Northwest Ireland’s Golf Cup Overfloweth

Going around 10 often-demanding courses in nine days, we’re pretty sure that we’ve gotten maximum mileage out of our golf trip to northwest Ireland. But that doesn’t mean we’ve exhausted the possibilities. Three other waterfront links layouts played during previous trips come to mind, all easy to integrate into our itinerary, if only you can find the time. From north to south.

Just 10 miles or so from Ballyliffin – though the commute is the better part of an hour – is Portsalon Golf Club. Like Murvagh, its setting overlooks an estuary, Ballymastocker Bay, and thus lacks the towering dunes at, say, Rosapenna. But its panoramic mountain views and shifting atmospherics are worth the trip.

The course itself first opened in 1891, but its modern character is, like much of the region’s golf architecture, attributable to Pat Ruddy, whose 2001-2 redesign added more than 1,000 yards, moving the tips back to 7,100 yards, par 72.

Just 39 miles northeast along Sligo Bay from Enniscrone is Rosses Point, AKA County Sligo Golf Club. Whereas Enniscrone and Belmullet are conceived rather effectively to exude the timelessness of ancient linksland, Sligo actually is, its first nine dating to 1894. The “new” track is a 1928 redesign by the venerated H.C. Colt and has been home to the West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship since 1923.  Five miles from the eponymous town, Rosses Point an icon of golf in northwest Ireland, playing 6,600-plus yards, par 71 from the back tees.

The craggy terrain adds dramatic changes in elevation to the usual culprits, wind and length — 6,611 meters, 7,222 yards, from the back tees.  Members we talked to, though, cited the 13th, a 196-yard par 3, as the most problematic hole. (

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