Sligo Golf Club is located in the picturesque seaside village of Rosses Point, under the shadow of Ireland’s table mountain Benbulben and with views of the Darty Mountains. It is laid out on a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic two miles north of the town of Sligo and is 50 minutes from Ireland’s West Airport.
It is a course carved by the earth, winds and water and a true test of golf. Its lofty seaside position inevitably means strong winds vigorously and frequently sweep across Rosses Point. The spectacular scenery of mountains, ocean and countryside surrounding these classic links has been immortalised in the poetry of the famous Nobel Prize-winning poet W.B.Yeats.
From the third tee on a clear day, you can see five counties, the lighthouse out to sea, the cliffs of Slieve League in Donegal, Lissadell House in the trees across the bay, Queen Maeve’s grave on top of Knocknarea, Drumcliffe Church next to where Yeats is buried and the imposing background of Ireland’s table mountain Benbulben.
Thanks to the magnificent setting and Atlantic seascape, Rosses Point is always a different course and a different challenge. It is one of Ireland’s great championship links.
Golf was first played in Sligo when the Sligo Militia had a few holes around their camp. In 1894 Colonel Campbell one of the officers and a Sligo businessman considered forming a club. He acquired the lease of some of an area known as the Greenlands from the Middleton family.
The club was formed in October 1894. Col. Campbell formed a committee and the club had 96 members. It was decided that name of the club would be “The County Sligo Golf Club”. The entrance fee was set at £1-1s and it was agreed to admit Ladies for a subscription fee of 10s-6p.
Colonel Campbell engaged the services of George Combe, an experienced golfer to lay out nine holes. Combe had the distinction of devising the world’s first handicapping system and was closely associated with Royal County Down Golf Club.
The local hotel was used as the first clubhouse. In 1896 George Combe presented the “Combe Cup” to the club at the opening of the nine holes. It is still played for in August Open Week.
In 1907 it was agreed to extend the course to eighteen holes and more land was leased. The holes were laid out by Captain Willie Campbell an accomplished golfer. The new holes ran along the beach and were combined with the original nine holes.
In 1927 due to the technical changes in clubs and balls and the development of players and the game, it was decided to improve the course. Harry Colt of Colt & Allison acknowledged as one of the foremost golf architects of his time designed the planned course.
Some of the finest golf courses in the world had been designed by Colt. Work was carried out in 1928 and 1929 and the resulting course is established on sand dunes and cliffs overlooking two large beaches.
(7369 yards, Par 71)
Drumcliffe Bay sweeps around the course. The Ox Mountains with Knockalongy its highest peak add to the stunning views. The “Colt Course” is named after the course architect Harry Colt who redesigned the original course in 1927.
It is a strategic course which was one of Colt's main principles. It has great variety with spectacular undulations and raised plateau greens with severe runoffs. Some of the routings is through dunes and there are burns and severe bunkering.
The terrain is varied with towering cliffs, high and low ground. On the back nine holes, eleven to seventeen are played on a resplendent headland. It is a course that you can enjoy as it is very fair and will reward a good shot but with subtle undulations and punishing rough there is no room for errant shots.
It was Peter Allis who said, “Rosses Point is a gentle sleeping giant and one will marvel at its beauty, it can be a tremendous test for the highest quality player and great fun for the modest player and stands at the top of great Irish courses.” Bernard Langer the great German professional said “ Rosses Point was the first links course that I ever saw as a young professional starting out on the Tour circuit.
I went to play one round and stayed for two weeks.” The course recently needed further updating and has been developed further by the great links architect Pat Ruddy. Ruddy was raised in the small townland of Ballymote in County Sligo. He was familiar with County Sligo from when he started to play golf. Originally he was a writer and In his book “Holes in my Head, A Lifetime Dreaming Golf Holes” he spoke about the recent renovations.
He was delighted to be invited to work on improvements to County Sligo’s links with the last design being by the renowned Harry Colt. It was where the seeds were sown for his career in Golf Architecture.
He saw the job as revitalising a classic design and charted the greens in detail because that was essentially how he was going to leave them. The plan included improving the course with new tees at holes one, five, eight, ten, eleven, fourteen, fifteen and seventeen.
