The two purchased 700 acres of land from a local farmer and in 2002 and hired Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design (who had just finished the highly regarded Pacific Dunes course in Bandon, Oregon). Tom and his Renaissance team studied, discovered and refined the routing for two years before construction finally began in earnest on Ballyneal. Letting Mother Nature dictate the flow instead of forcing the flow was paramount in his approach to routing the course.
The fescue sward that defines Ballyneal took hold better than anticipated and Tom Doak struck the first ball in summer of 2006. The course has since matured to become one with the native sage and yucca that abound in the Chop Hills. What’s most striking to players is the variety presented by the combination of the design, the playing surface and the conditions. The fescue surface and the gusty conditions promote true links style golf where a ground game is often the best approach.
The one thing Ballyneal has proven is that a great course will withstand the test of time. Despite the financial headwinds that many private clubs faced in the years following the 2009 recession, Ballyneal emerged with a change of ownership as one of the top destination golf clubs in the world. Its ‘village’ where play starts and completes boasts four lodges in addition to the pro shop, restaurant and reception buildings. They all surround the bocce ball court where friends new and old meet to swap stories and laugh about the day’s play and the shot that nearly went in.