Monday, June 20, 2016

A Lot of Love for Lahinch

Lahinch's seaside 7th hole
It had been eight years since I visited Lahinch and Doonbeg golf clubs. In 2008, I was driving a camper van as part of a three week trip to the West coast; in 2016 it was a mere three days… but playing two such remarkable courses made the quick trip more
than worthwhile.

Both courses have experienced changes in recent years… Lahinch only a few, Doonbeg many more… including a new owner and new name.

I started with Lahinch, a small town on Liscannor Bay, with the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren only minutes away. The town has an intriguing vibe where surfers and golfers and family summer holidays collide. That’s three extremes, not to mention the locals. Eclectic is the word… and one well suited to a restaurant on the seafront named Randaddy’s. I was assured it was the best food place in town. That may be the case, but there’s only one golf course in town and that was my first port of call. Strictly speaking, there are two golf courses here because Lahinch also has the 18-hole Castle course across the road, but the ‘old’ course has such a history and reputation that the Castle will always play second fiddle.
The par three 8th at Lahinch
Lahinch Golf Club was upgraded by Martin Hawtree in 1999, and he returned much of Alister MacKenzie’s original flavour to the course, especially the green complexes. Certainly on my visit the greens were magnificent and their variety of shapes and sizes makes smart approach play essential… missing the putting surface can often be a colossal mistake.

A full set of Lahinch photos is on my Flickr Page.

I played with Jamesie O’Connor and his cousin, John. They steered me round the course and proved once again how invaluable local knowledge can be when you play a magnificent links like this. 
Views over the 3rd green at Lahinch Golf Club
Without some of their advice I would have lost a handful of balls (the rough is unforgiving) and I would never have been on the par five 4th green (the famously blind Klondyke hole) putting for an eagle… it’s a long time since that happened. There are no weak holes here… nor are there any soft holes. You have to be focused over every shot and be aware of what lies ahead, to the sides and around the greens. It is a brilliant if tough challenge through cavorting dunes that only lose their aggression late in the round. The 18th is the course's tamest hole, but as a par five with a seriously bumpy fairway, it offers an excellent birdie opportunity... and that's a great way to finish here.

You are unlikely to forget the magical and blind par three ‘Dell’ hole, nor the exceptional par four 6th, which loops up and over, presenting the most stunning approach shot of the day (see photo below), and the 1st is a fine opening par four which should teach you an invaluable lesson if you stray offline or miss the green.
The par four 6th at Lahinch
The changes to the course focus on the introduction of smart grass paths between holes, which match the vibrancy of the course. The clubhouse has had a shake up, with the Pro shop moving back into the main building while the ‘office’ has moved the other way. There will also be a comprehensive short game area opening up later in the summer.

Oh, and if you want to get a tee time… good luck… the course is very busy indeed. Lahinch green fees: €170-€180 peak season.

My one disappointment… not seeing the famous goats. With the new Ghostbusters movie about to be launched I’d hoped to stick up a photo with the line “I ain’t afraid of no goat”.

Next up... Trump Doonbeg.

1 comment:

  1. Great photo of the 6th hole ... that is indeed a lovely view. Great golf hole, too!