Ballyliffin Golf Club – Old Links
Designers: Eddie Hackett &
Relatively speaking, the Old Links at Ballyliffin is not all that old. In fact, as late as the 1990’s the Old Links was actually the club’s new links, having replaced Ballyliffin’s original 9-hole course some two decades earlier. The arrival of a second course – the Glashedy – gave the course its “Old” title, yet it’s still several decades younger than most of the historic courses of Ireland. What it lacks in age and experience, however, the Old Links more than makes up for in delightful golf.
Shortly after he arrived to Ballyliffin, Nick Faldo proclaimed it “one of the most natural courses I have ever played.” Sir Nick’s assessment was dead on, as little earth was moved in the construction of the Old Links. Aside from some gentle shaping of the greensites, the fairways were simply mown to a playable height exactly as they were, with a few bunkers dropped in for good measure. If you experience a flat stance or a straight bounce, consider yourself quite lucky.
The standout hole on the Old Links is likely to be the 5th, known as “The Tank.” This uphill par-3 is somewhat reminiscent of the 13th at Muirfield, with a heavily guarded green that is an intimidating target from the tee. Add in the fact that it often plays into the prevailing wind, and the 5th is sure to live up to its name. Although it was inspired by an old water tank that used to be located near the green, this hole is as tough as an M1 Abrams.
In equal standing to the outstanding golf found at Ballyliffin is the warm welcome extended by its membership. The club regularly hosts matches with our Members of The Forces, providing a unique and memorable way to enjoy a little camaraderie across the pond. Echoing those sentiments, our friend Larry Olmsted writes:
Remember those old Remington electric razor commercials where entrepreneur Victor Kiam used to boast that, “I liked the shaver so much I bought the company”? That is how I feel about Ballyliffin Golf Club. I like the place so much, I became a member.
As the northernmost golf club in Ireland, the trip to Ballyliffin takes a little extra effort on the part of the traveling golfer. Those who make the journey, however, are rewarded with a gratifying day of golf and hospitality in a setting that easily ranks among the finest in the game.
Designers: Pat Ruddy &
The fairways are less corrugated here than on the Old but the course is not nearly as flat. As Finegan writes: “Fourteen of the eighteen holes are routed through the high dunesland north of the original course, where the scenery is more stirring and the terrain provides more feature and elevation change. I am not certain why this course is not recognized and rated internationally. Open for more than a decade, there has been ample time for the keepers of the lists to play it and, if they had they would have failed to find a single ordinary hole while they would have discovered several outstanding ones. They likely also would have shot no where near their handicaps. Pat Ruddy’s courses are like that. (See also, the European Club and Rosapenna Sandy Hills.)
Major Basil Haversham, OBE
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