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Ballyliffin Golf Club,
Designer: Local Members, Mother Nature
Championship Length: 6,604 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 72
Known in some circles as the "Dornoch of Ireland", the Old Course at Ballyliffin has long been regarded by those in the know, as the ultimate hidden gem. Boasting an unsurpassable setting and with terrain so perfect for golf, it seems that those who did stumble across Ballyliffin felt compelled to speak about it in whispers.
Upon visiting the course in 1993, Nick Faldo immediately fell under Ballyliffin's spell. With its amazingly contoured fairways, this was a course that added new meaning to the phrase "a natural golf links". 1995 saw the addition of the Glashedy Links, a more than worthy sibling to its elder brother. And even today, despite their growing reputations, the courses of Ballyliffin, nestled beneath towering mountains and overlooking Pollan Bay remain two of the world's best kept golfing secrets.
Nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of the Old Links at Ballyliffin. Standing on the 1st tee, the overpowering sensation is one of total bewilderment. Like most fairways here, the terrain twists and tumbles in every conceivable direction. During his visit in 1993, Faldo remarked: "Do you play bump and run here or do you just run and bump?" As the principal architect of the Old Links was Mother Nature the greatest of all course designers along with architects Pat Ruddy, Nick Faldo and local member.
The Old Course is an unashamedly old fashioned links that bristles with charm, character and curiosity. And what a course it is! By the time you reach the elevated 2nd green and before you contemplate a severely sloping putt, you will be stunned by the sweeping ocean view. Here for the first time, the golfer can appreciate the full glory of the links as it unravels between the sea and encircling hills.
The Old Links offers countless superb holes including the 3rd, played directly towards the ocean along a perilously narrow fairway and the legendary par 3, 5th with its elusive green perched between two large sand hills but arguably the best hole is kept until last, where the fairway wriggles along its entire length, coming to rest at the foot of the clubhouse no doubt one of the finest finishing holes in golf.