Ballyliffin Is Sight For Sore Eyes

Photo: Tom Harack

After an overnight, transatlantic flight, you probably wouldn’t be eager to, say, play an all-out hockey game or run a marathon. But golf once again proved the perfect palliative for the rigors of travel – including a four-hour-plus drive after we landed in Dublin.

Our destination was Ballyliffin Golf Club, on the Inishowen Peninsula, near the northernmost point on the Emerald Isle, Malin Head. The commute was worth it. Today we played the Old Links, tomorrow will be the Glashedy Links.

The Old Links — architect and exact date of completion unknown — was described by English pro Nick Faldo as “the most natural course” he had ever seen.  As the characterization implies, the par 71 layout, 6,600 yards from the back tees, is essentially ungroomed, predominantly flat but dimpled with hundreds of moguls, adding adventure even to well-struck shots.

Ballyliffin has become marginally “Americanized” since the first time I visited: Distances are now measured in yards, not meters, and buggies, or motorized carts, are a standard presence rather than an anomaly reserved for the certifiably immobile. A Fald0-guided renovation cum redesign provided bunkering that respectfully updates the Old Course, and the place retains its far-flung-outpost-of-the-game appeal.

There’s even a new, more modern iteration of the sign heralding the entrance to the club, although this reporter continues to prefer the vintage version (right), done in the simple style of the characteristic signage of the region.


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