When a number of officers from the Black Watch Regiment of the British Army went to the west coast of Clare, Ireland in search of sand dunes that would be suitable for the development of a golf course, they discovered Lahinch. It was a month later in April 1892 that they returned and using feathers and sticks laid out a links golf course. The first game of golf was played at Lahinch on Good Friday 15th April 1892 between Lieutenant William McFarlane of the Black Watch Regiment and William F. McDonnell, a Limerick businessman.
Two years later, the club invited Old Tom Morris, the celebrated Scottish golfer, to design a new links golf course. Old Tom said Lahinch was “the finest natural course he had ever seen”.
Remarkably, in 1895 the first South of Ireland Amateur Golf Championship was played at Lahinch making it one of the oldest existing Championships. Down through the years Lahinch has played host to a number of championships including the Irish Professional Championship in 1961, where Christy O’Connor Senior won following rounds of 67 and 68 on the first day. In 1975 Lahinch hosted the Carroll’s Irish Match Play Championship and his nephew, Christy O’Connor Junior, defeated Peter Townsend by 3/2 in the final.
in 1999 golf course designer, Dr. Hawtree was brought in to modernise the links golf course at Lahinch turning it in to a top class championship golf course. In the new layout, the sand dunes closer to the Atlantic Ocean were utilised and, in all, 14 greens were redesigned.
in 2020, Lahinch is set to host the Arnold Palmer Cup, an international collegiate event between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland.
The vision of club founder Alexander Shaw in 1892 to develop Lahinch into a top class golf links course has inspired and drawn golfers from all parts of the world and from all walks of life to ply their skills on the great golf links course.
When it comes to planning an Ireland Golf Trip, there are some matches that are quite simply made in Heaven! With love in the air on St. Valentine's Day, what better time to look at some of the best match ups that go hand in glove on an Ireland golf trip.
Memorable starting holes on an Ireland golf trip -Trump Doonbeg, Lahinch, Ballybunion Old Course, Royal County Down and Portstewart.
It may be due to the fact that you have just landed in Ireland at Shannon Airport and within a couple of hours your Irish golf vacation is underway as you stand on the first tee at Lahinch. Looks fairly straightforward as you prepare to drive to an elevated green well protected by deep bunkers short and a sharp bank to the right. Walk away with par here and it might just set the tone for a great week of golf in south west Ireland.
Not far south from Lahinch Golf Club is Trump Resort, Doonbeg which has recently undergone extensive remodelling by renowned golf course architect, Martin Hawtree. And when it comes to rating the best opening holes on an Ireland golf tour, they don't come much better than this. This par five demands accuracy from the tee and staying clear of the strategic fairway bunkering sets you up for an approach shot to a green set against the back drop of towering dunes.
Staying in the south west of Ireland, the opening hole on Ballybunion's Old course has haunted many a golfer. Not that it is by any means regarding as a daunting (perhaps haunting!) hole, compared with many others on the course. From an elevated tee box playing back towards the town of Ballybunion, let all slicers (right handed) be forewarned of the graveyard waiting to bury any erring drives. PJ the Old Course starter at Ballybunion, will do his best to set you right (or better again straight down the middle) - well you know what I mean!
Moving to golf in Northern Ireland, the great opening holes at Royal County Down and Portstewart are stand outs. Royal County Down opens with a terrific par five through a shallow valley. Dundrum Bay awaits the errant drive to the right and a high dune guards the left side. When the flag is positioned to the back of the green, the danger of the dreaded three putt looms large!
Portstewart, The Irish Open venue in 2017 has been described as the most stunning start in Irish golf. This dogleg downhill par four has been described as being unbeatable. Perhaps it is with this level of confidence that Derek, the starter/caddie master at Portstewart, offers to buy a pint for any visiting golfer who manages a birdie on this hole.
Well this is what he tells me, so make him pay on your next golf trip in Northern Ireland.
The Wild Atlantic Way, the longest signed coastal route in the world at 1,700 miles (2,750 km) is destined to become one of the world's most popular scenic drives. Golfers will also have the opportunity to enjoy the scenery and combine it with the breathtaking links golf courses dotted along the west coast of Ireland.