This would give extra distance and improve strategy as many holes were straight from tee to green. He decided that the game would be greatly improved for Championship play with new green extensions in order to place the pin close to bunkers or runoffs. Some new bunkers would also be used to add character to the old untouched greens.
The four par threes would not need any changing. The four par fives however were yielding too many birdies and eagles and would be modified to enhance the challenge. The routing was hardly changed and most of the greens. He wanted to pay tribute to history while adjusting a great links to the modern game.
(3332 yards. par 35)
The golf club acquired the lease of the area in the sixties. Nothing went ahead and in the early eighties, nine holes were laid out but never built. In 1994 the club appointed Jonathan Tucker to design and oversee the development of the course. The project commenced in 1997 and was opened for play in 1999.
The nine holes present a very different challenge from the championship course with prickly gorse bushes and numerous water hazards awaiting an errant drive. The terrain is flat and mostly below sea level and is regarded by many as a challenging test.
The nine holes start with a par four with a slight dogleg and a ditch just short of the green. The second is a par four and has a ditch crossing the fairway, which can be cleared but only by long hitters. The third is a straight par four but with a tight fairway and penal rough.
The fourth a short par three has a stream running along the right-hand side of the green to catch wayward shots. The fifth a par five double dog leg has a pond on the left-hand side and heavy gorse near the green. There is heavy rough on the right side and some gorse, a ditch crosses the fairway and there is a plateau green. The sixth is a par four dog leg, with a tight fairway with gorse on both sides and penal rough.
A ditch runs along the left-hand side right up to the green which slopes down towards the ditch. The seventh is a par four with a slight dogleg, but there is heavy gorse on both sides of the fairway for the second shot up to the green and a ditch crosses the fairway. The eighth is a long par three with gorse on the left-hand side near the green and bunkers on the greens right-hand side. The ninth is a par four with heavy gorse on the right-hand side and out of bounds on the left-hand side. Normally into the prevailing wind, it is a challenging finishing hole.
Enjoy a lively cultural, music and restaurant scene, theatres, museums, cinema and country markets. The Coleman Traditional Irish Music Centre is a festivity of Irish Music, Culture and Heritage as communicated in the South Sligo Style of music played by Michael Coleman and other musicians of his time.
The Model is one of Ireland’s foremost contemporary arts centres with an all-encompassing and vibrant programme of visual and performing arts. The Hawk’s Well is a 340 seat theatre in Sligo town. It hosts a varied programme of arts and entertainments including professional and amateur drama, a wide range of music from traditional and jazz to opera, plus dance, pantomime, children’s theatre and comedy.
The Blue Raincoat Theatre Company creates between four and six professional productions every year, with an emphasis on staging modern European classics, new writing and new adaptations for stage.
The Sligo County Museum contains a fascinating collection of exhibits detailing Sligo’s rich stone-age history. The contemporary multiplex cinema in Sligo town shows the latest big-name movies as well as live theatre.
On Hyde Bridge is the Yeats Building a beautiful 19th-century red brick building, the home of the Yeats Society Sligo, which exists to support local community art and to promote the Yeats Heritage in Sligo.
This building is now the Headquarters of the international Yeats Society, from which the Society keeps in contact with members all over the world, and from where the Yeats International Summer School and Winter School are administered, as well as the day-to-day running of the Society. A permanent Exhibition attracts visitors throughout the year, and there is also a fine Library.
Just 5 kilometres from Sligo is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland and is also among the country’s oldest, with monuments ranging from five thousand to five thousand eight hundred years old.
Archaeologists have recorded over 60 tombs of which 30 are visible. A restored cottage houses an exhibition relating to the site. Although many have unfortunately been destroyed and others damaged over the centuries, together they comprise the largest collection of megaliths in Ireland.
Most are a mixture of passage graves and dolmens, the oldest dating from between 3000 and 2500 BC. The whole scene is dominated by Queen Maeve's tomb on Knocknarea, a 327-meter-tall limestone hill situated just west of Sligo. Hour-long guided tours or self-guiding options are both available at the visitors centre.
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