Lahinch is undoubtedly one of the world's classic links and one of Ireland’s best-loved and admired seaside links courses. It possesses two of the most famous holes in Irish golf, the 4th hole a par five known as Klondike and the 5th hole, par 3 known as Dell.
They have been retained as original holes by Old Tom Morris. Lahinch is a world-ranked links golf course that has always attracted overseas visitors. Often referred to as the St Andrews of Ireland.
The recently redesigned course has met with wide acclaim and is consistently ranked in the World Top 50 courses. Every hole is a challenge for the discerning golfer. One unusual feature of the Old Course is the presence of goats which are allowed to roam freely across the course.
They were originally owned by a caddie who lived near the course, and in 1956 a goat was incorporated into the club's logo.
In 1892 officers from the Black Watch Regiment of the British Army went to the west coast of Clare to locate dunes suitable for a golf course. They discovered Lahinch and laid out a links golf course.
The first game of golf was in April 1892, feathers and sticks were used to mark out the nine-hole course which was on each side of the Liscannor Road. Old Tom Morris was engaged to lay out a new course in 1894.
Willie MacNamara was Golf Professional and Greenkeeper at the Club from 1899 to 1927. He went to the Westward Hoe club in England to learn greenkeeping. The Golf Links Hotel opened in 1896 and golfers from all over the world came to stay at the top quality hotel. The West Clare Railway was a further boost to the early development of golf tourism at Lahinch.
In 1927 the world-renowned Golf Course Architect Doctor Alister MacKenzie was engaged and within a year18 holes were developed. His course featured triple-tiered undulating greens. John Harris, a well-known golf architect developed the plans for the Castle Course in 1961 and the 9 hole course was constructed in 1963.
It was extended to an 18 hole golf links course in 1975. Doctor Patrick Hillery served as Captain, President and Trustee of the Club. He served as President of Ireland from 1976 to 1990. In 1992 the Club celebrated the centenary of its foundation with a special Centenary Dinner.
Guest of honour was Joe Carr, Captain of the R&A and one of the legendary figures of Irish amateur golf.
In the last decade of the 20th century new challenges faced Lahinch Golf Club. With major advances in golf technology and equipment and the unprecedented increase in golf tourism playing the course on a year-round basis, Lahinch Golf Club decided to enlist the services of Golf Course Architect, Doctor Martin Hawtree in 1999.
His plan modernised the course at Lahinch providing a top class championship golf course. In the new layout, the sand dunes closer to the Atlantic Ocean were utilised and 14 greens were redesigned introducing wonderful undulations thus making putting a fine art.
In 1990, following an invitation from the Men’s Committee, lady golfers became full members of the Club and the Club is now governed by a Council with representation from both the Men’s and Ladies’ Committees.
(6950 yards, par 72)
The club is right alongside the town of Lahinch with the links course starting and ending in the town. It is a classic 'out and back' layout alongside the lovely beach of Liscannor Bay. Situated on the northwest coast of County Clare, it's approximately 20 miles northwest of the town of Ennis and within easy reach of Shannon Airport.
The course is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Inagh River and the town. The links are a place of incredible beauty, challenge and exploration with an absorbing routing and it does not disappoint. It’s a pilgrimage for many visiting golfers from near and far.
There are towering sand dunes, heaving fairways, undulating fast-paced greens and a fair share of quirky blind shots. Many greens are tricky and a caddie is advisable for your first round. The course is rugged, varied, unique and has fantastic views from almost every part of the course.
It is thought-provoking and great fun with an abundance of pot bunkers ready to gather your ball. For links purists playing Lahinch is certainly an experience not to miss. From a rich history with its outstanding natural terrain, it has profited from excellent golf architects to maintain its prominence.
At the club, despite its fame, there is no air of self-importance or privilege. In fact, the close relationship between town and golf club is something you see a lot in Ireland. On the links of Ireland, the community and everyday town life are generally bonded together as one. The clubhouse after the round can be great craic with storytellers recounting their best shots, drinking away their worst but everyone at ease toasting Lahinch.
In 1999 the famous British golf architect Martin Hawtree brilliantly modernised Lahinch creating an outstanding challenge. He wisely left the magical “Klondike” and “Dell” holes alone. The improvements include the re-routing of holes towards the Atlantic Ocean and the strengthening of trouble around the greens where bunkers, swales and mounding now make approach shots from any distance a challenge.
