By Matt Smith
On Day 2 of Golf Digest Middle East’s trip to Ireland, we swapped the luxury of the K Club for the Wild Atlantic Way and Lahinch’s 125 years of history. Read on to discover more about this great links course.
Lahinch Golf Club
Lahinch, Co Clare
Old Course: 18 holes, par 72, 6,950 yards
Castle Course: 18 holes, par 69, 5,344 yards
• South of Ireland Championship (1895-2022)
• Irish Open (2019)
A trip to Lahinch is like a ticket back in time to experience how golf was played back in the days of Old Tom Morris.
The Scottish father of golf himself described this as “fine a natural course as has been my good fortune to play over”.
That alone should give an inkling to the heritage and history here on the Atlantic coast (start swimming in a straight line from Lahinch beach and your next dry land will be in Newfoundland, Canada). Lahinch Old Course is a true links that has been operating for more than 125 years, since Mr Morris himself came over to create it in 1894.
Despite many changes over the years, golfers are immediately immersed in history as they set off up the hill on the first hole, with narrow fairways and thick rough present throughout an undulating opening nine holes, where hiking boots may seem more welcoming than golf spikes if you stray from the strips of fairway.
One of the first things you will be warned about if you play next to this exposed fishing village is: “Be prepared.”
With the ‘Wild Atlantic’ as it is known looming, the weather can change in seconds and it is not uncommon to see players arrive back at the clubhouse drenched, wind-beaten and sunburnt in equal measure after 18 holes.
Aside from the spectacular views, where the famous Cliffs of Moher can be seen from the highest points on a clear day further up the coast, one fabulous and memorable feature is the Lahinch goats, who have helped manicure these grounds for more than a century. (They can also serve as a handy weather warning as they usually make their way towards the clubhouse if things are going to turn more inclement.)
Following the exposed opening holes and their stunning views out across the estuary — including one of the most fabulous hidden par-3s in Ireland — the back nine on this ‘out-and-back’ set-up offers a bit more shelter from the sea and wind.
This is a true jewel of a links course that offers gem after gem of unique holes to challenge golfers of all levels. Regardless of the weather — remember to prepare for four seasons in one day — this is a must-do golfing experience that will live long in the memory.
WHERE TO STAY:
Old Ground Hotel, Ennis, Co Clare
The four-star Old Ground Hotel is one of the top hotels in Clare in the heart of Ennis Town, offering luxury dining at the Town Hall restaurant and live music and entertainment in the Poet’s Corner bar. oldgroundhotelennis.com
Cliffs of Moher
One of Ireland’s favourite tourist attractions, the Cliffs of Moher (above) tower over the County Clare coast, some 700ft at the famous O’Brien’s Tower, offering astounding views across the Atlantic. With 14 kilometres of safe treks of varying difficulty and an interactive visitor centre carved into the hills, the Cliffs have inspired generations of artists and poets and are simply a must-see.
Burren National Park
The Unesco World Heritage site is renowned for its stunning beauty, rugged limestone trails and views over Galway Bay.