Carne (Belmullet) Golf Club,
Founded: 1925 (1993 - Carne Course)
Designer: Eddie Hackett
Championship Length: 6,730 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 72
Carne Golf Links, also known as Belmullet Golf Links, is one of those courses that people don't appreciate just how good it is until they have played it. Hidden on one of the most westerly points in Ireland, right on the Atlantic Ocean, the links at Carne was the last course designed by the late Eddie Hackett, who commented of Carne "if ever the Lord intended land for a golf course, Carne has it".
The last instructions given by Hackett, who regarded Carne and Waterville as his greatest architectural achievements was this plea "It took nature thousands of years to create this and I don't want bulldozers to destroy it. Don't change anything after I've gone or I will turn in my grave." He can rest easy. His legacy to the game is one of the most awesome golf courses ever constructed, with its wild undulating fairways and cathedral greens.
Towering dunes and rugged landscapes have become somewhat of a cliché in describing links courses but at Carne, the terms seem almost inadequate to say the least. Valleys swing past high dunes, fashioning the most natural, isolated fairways imaginable, while countless mounds host many tees and plateau greens, which afford lovely views of the pristine coastline and adjacent farmland. Right from the first hole a par 4, doglegging 90 degrees to the right, with a green set on a little ledge, great golf holes come thick and fast. There is quite a degree of blindness, while the nines are delightfully contrasting. The outward journey is set against the backdrop of Blacksod Bay, while the homeward loop with some huge dunes, winds its way out to the Atlantic coastline and back again.
Carne Golf Links is equally intriguing as it lies in the Gaeltacht (an area where Irish Gaelic is prevalent as the spoken language). This is apparent in almost everything at Carne, from the names of the holes to the club logo based on the old Irish myth of the "Children of Lir". In fact, during the famine times of 1848, the narrow country lanes of the region were lined with emaciated bodies, their mouths green from eating grass. Never great exponents of fishing and over reliant on the land, local people died beside a sea that teemed with halibut, haddock and hake.
It is fitting to leave the last word on this superb links to the late course architect, Eddie Hackett "I am thrilled with the way the dramatic Belmullet Course has turned out and again reiterate my first opinion that ultimately there will be no better links course in the country; or I doubt, anywhere".