When golfers think of planning a golf vacation to Ireland, classic golf courses such as Lahinch Old, Ballybunion Old, Tralee and Royal County Down immediately come to mind. However nestled in the northwestern part of Ireland are several championship links golf courses that until recent years have been overlooked by the visiting golfer. Several of these courses are often described by journalists as “The Magnificent Seven” – Ballyliffin Golf Club, Enniscrone Golf Club, County Sligo Golf Club, Donegal Golf Club, Connemara Golf Links and Rosapenna Golf Links.
These great links golf courses lie beside the wild Atlantic coast, and are among the best in terms of design and awe-inspiring views.
They are located in Northwest Ireland, a rugged landscape that is dotted with small villages, lively pubs and lovely country house hotels. This is the nostalgic, unspoiled Ireland of old. Best of all, the greens fees for golf in Northwest Ireland are currently a fraction of the most sought after courses located elsewhere in the country. Which is why a visit to this breathtaking part of Ireland is an absolute must, and why a golf tour to Ireland’s northwest should be included in your travel plans!
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Connemara Golf Club
A classic links course with flat, windswept terrain and a challenging length. Pot bunkers, deep and menacing, are frequent throughout the course. The course is wide open, with a rough that does not penalize you. Bring your chipping and putting game.
Carne Golf Links
This is a stunningly beautiful natural links course, a truly gorgeous tract and a wonderful walk through some of the most beautiful dunes land you will see anywhere in Ireland. Located in the middle of nowhere — the course is considered to be among Eddie Hackett’s best work. Ranked #62 on Golf Digest’s list of 100 Greatest Courses outside the US.
Enniscrone Golf Club – Dunes Championship Links
This is a classic links course set among natural dunes offering a full spectrum of links golf: thick rough, plenty of sand dunes, fast greens, and close proximity to the ocean. The course is beautifully maintained, all the way from the fairways and greens to the immaculate and inviting clubhouse. A must-see — must-play venue.
County Sligo Golf Club – Rosses Point
The strategically placed bunkering on all holes, particularly the first three, is enough to make playing this course worthwhile. Extraordinary panoramic views and scenic vistas including the twelve “Bens” (mountains), Drumcliff Bay, and a majestic lighthouse. This links is a treat to play and a test for any golfer.
Ballyliffin Golf Club – Glashedy Courses
At 7,135 yards, Glashedy is a long course; with wind, it can be a monster. Many of the greens are large and gently rolling; others are two-tiered. The front nine is truly splendid. The 7th hole offers spectacular views of Glashedy Rock in the nearby bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the rugged mountains of the Inishowen Peninsula. This course is a visual pleasure and a wonderful test of golf.
Ballyliffin Golf Club – Old Course
The Old Course lies in a low mogul-ridden basin within the extensive dunes land that makes up the Ballyliffin complex. At 6,612 yards, the course is not particularly long, unless the wind blows — and the wind always blows. The course is quirky, unique and fun.
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort – Sandy Hills Course
Opened in June 2003, this Pat Ruddy links is fabulous! Elevated tees, rolling fairways flanked by sand dunes, and superb views on just about every hole will create an exciting and challenging links golf experience.
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort – Old Course
Designed by Old Tom Morris in 1891, the links part of the course is set between high dunes lands and Sheephaven Bay. The fairways are wide, the gently rolling greens are spacious, and bunkering is intelligently placed. Some of the tees are carved out of sand dunes offering great views of the links land. The last 8 holes leave the valley and head up and around a hill to Mulroy Bay.
Portsalon Golf Club
Portsalon Golf Club is set on one of the most northern reaching parts of Donegal on the shores of Ballymastocker Bay. While not an internationally renowned golf course, this tract is a seriously good links with roots in the 19th century, located amidst some of the most beautiful terrain imaginable and offering stunning views. The 3rd hole, unchanged since 1891, is a downhill par four played across and along the beach to a green guarded by two ancient rock formations. It is an exhilarating start and so it continues with fairways and greens threading through sand dunes untouched by the course of time. Redesign work has been completed by Pat Ruddy, and Portsalon now offers a par 72 challenge measuring over 7,000 yards.
Donegal Golf Club
Built on the end of a peninsula, Donegal (often called Murvagh) is a wide-open, expansive links land of mostly low dunes with occasional views of the Atlantic Ocean. The bunkers bear architect Eddie Hacket’s signature, as do some of the fairway division moguls. The greens are first-rate, and the play of this links is hard and fast.
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