Close enough to combine with a Northern Ireland golf trip, Ballyliffin Golf Club boasts two of The Republic of Ireland’s best championship layouts – Glashedy Links and The Old Links.
Referred to often as ‘The Ballybunion of The North” or “The Dornoch of Ireland,” heady praise indeed for two relatively young championship links. It is Ireland’s most northerly course located on The Wild Atlantic Way at Tullagh Point, on the Atlantic Edge of the Inishowen Peninsula.
The Old Links started life as a basically nondescript 9-hole course in 1947 on leased fairly flat farmland. In 1973 it was expanded to 18 holes by Eddie Hackett with input from the firm of Lawrie and Pennick. In 1993 Sir Nick Faldo visited and it was love at first sight. He later would make some tweaks including revetting bunkers and adding additional tees. Faldo’s praise for the courses helped establish the Club as a ‘must play’ and a venue for future championships, including the 2018 Irish Open.
The Club, as many in Ireland, went through its share of financial difficulties However in 1992 it was decided that there needed to be an additional 18-hole championship course, taking the playing pressure off The Old Links.
Pat Ruddy had already done some work on The Old Links and was brought back in to do further renovations and improvements to The Old Links. With the addition of 400 acres of wild linksland punctuated by towering dunes, his focus soon shifted to designing the new Glashedy Links course.
Time was of the essence as at that time environmentally sensitive sites were being heavily restricted on golf course construction. So, he and his partner, the late Tom Craddick, set about securing funding and construction of Glashedy Links and Faldo took over his renovation of The Old Links.
Opening in 1995, the resulting Glashedy Links is a brute of a championship links. Stretching over 7,200 yards with nine par 4s over 400 yards, that play every bit of it in the constant winds. Making scoring even more of a challenge is that the green complexes are all large, undulating and heavily protected by bunkers.
The 7th tee of the signature 175-yard par 3 at 120 feet above sea level is the highest point of the course, with magnificent views of its namesake, Glashedy Rock.
Ruddy was also rewarded with the design of the new Pollan Links short course that opened in 2020 and is a great addition to any day at Ballyliffin. The 14-acre site takes full advantage of the natural terrain with holes varying from 90 to 146 yards. It is a great emergency nine but also a perfect place to practice the finesse shots required around the greens of links courses, and escapes from the deep and revetted bunkers.
Whether as an addition to a Northern Ireland golf trip or the highlight of a North West Ireland golf itinerary, make plans to spend a day or better yet, two days at the Ballyliffin Golf Club.
North West Ireland is a hidden gem of a golfing destination. In comparison to better know tours of Northern Ireland or the South West, unearth some of the finest links on the emerald Isle.
7 nights accommodation and 5 rounds of golf
Prices starting from $4,750
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