their golf courses also were well up to scratch, despite their contrasting locations and ages.
Castle has been around for 98 years and as it edges towards its centenary in 2013, the mature, tree-lined, elegant layout is well established and deserves its reputation as a very pleasant course to play.
Bunclody is a young newcomer, having opened in 2009 and at the wrong time in terms of the country's finances.
But the owners, committee and members have rolled up their sleeves and with the excellent Jeff Howes-designed course, they have a prime asset.
It's set on 300 acres of the charming Halldare Estate on the Carlow-Wexford border.
This year's captain is Michael Cowman, who is delighted with the positive responses from visitors to Bunclody.
I was surprised to see that the entrance to the golf club is right in Bunclody town, opposite the Carlton Millrace Hotel and C Spa. Its location is ideal for play-and-stay deals between the golf club and the hotel.