Carne Golf Links
Designers: Eddie Hackett
Carne Golf Links is truly in the middle of nowhere. Go as far west and as far north in County Mayo as you can and you will find the Mullet Peninsula—an isolated, pristine, wild intrusion into the Atlantic. As this is the last place one would expect to find a championship links, the story as to how it came to be there is as remarkable as the course itself.
The land the course occupies was once commonage: marginal land used for grazing shared by 17 families. The government, ever keen on progress, theorized that if the land were divided into 17 shares, the likelihood of some kind of individual development occurring would be far greater than if the land lay in communal limbo, controlled by a loose federation of farmers, who would probably never agree on anything. Michael Manger, one of the shareholders and a newcomer to the area, saw the terrain for the first time and instantly recognised it as prime golf course material. He eventually (and not without difficulty) sold this concept to the other 16 and they formed a non-profit corporation for the project. The rest of Carne’s story is about securing government grants and private investors as well as the skillful contribution of well-regarded Irish golf architect, Eddie Hackett.
Whilst Hackett was 80 years old when he designed this course, time may prove that this is his best work, Waterville included. He fell in love with the terrain, keeping it as natural as possible. The result is a walk on the wild side through valleys and swales, hemmed in by ragged dunes of improbable size. Wonderful vistas of beach and ocean abound. The golf writers Richard Phinney and Scott Whitley in their fine book Links of Heaven describe the 17th hole in language that fairly sums up the ambience of the place:
“…the hole was played through a surreal, heaving landscape right out of a science fiction novel. Being surrounded by dunes is nothing unusual on Irish courses, but these were gigantic and raw, with gaping wounds of white sand.”
Rather dramatic, don’t you think? Because Carne is so far off the beaten track, it is improbable that members of the H&B Expeditionary Forces travelling to Ireland for the first time will opt to play it. For our more seasoned members, however, and those others who have already experienced the well trodden, big name, must do courses, Carne will be an invigorating experience they shall not soon forget.
Directions for independent travellers: Spend a considerable amount of time looking at a map of County Mayo. Once you find it on the map, proceed to Belmullet. Pass through Belmullet and motor about 1_ miles west on the Mullet Peninsula.