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Westport Golf Club,
Founded: 1908 (1973 present location)
Designer: Fred Hawtree
Championship Length: 7,072 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 74
Situated on the shores of Clew Bay in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, Ireland's famous holy mountain, Westport Golf Club is the finest parkland golf course in the west and northwest of Ireland. The club itself was instituted in 1908 and had three separate locations prior to moving to its present site at Carrowholly in 1973. During the 1960's, Lord Sligo of Westport House Estate presented a proposal to the members of the golf club, to build a championship course on his estate. The offer was accepted and with financial assistance from the Irish Tourist Board, the dream became reality.
Renowned architect Fred Hawtree, who also designed the New Course at St. Andrews, designed the golf course at Westport. Upon first viewing the site, Hawtree commented: "the nature of the terrain part inland and part seaside, the panorama it commands and its considerable golfing virtues, make it uniquely attractive and memorable." Set in 260 acres of rolling parkland and measuring over 7,000 yards from the championship stakes, Westport has developed into a superb course and is a highly regarded championship venue, having hosted the Irish Amateur Close Championship on three occasions, most recently in 1997.
The first five holes at Westport represent a relatively benign start and they offer an opportunity to get warmed up for the challenge ahead and the par four, 6th hole, measuring some 463 yards from the back stakes, is a foretaste to what lies in store. The par five 7th is followed by the long par four, 8th hole, which when the prevailing southwesterly wind is blowing, is almost certainly out of reach in two. The outward journey is concluded with a superb par three of over 200 yards in length, which requires a long iron or wood to green, well protected by bunkers.
On an overall assessment, the back nine at Westport are probably more memorable, with the best being the run of holes from the 12th to the 15th. The 12th and 14th holes are both very testing but scenic par threes with backdrops of Westport Harbour and Clew Bay on the 12th and Croagh Patrick on the 14th. The 13th is a long dogleg par four rated as the most difficult on the course and requires shots of the highest calibre in terms of length and accuracy to record par. But it is the par five 15th, which will prove the highlight of your round at Westport. Requiring a carry of 200 yards (from the championship tees) over an inlet of Clew Bay, the hole doglegs left to an elevated green with the sea and out of bounds lurking along the left hand side.