Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cruit Island Golf Course Review

Cruit Island 
(Established 1986)

View over the 9th green, back to the 7th tee
A nine hole course it may be, but try telling that to the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 9th holes, which may be among the best and/or wildest you’ll ever play. The other holes aren’t exactly shabby either. There’s enough brilliance here for about three golf courses, and the beauty of this course is that it is so natural, so unexpected and so exciting. And that’s before you mention the location, tucked away on Donegal’s rugged coastline. There’s nothing fancy to the course: the greens simply come at the end of fairways – which makes them utterly lethal, I might add – and the design conforms only to the shape of the landscape that created it. That is, perhaps, its greatest asset.

It’s a long drive to reach the club and almost out of nowhere there’s an explosion of dunes. You drive across the 1st hole to reach the clubhouse and you instantly get an idea of the golf experience that awaits. No fuss, no pomp – just a completely natural and mesmerising flow. Hidden humps and hollows make a mockery of traditional shot-making skills, and you’ll be thankful it’s only nine holes so that you’ll have some idea of what you’re facing on the second loop. Holes 4, 7 and 9 will utterly befuddle you with their flag-hiding ridges short of the green, while some fairways twist so dramatically your trolley is likely to tilt over. And as for knowing where to hit… good luck… take the drive off the 1st as ample warning.

View back to the 7th tee
As much as you will love this course, there are certain moments that will live long in the memory: walking over the crest on the 3rd to reveal Gweedore across the water and the green below; climbing onto the dunes beside both the 3rd and 7th tees to enjoy the 360 degree views of islands, ocean and Donegal’s mountains.

This is enthralling golf from start to finish. No shot disappoints and you will be challenged every step of the way. And I haven’t even mentioned the 6th hole – quite possibly one of the best, most beautiful and most terrifying par threes in the world. It is little wonder that Cruit Island is often discussed as one of the world's most spectacular nine hole golf courses.

One of the world's most stunning par threes - the 6th
Favourite Hole
All of them… but it has to be 6, hitting over a chasm of sea and rocks, with ocean and islands beyond and absolutely no bailout area whatsoever.

Toughest Hole
If not Hole 6, then 5 for being so blind and such a sharp dogleg, or 7 for its tough carry from the tee and then blind shot to a precarious green.

Course Design 19
Appeal 9
Fairways/Greens 8
Bunkers/Water 8
Location 10
Facilities 4
Value 10
Golf Experience 20

Total 88
Green fees at Cruit Island are a mere €25, and while the course is a long way from anywhere this is a beautiful part of the world. Nearby courses include Narin and Portnoo, Dunfanaghy, Rosapenna, Portsalon and Letterkenny, as well as the 9 hole at Gweedore.

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