Day two was a very busy one. Our jaunt around Headfort’s 36 holes was not the end of the golf, we had another one to attend, a few holes at an equally special location.

Jack’s place

Killeen Castle Golf Club was pretty much purpose-built to host major events which it did famously in 2011. Who can forget the Sunday afternoon fightback when Europe’s ladies overcame the USA to regain the Solheim Cup amidst high drama rivalling anything their male counterparts have achieved over the years.

Killeen Castle is one of a pair of Jack Nicklaus designs in Ireland; I’d played the other one, Mount Juliet in 2018. Not too dissimilar either, both are set on vast expanses of land, both are conditioned to a very high standard indeed.

But the difference is with the centrepiece, Killeen Castle itself is a 12th-century build with a rich and royal history inside its walls. In recent times it has been restored and although it’s not currently open for tourist access it stands as a quite magnificent looking golf course monument, you can see it from almost everywhere, you play up to its front door on the closing hole.

We were given a buggy and the late afternoon tee time made it easy to pick and choose a few holes and just drive through some of the others. Typically for a resort course, the contoured greens and bunkers are big ones and there are a good few lakes around too, the one that divides the second and 17th holes provides some signature moments.

We made sure to take a bit of time to have a look around the wonderfully modern clubhouse as well, festooned with images and memories of that famous occasion in 2011.

Killeen Dreams – The 12th hole with its greenside man-made cascading falls (above) is a beauty and made all the better thanks to my perfect par with Andy floundering somewhat in my wake. That was probably the first time that had happened all day! (I’m glad I get to be the writer!) But his nibs did enjoy his equally adept par at the 18th right in front of the castle.

We could have been excused for being a little weary after this day of golf but another special hotel awaited and we had been promised a night out by our host, Club Choice, too.

Crazy, crazy Knights 

Knightsbrook Hotel Spa and Golf Resort is set on the outskirts of Trim, a small town full of character and historical charm. The 131 bedroom, 4 star hotel is not only a luxurious one, it’s also perfectly placed for a quality golf break where you don’t have to travel too far to find a new round to play.

The hotel‘s GM, Patrick Curran, had pushed the boat out for us with a huge and luxurious suite complete with golf course views and a welcome pack including a box of chocs and a bottle of Chilean Red… which we started the drinking straight away. We joined up with Tiernan, from Club Choice Ireland, in the bar and a few fellow English golfers too as it was the Club Choice Ireland Senior Mixed Pairs tournament.

Competitors had travelled from far and wide to play three of the local courses, including Knightsbrook itself. We found a group of eight senior couples from Astbury GC in Congleton, only 10 miles from where Andy and I both live, later on, we shared a few nightcaps with them.

The three of us dined in the Rococo Restaurant and grabbed a succulent steak each, mouth-watering they were too.

By 9 pm the weather had thankfully cleared up and Tiernan wanted to show us a little pub down the road, see if we could find a traditional Irish welcome and get some craic going, we did as it happened.

Knights on par

We teed off mindful that the senior pairs weren’t that far behind us which may have explained why we scored one point between us in the first two holes! Just making sure we were keeping up with play so we didn’t look too long for stray balls, that’s our excuse anyway. But after that, we got our eyes in and the final 16 holes only added further evidence to the legend that I really only do play decent golf when the sun shines.

Andy wasn’t too bad either but for the first time in the week he played second fiddle – I was winning the battle after the war had been lost yet again.

Knightsbrook, similar to Killeen Castle has all of the resort course attributes you come to expect, just a little less open in nature with a few patches of woodland in the mix too. Plus of course, there are water features, lots of them too, many of which give you some true highlights on the stand out short holes they have here.

Two of them are saved for the finishing stretch of three holes that has an equally challenging long 17th to enjoy as well. The downhill home hole is a beauty, over the water to a hugely contoured green that proved to be my undoing, first blob since the second.

Nevertheless, we had a fun round in the sun and didn’t keep the seniors waiting either – what a lovely course, full of interest and exciting golf holes, a resort layout that ticks all boxes.