He created two new par threes at the 8th and 11th, re-routed 4 holes, 16 tees were rebuilt and 14 greens reshaped. The par 4 holes at Lahinch in particular are now generally regarded as the best in Ireland offering a wonderful challenge even to the strongest player.
The finished Martin Hawtree redesign at Lahinch has received worldwide acclaim and is now consistently ranked among the world’s greatest links courses.
(5488 yards, par 69)
The Castle Course is a flatter links golf course named after the ruins of a nearby castle tower that stands at the northern end of the property. It is on the opposite side of the road from the Old Course.
Although less difficult it represents is its own brand of toughness with cleverly positioned bunkers and water hazards to trap the unsuspecting golfer. Many golfers enjoy playing the Castle Course rather than being brutalized by the gruelling Old Course with its blind shots and towering dunes.
Dough Castle (1306) provides a wonderful backdrop to 7th hole on the Castle Course.
Originally founded by the O’Connor’s in 1306, its old name translates as O’Connor’s Sandbank and it was an O’Connor stronghold until they were ousted by the O’Brien’s in the days of Queen Elizabeth 1.
The tournament has only been held once at Lahinch in 2019. It is said that Lahinch did not bid for it but Ryder Cup legend Paul McGinley asked the club if it would do him the honour of hosting the tournament. It was a resounding success, on the Saturday Robert Rock from England shot a record-breaking 60.
However, Jon Rahm’s final eight-under-par round for 62 included an eagle and eight birdies. There were 11 threes, eight of them over the course of an 11-hole spell from the seventh. It was a performance worthy of the great Seve Ballesteros after coming from five strokes behind Robert Rock with a memorable charge. Rahm now needs just one more win to match his idol with three victories in Ireland.
He hopes that the stay-away PGA Tour stars will follow his lead and play next year. Rahm added: “It would be amazing to see some of the best players in the world come over and play because they really are missing some of the best golf courses I’ve ever played in my life.
Rahm said: “I keep saying, I love is this tournament. I love this country. I love the people and feel like I’m at home every time I come”.
The caddies are an integral part of the Club and a large number became very fine players in their own right. Their deep knowledge is much appreciated by the many visitors who might find it difficult to pick their way around.
Players are asked to enjoy their game by walking the course and the club requires visitors playing the Old Course to take at least one caddie in the group.
They are full of wit and wisdom and dedication to the job that has always been the way of the Lahinch caddie, without whom the game in this golfing paradise would never be quite the same.
381 yards, Par 4, index 8
From the tee, it is uphill with two fairway bunkers on the left another further up on the right.
The green is protected with two tricky bunkers front right.
The green has a slope from back to front.
446 yards, Par 4, index 4
From the tee, you drive uphill into a blind dogleg left.
The putting surface is protected by two bunkers and depression so you need to carry to the green.
It is difficult in the wind and the green is tricky.
449 yards, Par 5, index 18
An infamous Tom Morris hole known as ‘The Klondike’. You tee off with the waves of Liscannor Bay crashing behind you and must land your ball between the dunes with the fairway in a deep, narrow scenic valley.
You are faced with a towering dune in the centre of the fairway – the Klondike.
Then you have to play a blind 200-yarder over the monstrous sand dune to the oasis of safety that is the green.
Alternatively, it is not a long hole, you can decide to lay up before the huge dune, then play for the green.
The green is flat but long, get your clubbing correct because behind the green is out of bounds.
154 yards, Par 3, index 16
The controversial Dell hole inspires either delight or desperation but always awe at its natural beauty.
You play your tee shot onto a green that is straddled front and back by sand dunes.
The pin position, not visible from the tee box is indicated by the placement of a stone on the bank of the near dune.
It is an anxious walk over the dune in anticipation of what lies beyond.
The green is shallow, quite wide across and enclosed on three sides. It is said that this is the most aced hole so try your luck.
411 yards, Par 4, index 12
From the tee it is uphill and a blind dogleg left.
Then downhill slightly on an undulating fairway to the well-bunkered green.
170 yards, Par 3, index 13
The green is protected by three bunkers to the front and is blind on the right side.
There is run off front, left and back and a ridge on the green.
577 yards, Par 5, index 9
Longest of the par fives, there is out of bounds down the left.
There are four bunkers to the front of the green.
Mounds give problems down the right of the fairway but the hole is quite flat.
The green complex is excellent.
461 yards, Par 4, index 5
A long par 4 with a partly hidden valley as an entrance to the mounds facing it. There is a ridge fronting the green so if you cannot reach the green it is best to lay up short.
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