After midnight on day four, cool and crisp with salt on the light breeze here at the modern and luxurious Diamond Coast Hotel just up the road from Enniscrone Golf Club.
The day began many hours ago with a trip to Letterkenny General Hospital to retrieve ailing golf road warrior Peter Kessler. After a few hours of driving we reached the Enniscrone golf links early—nearly unheard of for the warriors—just in time for our 4:20 tee time. And off we went, out into possibly the most enchanting and unexpected golf course I’ve ever played.
From the very first hole, which starts in a flatland beside the car park and curves past the clubhouse before disappearing into the high dunes, we were mesmerized. Though the amphitheater green looked to be miles away and uphill through a narrow hallway we grappled with long woods and got close enough for two of us to make pars. Number two proved equally extravagant, calling for a drive into a receptive tureen of fairway, and a second shot just short of or into a narrow neck from where an uphill shot to a blind green perched on the edge of the ocean awaited. The third presented a daunting uphill par three with a steep front ready to repel puckish approaches.
At number five the feeling of a stunning mountain backpacking trip gave way to a series of holes out in the flats, the relenting nature of which felt like a vacation. We breathed a little easier, though even these open holes were terrific, featuring elevated greens that successfully deflected winsome shots and demanded instead high, bold soft-landing approaches. The ninth presented a scythe of a par four wrapping along the mudflats of the bay and aflutter with flocks of birds.
By the first hole on the back side the course transitioned into low marshlands beside a scenic bay. From the tee no fairway at all was visible, testing your faith in driver. Upon finishing twelve, pictured above, I wrote in my notes that it was the money shot—requesting a controlled tee ball of about 200 yards and then a flier hit into a shadowy theater where the green lurked, with just a scattering of sunlight, and deep, dark shadows cast by massive dunes.
But then thirteen proved even better—another gorgeous, rollicking roller-coaster ride downhill with a green site worthy of any painting.
By the closing holes we were spent due to beauty and challenge and the delight of playing Irish golf in warm sun in a beautiful place with good friends.