While none will doubt that Lee Valley Golf Club contains many outstanding and memorable holes, the challenge presented by the 12th, 13th and 14th are truly magical!
These three captivating holes form part of what is known as “Puisheog Corner” – not to be confused with Augusta’s “Amen Corner” – though, in truth, they will always be etched in the minds of those who negotiate their way around the featured “Ring Fort” which is centrally positioned in this southerly corner of the course.
Even while playing the first eleven holes you are drawn inexorable to this corner. You know it lies in wait, timeless and motionless, like a sentinel standing watch over hallowed ground. As you are inevitably called upon to enter this corner, the haunted spectre of the ring fort can occupy your every thought and be an explanation for your every mood and action.
Your uncharacteristic duck-hook, miscalculated iron and nervous twitch can be attributed to this ever-present, provoking link with the previous incumbents of the ground you now need tread. You begin your adventure at the 12th, a par-3 with beguiling water mirroring your every gaze; the green in the distance nestles serenely inviting the perfect shot. Is it the gentle convulsions of the rustling wind that destroys your perfect execution and commits your ball to depths of the limpid pond? You have crossed your Rubicon!
On the 13th tee, the imposing nearness of the ring fort is ever present. As your limbs relax to address your tee-shot, be comforted by the local legend that Finn MacCool once threw a stone a distance of four and a half miles from this spot. This he did in a stone throwing contest with a Scottish Man called Gowlas Morna. The said Gowlas was a little shorter but still long enough to clear the tee! The undulating approach to the 13th green with its patchwork backdrop of the Bride Valley beckons your ball while the eerie silence of the dense ring fort is your audience for a par-saving putt.
Medieval holy monks prayed within the cloister of the ruined Kilcrea Abbey now in your view on the 14th tee. You will be forgiven for doing likewise as you contemplate your driving options on this extreme left to right dogleg par 4. To take on the dogleg conjures up prospects of approaching the ring fort as close as you dare.
The furze-lined perimeter that reflects the calm vista heartens the brave; the longer faded shot rewards the initiated to this “Puisheog Corner”. The broad green that stretches out beyond the outer reaches of the ring fort could be regarded as an end of journey of timeless limits. You could be entranced into a false sense of security! That belt of tall conifers to the left of the fairway threatens the pulled iron.
The open reaches of the 15th par 5 can be welcoming relief or an encouragement to even higher reaches of human endeavour as you exit “Puisheog Corner”. Whatever your reaction, there is little doubt that your golfing adventure throughout this corner of Lee Valley will leave mystifying and lingering memories!
Puisheog – (from the Gaelic) something thought to have magical powers: a spell
( written by Tim Ellard, first published as part of the official programme for the course opening day, 19 april 1993 )