| Mary-Ann Bendel
The Old Head Golf Links are built on a 220-acre diamond of land jutting out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean. This piece of old Ireland is impossible to describe. This special layout was designed by a unique team of golf course architects, contractors, golf amateurs and pros, and members and guests are encouraged to walk the links with a caddie.
The brainchild of John and Patrick O’Connor, STRATOS spoke with Patrick at the club on a beautiful, sunny morning earlier this year. O’Connor is a gregarious, likable Irishman. As we talked, he sipped a split of champagne. This man knows how to enjoy life.
He drove us around Old Head on his golf cart. I did not know where to look first. The natural beauty of Ireland combined the course is overwhelming. Greens are close to high cliffs with the surf crashing below.
When asked if the spectacular beauty of Old Head distracts golfers, he says, “Yes, but it is also a consolation when one hits a bad shot.” He also says when top golfers play Old Head, “most are lost for words, in a good way.” Old Head Golf Links is a Private Members Club with 400 members from 40 countries. There is a limited amount of green fee play permitted. It is possible to lease the club for any length of time if it is available. Members have the option to stay in one of 15 suites with a feeling of pure indulgence overlooking the 18th green and the Old Head Lighthouse.
When I asked which pros had played Old Head, O'Connor lists Mike Allen, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Marc O’Meara, David Duval, Lee Jansen, the late Payne Stewart, Stuart Appleby, Sergio Garcia, Paul McGinley, Shane Lowry and the “man of the moment” Graeme McDowell, to name a few.
Old Head helped drive a new “sport,” heli-golf. It allows a golfer to travel from course to course and see the green Irish countryside from the air. “A number of people use this service from the moment they land in Shannon, Dublin or Cork to get from one golf game to another in a stylish timely manner,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor has homes in Kinsale and the South of France. He travels for business every week but the way he describes his life is interesting.
He plays Old Head every day he is in Kinsale from April to October. From the end of October to April, his life is a constant whirl. “I travel to visit friends and members in India, Kashmir, China, New Zealand, Australia, South America and the United States. I ski around five weeks a year in Europe, the U.S. and I heli-ski in Canada,” he says. For some men, the constant travel might be a bit much. Not so for O’Connor. As I left the club, he laughed and says, “My life is one long vacation.” ‘My Life is One Long Vacation’