Rosapenna Golf Club,
Designer: Tom Morris, James Braid, Harry Vardon
Championship Length: 6,266 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 71
Rosapenna Golf Links is located where the water meets the wilds of northern Donegal, a place where the Bays of Sheephaven and Mulroy converge. The wild Atlantic waves have chiselled the rugged features of Rosapenna over thousands of years and the resulting beauty is spectacular. The air is fresh and invigorating and the welcome warm and sincere in the typical Donegal way.
Aided by the genius of nature, Rosapenna has been shaped and moulded by the hands of golfing greats. In 1891, while a guest of Lord Leitrim at his nearby estate, Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews was out enjoying the spectacular Donegal scenery. Morris was quick to see the amazing golfing potential of this fine stretch of coastline and before returning home, had staked out the first Rosapenna links, incorporating wide rolling fairways and delightful greens amidst the rugged undulating terrain. Following reports from Old Tom about the delights of his discovery, Rosapenna became a place of pilgrimage for golfers by the turn of the century. Over the years, James Braid and Harry Vardon added length and bunkering to the course and so good was the initial design, the links remains virtually the same today.
Like Portsalon and Narin & Portnoo, its near neighbours on the northwestern Donegal coastline, Rosapenna is quite uncelebrated in international circles. The links is of traditional layout and relatively unaffected by the throngs of golfing visitors that visit Ireland's southwestern parts. Rosapenna stands almost untouched by time amid some of the world's most beautiful countryside. In fact, part of the charm of the course is its relatively secluded position. Playing the golf courses of northwest Donegal will give you a flavour of real Irish links golf and how it was before commerciality afflicted the game. You perhaps won't be playing the famed courses that people recognise but you will be playing superb links, with histories to match.
In 1990 the great old man of Irish golf course architecture, Eddie Hackett, was commissioned to build a further eight holes and a second 18 hole layout, designed by Pat Ruddy in the dunes above the existing design and incorporating the Hackett holes, opened in late 2002. Thus as golf enters its third century at Rosapenna, golfers from around the globe have an opportunity to sample 36 excellent, championship links holes in one amazing venue.