September 9, 2016
Best Golf Gems in Ireland – Part 1
Perhaps no country on Earth is blessed with as many gems for incredible golf tours as Ireland with its dramatic seaside links and charming parkland courses. Many of the world’s highest-ranked layouts including Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Waterville, Portmarnock, Lahinch, Old Head, K Club and Royal Portrush are “must plays” when visiting the Emerald Isle. Here are additional exceptional locales that will round out a Carr Golf Ireland vacation itinerary to long savor.
Enniscrone Golf Club
Located in County Sligo, Enniscrone deserves to be put in the same conversation with Royal County Down, Ballybunion and Royal Portrush. The seaside layout is routed through as fine an example of duneland as you’ll find. The original course first took shape in 1918, but several decades passed before the expertise of famed (and ubiquitous) Irish course designer Eddie Hackett took it to the next level. He fashioned the marvelous swath of turbulent topography along the beaches of Killala Bay into an absolute jewel. The holes are all first-rate, several are extraordinary.
The beautiful 14th green at Carne Golf Club
Case in point, at perhaps the farthest point from the welcoming clubhouse, the ninth hole is all the par 4 you’ll ever want. At 395 yards from the back tees, the hole parallels Scurmore Beach and is accented by a mesmerizing sea view as the ever-changing sky and cobalt ocean form a tranquil tapestry. Flat lies are rare on the rippling fairway and three unforgiving front bunkers must be negotiated successfully on the approach. The tricky elevated green is enticingly nestled into a craggy sandhill. The whole endeavor is natural, perfect and really, really good.
Carne Golf Links
Carne Golf Links is thrilling. Situated just outside the sleepy seaside village of Belmullet, Co. Mayo, tucked away in Ireland’s upper northwest corner, the Eddie Hackett-design is big, bold and an absolute blast to play. It plays through enormous sandhills sculpted for eons by the steady winds and elements coming in hard off the near Atlantic. Many of the dunes are so majestically steep, hoofs rather than soft spikes are better suited should one attempt the hike to retrieve a wayward ball. Thankfully, the firm, fast fairways provide plenty of room to have a lash at it.
The charm of Enniscrone Golf Club
Few courses possess a more natural appearance. The routing constantly surprises with greens dramatically set in hillocks and fairways careening to and fro amid dune-flanked alleyways and dells. The excellent new Kilmore nine plays adjacent to its older mate and is cut through the same rolling geography and gigantic dunes. Carne Golf Links never fails to excite and surprise.
Donegal Golf Club
Just a short drive from the charming town of Donegal in Northwest Ireland, Donegal Golf Club, also called Murvagh, is described by Irish golfing great Darren Clarke as “one of my favorite courses in the world.”
A sense of splendid remoteness prevails at Murvagh as you drive along a tree-lined backroad for a mile or so before reaching a vast clearing of handsome golfing ground venturing off toward the sea. Is there anything better in golf travel than that feeling of being away from it all with 18 to play and no other appointments on the calendar?
The spectacular aerial view of Donegal Golf Club
While the dunes at Murvagh aren’t as dramatic and the topography a bit flatter than Enniscrone and Carne, it is true championship golf providing a stern test at almost 7,400 yards from the tips. Thankfully, there are several sets of tees to have an easier time of it, but you still need your thinking cap on and golf shoes tied tight. The front side runs counter clockwise around the perimeter, the inward half proceeds in the opposite fashion as every bit of land is used perfectly. This is 18 holes of the highest order.
Be on the lookout for our next blog post: Best Golf Gems in Ireland – Part 2.
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