Home course advantage – where celebrities unwind

For busy high-profile figures, there’s nothing quite like a round of golf with friends to relax and regroup

Cian Healy with members of the Irish rugby squad in Carlton House. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Cian Healy with members of the Irish rugby squad in Carlton House. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho


Michael Carruth
Olympic gold medallist
Killeen Golf Club

After winning the gold medal at the Olympics in ‘92, I’m afraid my golf had to take a back seat. However, I lost my mother and father in recent years and I felt I had to find some “me” time, you don’t get enough of that. Now, I look forward to Saturday mornings for my round of golf. Killeen is only four miles from my house, so it has that going for it, but I love the course and the company. It is a very sociable club with great people involved.

I joined back again last September, play off a 12 handicap, and the thing that I noticed on my return to the course after a number of years away was how well it has matured. The trees have grown and it has got progressively tougher as a result. Now, if you’re off the fairway, you are in trouble.

My favourite hole is the Par 5 16th which demands a good drive. There is a lake down the right. If you want to take a chance, you can go for the green in two. If you don’t you can lay up. When I tend to hit a good drive, I always go for it. I am one of those players who can’t resist. I probably need to start laying up more and I can score better and stop going for it all the time.

Mary Logue
153-times capped hockey international
Milltown Golf Club

One of the best things about Milltown is that it is a city course, it is a great location and gives you the chance to escape to the golf course only minutes away from city life. There has been some fantastic work carried out on the course in recent years – the greens and tees are top class –and it represents a very good challenge.

The course is visually very attractive, with the planting of the past few years adding to its appeal, but one of its true attractions is the people involved at Milltown. From the catering staff to those working in the club and the members, there is just a fantastic feel.

My favourite holes are the sixth and seventh, two challenging Par 4s. The sixth is a low index for the ladies and has a very long green; the seventh is a testing tee-shot with an old oak tree dominating your eye line and if you stray right at all you could be in a lot of trouble.

Cian Healy
Rugby international
St Annes

I love playing golf in St Anne’s mainly for its beautiful surroundings and its ability to take you away from everyday life. I have a good group of friends who are also members there so it’s great for a day out with them. My favourite holes to play are 2 and 14, they are the ones I find tricky and really enjoy the challenge.

The 14th is a Par 4 which requires an accurate tee shot to a fairway with a drain down the left and sand hills that then leaves an approach shot to a semi blind green. Most first-time players will often come up short of the green as some 15 yards of fairway approach is hidden from the player.

Bernard Dunne
Former world boxing champion

One of the great things about Hollystown is that there are 27 holes in all, so if you want to just get out for nine holes there is no problem. The course is superbly maintained, all year round, and the staff are fantastic. It always goes a long way in a golf course when you have people that look after you.

Golf is a social thing for me. I enjoy the craic and getting out with different people. I won’t be Greg Norman any time soon but I really enjoy playing. I’m the type of guy who can have 21 points after 11 holes and end up signing for 28!

My favourite hole is the second on the Blue Course. It is a par 3 of just over 170 yards with water in front of the green and I find it such a tough but very enjoyable hole. I love finding the green there.

Nick O’Hare
Olympic swimmer
Castleknock Golf Club

There’s a good core of men and women members at Castleknock which makes for a really nice atmosphere. The course is a thinker’s course, you have to think your way around with a fine mix of Par 3s and Par 5s and some very testing Par 4s. Water comes into play on a number of holes, so club selection is key and you can easily run up a triple bogey from nowhere. Having said that, it is fair course and always in impeccable shape. The greens, even at this time of the year, are as good as you’d find on most courses at captain’s day time.

My favourite hole is the 10th, a Par 5 that is your classic risk-and-reward. There is out-of-bounds down the right and you’re driving to a narrow fairway with the lake down the left.

If you get a good drive away, the temptation is always to go for it in two but the green adds to the test as it is 45 yards long and slopes in different directions.

Ronan Collins
Royal Dublin & Headfort

Working on RTÉ Radio 1 and touring with the “Showband Show”, my relaxation is a game of golf with friends.

I’m fortunate enough to be a member of Royal Dublin and also Headfort in Meath, so I enjoy quality links and parkland golf, 12 months of the year. I always try to play my best, but I want to have some fun as well. My playing partners in both clubs always make sure this happens.

There is one hole on each course that brings out the best or worst in your game. The 17th in Royal Dublin, a long par four, is the toughest hole on the course. Some say its all about the tee shot.

However, with two deep pot bunkers right and short of the green, the second shot is the most difficult approach shot going. The par five 14th on Headfort’s new course requires “your three best shots to be up there in four!” I have experienced agony and ecstasy on both these great holes. That’s what makes golf such a great sport and why I look forward to the challenge every week.

Stephen Watson
BBC NI Sports presenter

There’s nothing quite like getting a first glimpse of Fair Head on the way to Ballycastle. If you can see the landmark clearly, with the Mull of Kintyre of Scotland in the distance, then some good golfing weather normally lies ahead!

Ballycastle is where I learnt to swing a club as a child and a place I still love to go and play. The tricky course is a unique mix of links and parkland with some stunning scenery to boot.

With the Bonamargy River, the old Friary, the road holes, the Atlantic Ocean, combined with a howling wind . . . there’s danger everywhere!

My favourite hole is the 10th, a short par three with one of the best tee-box views in the world. There’s the town to the right, the beach behind, Rathlin Island to the left and a cliff-top undulating two tier green ahead. It should be an easy flick with a wedge, but can often be a card wrecker with the rollercoaster putting surface!

The approach to the par 5 18th is scary with the club’s car park on the left very close the green. If you pull one, close your eyes and pray there’s no sound of smashing glass . . .

And yes, I have left a few dents in my time.

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