County Sligo Golf Club (Rosses Point)
Designers: H.S. Colt (mostly)
There aren’t many landscapes that can claim to have inspired both a Nobel Prize winning poet and one of the most acclaimed golf course designers in history, but the County Sligo Golf Club is able to do just that. The links, better known as Rosses Point, sits at the end of a peninsula by the same name, and is surrounded by some of the most striking scenery in all of Ireland. It’s little wonder then that the likes of W.B. Yeats, Harry S. Colt, and an untold number of golfers across the Emerald Isle and beyond have fallen in love with County Sligo.
Rosses Point opens with a relatively light-hearted group of holes, paired with some of the most breathtaking panoramas on the course. The views from the 2nd green, 3rd tee, and 5th tee are simply stunning, and the relative ease of these holes often makes for good scoring as well. The combination serves to lull one into a state of vulnerability – transfixed by the looming Benbulben, the “Table Mountain” of Ireland, as well as the beaches of the North Atlantic – for most of the front nine it’s easy to gain the impression that County Sligo is something of a pushover. But just then, Rosses Point fights back.
As the course turns for home along the sea, the stretch of holes from the 11th onward are both exciting and exacting. The 13th is a brilliant one-shotter that’s played across a patch of scraggy inlet with an enchanting view of the surrounding landscape. It’s the burn behind the green, however, that is sure to make one uneasy, especially given the hole is typically played downwind. Ahead we find the 14th, a cracking par-4 that is regarded as Tom Watson’s favorite on the course, and yet again features an appearance by the pesky burn. Meanwhile, the 17th is home to one of the most demanding 2nd shots anywhere, which is played uphill, blind, to an amphitheater green surrounded by the towering dunes. It’s right about now that you may begin to long for the delightfully easy stroll Rosses Point offered on the front nine.
Although it is somewhat unheralded when set amongst the great links of Ireland, County Sligo is not without its own rich history. Rosses Point has played host to the West of Ireland Amateur since 1924 – a coveted title in the amateur game that was previously won in consecutive years by some kid named McIlroy.
When asked to describe County Sligo, Tom Watson simply called it “A magnificent links.” A short and sweet description, absent of any boisterous hyperbole, but one that seems to perfectly describe County Sligo. Put simply, what took this piece nearly 500 words, the five time Open champion was able to do in just three.
Major Basil Haversham, OBE
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