Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Great North Links Challenge...

... there's still time to get in on the act in 2012.

The Great North Links Challenge takes place between October 3 and October 5, 2012. The competition plays over Ballyliffin (Glashedy), Portstewart (Strand) and Royal Portrush (Dunluce). These are the three 'big' courses at each club (between them they have seven in all) and it includes this year's Irish Open venue, which will probably be in the best nick of its life.

There are plenty of remarkable Challenges out there (see my earlier post for details) and this is right up there with the best of them. You can still enter your team of four (or try to stick your name down individually - there are bound to be spaces) and the event is both Singles Stableford and Team Stableford.

If you're interested, contact Ballyliffin on 074 937 6119, but entries close next week.

Accommodation is plentiful, from Ballyliffin Lodge ( to The Ramada Portrush to The York in Portstewart, but this is just a sample from each venue. I've stayed in the latter two and found them both excellent.

For those concerned by the length of travel time from the two Northern Irish golf clubs to Ballyliffin - don't be: the Lough Foyle Ferry from Greencastle to Magilligan is running until October 7th.

Ballyliffin (Glashedy)
The stark beauty of Glashedy Rock combines with the roughly hewn mountains to give Ballyliffin a raw air – one that is matched by the club’s two courses. Designed by Pat Ruddy, Glashedy bears all of his hallmarks, namely that it is as elegant as it is lethal. The course dives into big dunes, pops up again briefly for stunning vistas of Donegal from the 7th tee box, and then heads back down again. Golfers must approach greens with great care if they are to score well, for poor shots are harshly punished here.

[Photo: Ballyliffin's par three 7th, from the highest dune]

Portstewart (Strand)
Few would argue that Portstewart’s front nine is among the best on the island. You are thrown straight into a landscape known as ‘God’s Own Country’, where valleys and tall dunes help to create holes that are tantalising and picturesque. Thorny bushes abound and only the brave, or the foolish, will attempt to retrieve balls from them. The new clubhouse is magnificent, as are the views over the 1st tee from its balcony.

[Photo: Portstewart's 17th green - taken from 18th fairway]

Royal Portrush (Dunluce)
A thrilling links that combines a worldclass reputation with some of the country’s finest holes (5 and 14 most notably). Like RCD, the Dunluce course has an air of greatness and an aura of invincibility which will inspire you all day long. Be patient as club selection is the key on holes where you can almost always see what lies ahead.  Enjoy the wonderful moment when you step onto the 5th tee and experience everything the course has to offer.

[Photo: The par three 11th at Royal Portrush, with the par four 15th behind]

And if you're already playing in it, then best of luck and enjoy.

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