All you need do to
understand the quality of golf on offer here is to look to the list of
famous names that have left their fingerprints on the course. Old Tom Morris
was heavily involved in Lahinch’s formative years and Dr Alistair Mackenzie –
he of Augusta National and Cypress Point fame – has since sprinkled his magic
dust over the links, resulting in one of the most enjoyable tests of golf in
Ireland; one that Phil Mickelson certainly has a soft spot for. Of the links at
Lahinch, the legendary left-hander said, “I’m actually a member at Lahinch. Lahinch is one of
my favourite golf courses in the world.”
While the setting here is pure, quintessential
links and so enchanting it seems fairytale-like, it is however, double-edged. Totally
exposed to the elements, the course’s character can change in a heartbeat so be
prepared for a rough ride should the weather take a turn for the worse. One thing
that never changes though; is the inherent challenge the course presents.
Quite simply, Lahinch is a shot-maker's haven and
somewhere where the grip it and rip it mentality will more likely than not,
prove to be futile and often catastrophic. Golfers are required to employ their
creativity and innovation to offset awkward stances created by the endlessly
rippling links land. Discipline, patience, and perseverance are required to combat
patches of heather and gorse, not to mention the sometimes relentless wind.
Intimidating, all or nothing tee shots, ingenious
bunker placement – one of Mackenzie’s hallmarks – and several blind shots also
add to the challenge and charm of the Old Course. For lovers of links golf, Lahinch
is simply not to be missed.
One last tip...the local goats who inhabit the
course are the perfect barometer. When they’re casually grazing the links, all
is well. When they’re seeking shelter, so should you!
||Old Tom Morris, Alister MacKenzie & Dr Martin Hawtree
|Opened for play
||Irish Open (2019)
Signature Hole – No. 6: Par 4, 424 yards (Blue Tees)
There are many holes at Lahinch which could rightly claim to offer a
“signature” experience, such is the quality of the course as a whole, but it’s
the holes late in the back nine and around the turn, those close to the shore,
which really add some sparkle to Lahinch. While it’s a tough call, we’ll go
with the par 4 6th as the signature hole.
The tee shot here is a demanding one, played to an elevated fairway, between
two banks of dunes that line both sides of the hole. Once you emerge over the
brow of the slope, the Atlantic Ocean suddenly appears, serving as a dramatic
backdrop to the approach shot. A massive crater with a small bunker at its base
serves as a distraction while over the approach shot, as do the spectacular
views on offer out over the ocean.
The green, which seems to be perched on the edge of the world, is
multi-tiered and well protected by dips, hollows, bunkers and banks of rough at
the back. If you walk off with a par here, give yourself a pat on the back.
Lahinch Golf Club is ranked as one of the best courses in Ireland
Naturally, countless golfers flock to the fairways of Lahinch to have a
crack at the Old Course, and while it would be fair to say the Castle Course is
not quite in the same league as its older sibling; that is not so say it’s not
worth playing. This is a bona fide links test, and one that is just as fun to
play as the Old Course.
Laid out in the mid 1970s, the Castle Course
occupies a patch of links land slightly further from the coast than its more
established sibling, but the test of golf is entertaining nonetheless. The
Castle is far shorter, more forgiving and less undulating than the Old, so it’s
a great place for the higher handicap to get a taste of what’s to come on the
Old, as well as offering a slightly more relaxing day on the fairways for the
more proficient golfer.
The remains of Dough Castle, after which the
course is named, are visible from various viewpoints around the course and is
prominent towards the end of the front nine, especially on the 7th
hole, adding a unique charm to the course.
||Commander John D. Harris
|Opened for play
Signature Hole – No. 6: Par 3, 211 yards (White Tees)
The 6th is a beautiful par 3 which would certainly not look out of
place on the neighbouring Old Course. The tee shot is played over a valley
towards a well protected green with Dough Castle looking large in the
Picturesque, playable and yet potentially perilous; this hole is everything
Lahinch Golf Course embodies.
The clubhouse is a welcoming place where even as a visitor you still feel like member of many years. Part of the charm of the clubhouse is that homely feeling and so it is important that you take some time to enjoy it. Enjoy the friendly and welcoming environment as you get ready for your round. You can also expect a nice pint of Guinness when you get in to discuss your round over.
Make sure that you visit the pro shop and take a memento of the famous course home. Lahinch is a course that real discerning golfers know of and so you get serious kudos if you have played it. For the ultimate experience, get a caddy to help guide you around the course. You will be helped to play your best and also learn some more about the hallowed turf.
Some of the best players in the world are honorary members of the club including Irish greats such as Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington. There is a reason that these golfers love this course, now it is your chance to find out this magic for yourself.