For the purpose of combining an Irish golf tour with sightseeing on the Wild Atlantic Way, we recommend that the route is taken in three sections, beginning in North West Ireland and winding south eventually to reach Kinsale on the south coast of Ireland.
In this post, we will describe the Wild Atlantic Way (North West), from Ballyliffin to County Sligo.
Beginning with golf at Ballyliffin, there are two terrific championship links courses, The Glashedy and The Old Course. The Glashedy is the newer and longer of the courses but both are held in equal regard by members and visitors alike.
Take the Lough Swilly Ferry and travel to Portsalon on the Fanad Peninsula in County Donegal to play this traditional Irish golf course which Paul McGinley describes as “Set along the scenic and beautiful Donegal coastline, it is simply a great place to play golf."
Next along the route is Rosapenna, home to the Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort which features the Sandy Hills Links and The Old Tom Morris Course.
Further south you will discover ( and I mean discover), what is probably the best nine hole golf course you will find anywhere in the world. This is Cruit Island and is well worth the diversion to play this truly spectacular golf course.
Narin and Portnoo, with sweeping views of Gweebarra Bay is yet another traditional links which in the opinion of many golfers is unrivalled in terms of its scenic and natural beauty.
Donegal (Murvagh Links) is one of the longest links courses in the world at almost 7,500 yards from the championship tees. This is a great golf course that has drawn comparison with Muirfield in Scotland.
And on to County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point to complete the first leg of your Ireland golf trip along the Wild Atlantic Way. County Sligo, is the host golf course to the West of Ireland Amateur Golf Championship and is sure to provide a great test of golf for all visitors.
As if proof were needed to justify how great an Irish golf trip this is, holes 13- 18 on the overall best golf holes on the Wild Atlantic Way, feature in the North West of Ireland section of the route.
A golf vacation in Ireland's Ancient East is a sublime and intoxicating mix of traditional links courses hugging the Irish Sea and mature parkland courses in the heart of the Irish countryside. Many golf visitors to Ireland are wooed by the majestic links courses found along the west coast of Ireland. Yet, golfers are always in search of a new experience and the golf in Ireland's Ancient East offers this opportunity. Apart from the ancient history of the region stretching from The Boyne Valley in the North East southwards to Glendalough in County Wicklow and on to Wexford, Waterford and the iconic Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, this is a relatively undiscovered part of Ireland in terms of the quality of its golf courses. County Louth (Baltray) is one of the best links courses to be found in Ireland and is sometimes overlooked by golfers in search of the more famous courses. County Louth Golf Club hosted The Irish Open in recent years and and is the home of The East of Ireland Amateur Golf Championship. Two little gems of Irish golf right on your doorstep at County Louth are Seapoint Golf links and Laytown and Bettystown, as traditional an Irish links course that you are likely to play.
In addition, you have all the big courses of the Dublin region close at hand including Portmarnock ( both courses), The Island, The European Club and Royal Dublin. St Anne's Golf Club is a lesser known course which shares Bull Island with Royal Dublin. There are two other links golf courses along this stretch of Ireland's eastern coast that are worthy of mention. Arklow Links and Rosslare Golf Club would grace many a fine Irish golf itinerary, yet the fact of the matter is that they are not played by overseas golfers visiting Ireland as much as they deserve to be played.
Ireland's Ancient East is the home of the best parkland courses in Ireland. The K Club, which hosted the Ryder Cup in 2006, Carton House which hosted The Irish Open, Druids Glen is another Irish Open Course and Mount Juliet ( Jack Nicklaus' first Irish golf course design) bears testimony to this. In fact, Nicklaus' second Irish design at Killeen Castle hosted the Solheim Cup and is a great test of golf.
When we consider how best to plan a golf tour in Ireland within this region, we have identified two loops, namely Ireland's Ancient East (Northern) and Ireland's Ancient East (Southern). Each section is a week long itinerary making sure to include sufficient time to soak up the history and culture as you travel.
Cathal O'Donoghue, Owner.
We hope you enjoy our golf blog and current golf stories we find and share. Please always feel free to contact us if we can be of any assistance in helping you decide on the golf trip that's just right for you.