Destination Golf Ireland 2019 * - Page 11

Old Tom Morris statue at Rosapenna. Rosapenna Sandy Hills par-4 6th. 18th at Ballyliffin’s Glashedy Links. Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort. Caddy & golfer on 1st at Castlerock GC. Day 5: BALLYLIFFIN - County Donegal Day 6: ROSAPENNA - County Donegal Ballyliffin is such a beautiful and intriguing spot, that six-time major champion Nick Faldo used to visit it before playing the British Open and at one time was so smitten with the place he tried to buy it, on the cheap according to locals. A remarkable 36 holes meander through this most beguiling of links land, with rocky outcrops, perfect greens and enchanting views of the coast. Principally designed by Mother Nature (with upgrades by Faldo including new bunkering, tees and enlarged greens) the classic Old Links undulates in the glory of its natural terrain. The rippling fairways give the course a unique character and charm and it’s the type of place where you can easily imagine the golfing forefathers striding along the sheep- cropped turf with their hickory clubs. We are now way up in the north-west corner of Ireland, where the hands of the golfing greats have shaped and moulded the links at Rosapenna, one of the oldest in the country. Old Tom Morris laid out the original course in 1893, and over a century later came the 18 holes of Sandy Hills, which is as inspiring in the 21st century as the Old Links were in the 19th. This is another 36 holes of magnificent links golf at its very best and a stunning location for our final round at Sandy Hills. The more recent Glashedy Links (designed by Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock) is fashioned around the incredible dunes on predominately higher ground above and beyond the Old Links offering stunning views as you play. Here, we tee it up with two other golfers we meet, Jo from Belgium and Scott from America and engage in a thoroughly enjoyable matchplay contest. The course kicks off with three long par-4s and the challenges never let up – negotiating cavernous peat-riveted bunkers, large contoured greens, fairways that twist and roll between towering dunes and a collection of exciting par-3s. Designed by Pat Ruddy, Sandy Hills is a course of gargantuan proportions that bobs and weaves its way through mammoth sand dunes, with spectacular elevated tees, clearly visible landing areas and large greens. A statue of Old Tom Morris who must have seen it all before, watches on as we drive off on the 501 yards par-5 opener. The holes wind and twist their way through a maze of the tallest and shaggiest dunes on the coast, where a sense of isolation and tranquility surrounds you. One hole that will etch itself in the memory is the par-4 6th where you drive over a crest then look down at the emerald green below with a stunning panorama of Muckish Mountain, Sheephaven Bay and the golden beach of Tramore. Sandy Hills at Rosapenna isn’t your average layout – it’s a golfing adventure on a brilliant course and a fitting finale to our ‘Northern Links’ trip... Overnight: Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort (Rosapenna) Overnight: McGrory’s (Culdaff) WHERE TO PLAY (The 6 courses) WHERE TO STAY Ardglass Golf Club: Slieve Donard Resort & Spa: Portstewart Golf Club: donard-resort-and-spa/ Royal Portrush Golf Club: Bushmills Inn: Castlerock Golf Club: Ballyliffin Lodge & Spa Hotel: Ballyliffin Golf Club: Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort: Rosapenna Golf Club: McGrory’s – For more information and a variety of golf packages to play in the area, visit: 9