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Donegal Golf Club,
Designer: Eddie Hackett
Championship Length: 7,280 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 75
Lying in the bosom of beautiful Donegal Bay and backed by the magnificent Blue Stack Mountains, Donegal Golf Links (or Murvagh Golf Club as it is also known) was designed by the master of Irish golf course architecture, Eddie Hackett. Following his designs at Connemara and Waterville Golf Links, the links at Donegal was his third such project and it was destined to be on a similarly grand scale as his two previous creations.
It will always be a matter of dispute whether golf originated in Scotland or Holland but in Donegal, similar to Lahinch, it was the Scottish influence that brought it to our shores. While on overseas service in Ireland, the Scottish army regiments saw beautiful links land, similar to the lands upon which the great Scottish links were built, and they encouraged the local gentry to do the same.
Configured in two loops of nine holes, Donegal Golf Links is often described as the Muirfield of Ireland and the course can provide a fearsome challenge when the wind rises, as is reflected in its standard scratch of 75. Isolated from the rest of the mainland by a thick mass of woodland, the site is spectacular by any standards. And as the designer recalled with a crushing simplicity "The greens are on natural sites, only the levels of some were adjusted by hand. All I had to do was to develop the course on what nature provided."
There are so many excellent holes at Donegal Golf Links that it is hard to know where to begin but the stretch from the fifth to the eighth is generally regarded as being the most exciting. The par 3, fifth measures over 190 yards from the tee to a plateau green, which is receptive for a well played shot, while the par 5, sixth offers a stunning view of the beach from a high tee box. The seventh plunges downwards to a two tiered green and requires two excellent shots and so the eighth, an exceptional par 5, measuring 550 yards. Two cracking woods will leave a pitch to a massive green, where slackness is ill advised if you want to avoid three putts.