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Tucked away on the Sligo/Mayo border is one of the wonders of the golfing world: Enniscrone. The course is a monumental mass of dunes with narrow strips of Fairway overshadowed by banks of Marram grass towering over your head. And there is no gradual build up either, from the First Tee you head straight into the tumult of sand: good luck! True, the course does exit the dunes here and there to offer a little respite: make the most of it though as you'll be back in the thick of it again before long!County Sligo (Rosses Point) Architect: H.S. Colt (1894). 18 holes: 6,043m: Par 71.
Rosses Point is split into two distinct sections: upper and lower. The course starts on the higher ground before dropping, shelf like, onto a lower flat sandy plain that juts into the North Atlantic. With no buildings of anf description around the course it offers unhindered views from the upper parts and a broad open feel on the lewer section. The land here has not formed into huge dunes so the run of the ball is more predictable (to a certain extent!). Harry Colt has crafted a clever course and his bunkering, as always, will tease and frustrate in equal measure.Donegal (Murvagh) Architect: E. Hackett (1960). 18 holes: 6,574m: Par 73.
Donegal Golf Club has a serene setting beside Donegal Bay and around Durnish Lake dotted with its green bobble-hat islands. The terrain here is perfect for golf: gentle dunes with ridges, humps and hollows; not much additional work was required by Eddie Hackett to create a marvellous, natural, test of golf. A feature of the land is the huge sand ridge that cuts across the course providing some solid grassy backdrops to Greens and a couple of elevated Tee positions; the latter affording joyous views of this wonderful, unspoilt, golfscape.Strandhill Architect: J. McAlister (1940). 18 holes: 5,618m: Par 70.
An unassuming golf course on a great tract of links land at the foot of Knocknarea that is often overlooked by golfers on holiday in Sligo: it shouldn't be, as you are assured of a warm welcome and a good round of genuine links golf. The Clubhouse sits on the higher land and the course extends down to Strandhill beach on the edge of town. This means there are a few climbs to negotiate on your way around - but some nice decents too! Great value golfing with the locals.Carne (Belmullet) Architect: E. Hackett (1993) 18 holes: 6,119m: Par 72.
A long trek from Sligo to get to Belmullet a holiday town on Mayo's western extremity and Eddie Hackett's final, and some would say finest, opus: Carne Golf Club. The dunes here are wild and ragged, between them he identified the perfect route for 18 Fairways, Greens and Tees to create a course that will leave you breathless (despite the plentifiul Ocean air!). Well worth the effort to get here for all links afficionados.
Castle Dargan Architect: D. Clarke (2001) 18 holes: 6,001yds: Par 71.
A rarity in these parts is the modern parkland course at the Castle Dargan resort. Laid out by Darren Clarke on lightly wooded terrain around an old Baronial Demesne (castle ruins are still to be seen around the course) it features all the trademarks of modern golf course design: lakes, big bunkers, big Greens and some earth shifting to define Fairways. The chances are the weather will be gentler inland, so if you feel the need for a break from seaside zephyrs head for Castle Dargan.Bundoran Architect: H. Vardon (1894) 18 holes: 5,599m: Par 69.
The coures at Bundoran has stood overlooking the beaches and town of this Irish holiday spot for more than 100 years. Reshaped by the legendary Harry Vardon, the course is constrained to the expanse of land it occupies around an hotel, so holes are of moderate lenght and run closely together in places, but it's plenty long enough when the Atlantic breezes blow! The vast majority of golfers here are 'casuals' on holiday so the rough is well managed to keep the game flowing (no bad thing) and you will are assured of a very warm welcome in the tiny Pro-shop and hotel bar above.