Ballyliffin Golf Club, Ballyliffin, County Donegal
Founded 1948. Links Course
The most northerly golf club in Ireland, Ballyliffin boasts two superb championship links courses. The Old Course dates back to 1948 and was recently redesigned by Nick Faldo, while the Glashedy Links opened for play in 1995 and was designed by a combination of Tom Craddock and Pat Ruddy, of European Club fame. It’s difficult to imagine how two courses on the same piece of land can be so different but this is very much the case.
The Old Course boasts a lunar landscape, full of humps and hollows, while Glashedy is probably a tougher proposition and is generally recognised as the championship layout. Which is better is purely down to personal opinion. It may require a journey to get here but it’s worth the trip and you should really try to play both courses, whether the same day or on consecutive days, staying in Ballyliffin for a night or two.
Often the path less travelled in terms of golf, this region has much to offer. Galway is a vibrant city with many excellent restaurants, shops and pubs and it’s a great place to spend a few days. Moving west towards Connemara, you will encounter some of the most ruggedly beautiful scenery in Ireland and you should include a visit to Connemara National Park near Letterfrack. Other recommendations include Kylemore Abbey, the Renvyle Peninsula, Aran Islands and the Quiet Man Museum in Cong.
Travelling north from Connemara, Westport is another lively town where you should take some time to visit Westport House, while the more energetic might enjoy a hike up Croagh Patrick, known as Ireland’s Holy Mountain. Another interesting stop is the Ceide Fields Visitor Centre near Ballycastle, while the Slieve League Cliffs and Glenveagh National Park should not be missed when in Donegal.