This is a blue collar quirky links course that is nothing short of enchanting. As with so many of the old links courses Lahinch is embedded in a quaint summer resort town-complete with the “vacation trailer park” and probably a carnival midway if you come in the right time of the summer. It sits just a few miles down the road from the famed Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s version of Mt. Rushmore without the faces.
The village has that quaint Irish seaside character and the course holds a very special place among the great links of Ireland. This is not a rich man’s golfing ground-it is everyman’s golfing ground where all are welcome as long as they love to play golf.
The collection of holes is quite remarkable-the original routing was done by none other than Old Tom Morris at the end of the 19th century. But what we see today are the refinements done in the late 1920’s by the esteemed Dr. Alister MacKenzie who designed Augusta National and Cypress Point. There are simply holes here the likes of which you will not see elsewhere. Largest sand hills in Western Ireland except for the back side at Tralee-when my wife first saw the golf course from the edge of town her response was “what golf course”- the players and the greens just seem to be dwarfed by the grandeur of the hills. Now add to the mix windswept hard undulating greens, real Mackenzie bunkering-strategic and intimidating, exposed windy conditions, and an occasional rain squall and you are in for a day of golfing challenges that will thrill and enthrall.
There is certainly no pattern to the routing of the course, you play a five par with a mountain in the middle of it followed by a three par where the green is hidden between two mounds that will remind you of some Grand Old Opry cleavage. Pay attention on this tee because the driving area of the finishing hole literally crosses the driving line toward this green. The next hole has a bunker in the middle of the driving area in which you could hide a herd of very large circus animals (6th hole shown above). And so it goes-one very interesting, very quirky, and very challenging hole after another. When you are done playing this course the first time you cannot sort out the holes in your mind-it is like a Rorschach Test with grass.
The course was renovated in 2002 and they have added and substantially changed a good number of holes. To my eye a brilliant rehab job-the new holes are a wonderful fit-you would not know the additions were not original if you had not played it before. The modifications just strengthen the character of an already strong test.
And don’t start your day without consulting the town meteorologists-take a look at the goats on the hill above the first tee-if they are scattered about the weather will be fair-if huddled take the umbrella and rain pants. Rain or shine or both, you are in for a real golfing thrill ride this day.
Architect: Allister MacKenzie
Tees Par Yardage Rating
White 72 6559 127