Lahinch Golf Club – Old Course
Designers: Old Tom Morris, Alister Mackenzie & Martin Hawtree
“The finest natural course I have ever seen.”
“The finest and most popular golf course that I, or I believe anyone else, ever constructed.”
The notion of a golf course architect gushing over his latest design is certainly nothing new, but when the source is none other than Old Tom Morris and Dr. Alister Mackenzie, we find it’s best to take notice.
The Lahinch Golf Club came about in 1892 thanks to the influence of the Scottish “Black Watch” regiment, who fashioned the first links while stationed in Limerick. A few years later, Old Tom Morris was invited to Lahinch to advise on a new layout, portions of which remain to this very day. Most notably, the unique 4th hole – known as Klondyke – where the u-shaped valley of a fairway leads to a green tucked behind a towering dune. This peculiar hole is followed by yet another: “The Dell.” A stone marker is all that guides the way to this par-3, with its completely hidden green nestled between a pair of dunes. The shot is guaranteed to be unlike any the golfer has seen to date, and some say the best chance of getting the ball close is to land it halfway up the far dune and hope it comes back towards the hole.
When Alister Mackenzie arrived at Lahinch in 1927, he was given carte blanche by the membership to completely redesign the course, but with two exceptions: the Klondyke and Dell. Leaving these one of a kind holes intact, the Good Doctor moved most of the holes into the rolling coastal dunes, making his own memorable imprint on the links. The view from the 9th tee and the tempting short par-4 13th being chief among them.
Over the years, much of Mackenzie’s work was lost to the hands of a tinkering green committee, especially his inspiring putting surfaces which were deemed to be too difficult and softened beyond recognition. Recently, the club employed Dr. Martin Hawtree to restore much of Mackenzie’s design, and the results were simply outstanding. Just as one might expect from the R&A’s “Open Doctor.”
Of course, no story of Lahinch is complete without a mention of their expert weathermen. If the famous Lahinch goats are near the clubhouse when you arrive, we advise you to pack the waterproofs… You’re likely in for a wet one.
For many, a round at Lahinch is the Irish equivalent to places like Cruden Bay, Royal Dornoch, and Brora. The glorious setting and rolling dunes, as well as quirky holes like the Klondyke and Dell, and even the famous goats, all combine to yield an almost spiritual connection to the game in its earliest form. It’s little wonder why Old Tom Morris and Alister Mackenzie held it in such high regard.
Major Basil Haversham, OBE
More on Lahinch
Independent Travellers: The club is located on the right (north) side of the N85 as one enters the village from Ennistymon. Report to the Secretary’s window on the right side of the ground floor of the clubhouse. Caddies are obtained from the starter’s office across the first tee. Remind Paul, the caddie master and starter that you are travelling with H&B. Changing rooms are on the ground floor; bar and restaurant on the upper floor. Soup and toasties are a favourite lunch.