Golf in Ireland - The West Articles
Ireland West, covering the counties Mayo, Galway and Roscommon, was once described by Tourism Ireland as ‘warm, wild and wonderful’ and it is hard to disagree.
The heritage and character that is attached to this beautiful part of the country is rich and varied, and the scenery is seemingly never ending. For golfers especially, this part of the Emerald Isle is a real treat for it is littered with pretty much endless options, which is all part of the fun on a golf holiday.
We start in Galway, Ireland’s most vibrant city and in recent years Europe’s fastest-growing city. Galway offers rich pickings for fans of the Royal and Ancient game. Around ten clubs sit within a short drive of the city centre, with others dotted a little further from the outskirts. Galway Bay Golf & Country Club, a Christy O’Connor Jnr design, is as good a place to start as any. With the Atlantic on three sides and many of its greens exposed to the elements, this unique parkland course is a fitting championship test to begin your golfing journey in the West.
You could, however, begin at the Galway Golf Club at Salthill, a much-acclaimed Dr Alister Mackenzie design that is largely characterised by tree-lined fairways. It’s your choice. Yet another picturesque course is Bearna Golf & Country Club, a popular venue which nestles on the fringe of Connemara with exceptional views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands.
The course celebrates ten years this year, but, for many, it has the look of a classic already. Be warned, though, as water is a constant threat on this charming layout.
Connemara is right on the edge of the West coast and is renowned for its wildly-shaped bays and inlets. Here you will find Connemara golf course, an Eddie Hackett-designed links course where the two nines are markedly different. Interestingly, it closes with two par-5s. Heading inland your attention for an afternoon should be focused on another Hackett design, in this case Dunmore Demense (not to be confused with Dunmore East, in County Waterford, also a Hackett design). The course is barely ten years old but is known locally as a ‘little gem’, and for good reason. It is, quite simply, one of the most enjoyable nine-holers on the island.
County Roscommon sometimes doesn’t get the credit it deserves, but we can vouch whole-heartedly that there are plenty of fine courses in the area. Athlone, a good hour or so in the car from Galway, is a good example. It is a championship parkland course that has hosted its fair share of notable tournaments. Indeed, the Athlone Senior Scratch Cup has been won by Padraig Harrington, no less!
Another must-visit parkland test is Roscommon, a woodland course featuring plenty of water and intrigue. It is courses like this one that prove Ireland is much more than a haven for links enthusiasts.
A golf holiday to Ireland is simply not complete without dropping by Galway and its hinterland, thus the West is where you should be heading!