The North West coast of Ireland is probably the least discovered of Ireland's true Emerald Jewels yet these links courses are among the best, certainly the most exhilarating in the world. In the first of the "Golf Journeys" video series, renowned golf travel writers Clive Agran and David J Whyte join a group of other golf journalists to explore the area's courses and attractions.
We started our tour of Ireland’s magnificent Northwest Coast in the jaunty little county town of Sligo. On the banks of the Garavogue River, Sligo was the childhood home of William Butler Yeats… a veritable giant of 20th century literature. But Yeats wasn’t the only literary luminary in town. Terence Alan Patrick Seán Milligan – more familiarly known as "Spike" got his first laugh here at No5 Holborn Street.
Sligo’s other famous lyrical son lies buried in the Protestant churchyard at Drumcliff, just outside Sligo.
County Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point, Sligo
County Sligo or Rosses Point as it’s better known is a piece of poetry in itself, a spectacular links course which is best known for hosting the annual West of Ireland Championship.
In the Seaweed
The Irish have been enjoying seaweed baths for hundreds of years…the original Celtic spa treatment.
At VOYA Seaweed Baths they continue the tradition and explained to us the bath-fulls of benefits you can obtain from soaking in seaweed – top of which for me (pause)…was looking younger. Well! - - - - Have you ever seen an old looking mermaid?
Donegal Golf Club
Feeling suitable ‘Silky’ after my soak in the seaweed I went off to see if it had done anything to improve my swing…
Known locally as Murvagh… after the pretty peninsula on which it sits… Donegal Golf Club is a challenging Championship Links that’s bound to refresh the parts the ‘seaweed’ might not have reached.
Washed on one side by the wild Atlantic Ocean with Donegal Bay on the other – it’s a spectacular stretch of links overlooked by the panoramic Bluestack Mountains.
Modeled on Muirfield, the course consists of two loops, the first playing round the outside while the back 9 runs in the opposite direction.
I’m sure if W B Yeats ever were a golfer he’d have something to say about the links here at Donegal.
Narin and Portnoo Golf Club
It was a long & winding road to our next course, Narin & Portnoo Golf Club - but worth every delightful mile
From the clubhouse balcony the course looks inviting. But just wait until you see what’s in store further out…
Dunfanaghy, County Donegal.
And so we departed Narin & Portnoo, hearts full of the joys …of life and of links golf!
Of course, almost as important as the golf is the comfort of the accommodation you choose.
Arnold’s Hotel in the village of Dunfanaghy is a sleepy, snug and quiet …. Until the locals bring out their musical instruments…
The next morning some of us were up bright and early to take in the sunrise and stunning Donegal views…
Dunfanaghy has it’s own interesting little links course adjacent to the hotel (pause) but unfortunately we didn’t have time to play it.
Bill, the hotel’s owner took us for a scenic drive around Horn Head and Sheephaven Bay…
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort, Downings, County Donegal
Soon we were on the road again… the North West Irish coast really is quite spectacular.
In walking distance from Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort, the Gaelic-speaking village of Downings marks the start of the Atlantic Drive, one of the most scenic routes in all of Ireland.
Village & Shopping
Something of a fashion icon, I clearly inspired others to follow my fondness for flat caps
Old Tom Links
Old Tom Morris first visited Rosapena in 1891 and was quick to realize the golfing potential of this amazing stretch of Donegal Coast
Only in Ireland could you get a new Old Tom Morris course. Just to confuse you further it’s called the Tom Morris Old Course.
Ballyliffin Golf Club, Ballyliffin
And so we bid fond farewell to Old Tom and his wonderful Rosapenna and headed for our final round to the trip to Ballyliffin.
But not before we took in a game of Irish Football as Donegal take on County Mayo in the final of the All-Ireland Championship.
Ballyliffin has two magnificent links courses, the Old Links and the newer Glashedy Links. Nick Faldo became particularly enamored by the courses here and in 2006 leant a hand in the upgrading of the Old Course.