LITTLE ISLAND, County Cork, Ireland -- Most Americans don't come to Ireland to play parkland golf. Cork Golf Club gives a good reason to ignore the seaside links for a day.
It's a unique, fully restored Alister MacKenzie gem dating to 1927. It's not on par with the Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club -- MacKenzie's other contribution to Irish golf -- although it's definitely worth playing to study his handiwork.
Architect Martin Hawtree -- famous for his Trump International Golf Links in Scotland and his work at Lahinch, Portmarnock and elsewhere -- finished up a three-year improvement plan in 2013. He artfully sculpted MacKenzie's magical bunkers, renovated tees and reshaped the 12th green.
A lack of land within Cork's industrial sector creates awkward moments where golfers must drive over preceding greens and a corner of the driving range, a traffic hassle some purists just can't forgive. The 6,731-yard golf course veers from its parkland setting into a rock quarry for holes 4-11. The treacherous par-4 fourth and par-5 fifth holes play in a beautiful setting along a large lake.