Lahinch Golf Club – Old Course Championship

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  • Architects:
  • Consultant:
    • Hawtree, Martin
  • Green Keeper:
    McDonagh, Brian
  • Holes of Merit:
    3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 14
  • NCG Rank:
    25/100 in GB&I
  • Golf.com Rank:
    36/100 in the World

At A Glance

  • Incorporation of natural landforms
  • Bold, quirky features
  • Efficient routing

Full Course Review

Lahinch Golf Club is an experience. It is rugged, natural and authentic. The golf? Tamed ferocity & enchanting both quirky & bold. Legends of golf course architecture have laid out a course over some of the best links land the world has to offer. The craft of Old Tom Morris, Alister MacKenzie and Martin Hawtree has been equal to the site they had to work with. The result is nothing less than mesmerizing. It is world-class and rightly deserves its spot in the discussion of the worlds best.

Hole By Hole

The first hole gently ascends an incline where the green is situated on the edge of a landform platform. The Second hole begins teeing off the same platform almost back to sea level. The Third works its way back up to the top of the platform through a blind tee shot. Although back and forth, the three holes in no way resemble each other nor are any of the requisite shots repeated.

The next three holes make up one of the quirkiest series of holes in golf. The fourth crosses the entire property, from seaside to the boundary road interrupted by Klondyke, a massive dune smack dab in the middle of the fairway. With no option but to go over it, it is the epitome of a blind shot. It breaks all the rules, and it is a cracker.

Following Klondyke is Dell, the par 3 - fifth. Dell is Klondyke's little brother. Obscuring the majority of the green, you must carry the dune. In both instances, the build-up to the shot and the expectation following add an exhilarated rush that climaxes with jubilation or misery.

The sixth begins with another blind tee shot. After reaching the top of the ridge, you must carry one of the most substantial natural depressions on a golf course to reach the green. The hole, called Paradise, quickly becomes hell if you find it.

In all three instances, the brilliance of not only using but directly involving these features in play is a stroke of genius. The other interesting feature is the routing of these holes. Running perpendicular to the first three, the next three bisect the entire property. A par five is laid out from seaside to the roadside. Then, from the road back to the sea employing, a par three and later a par four.

After playing back to the sea, you play alongside it, the seventh being reminiscent of the third. The eighth is a visually stunning one-shotter whose infinity green is deceptively long and has hidden bunkers left and right. This beauty of this hole will steal not only your breath but your heart as well.

Nine plays back inland and is a superb example of strategic golf using natural topography. A ridge runs diagonally across the hole, creating a shelf which affords a plethora of options. The ideal line is left but requires the longest carry. Fail to reach the shelf, and you're left a blind second into a long, narrow green with a massive drop on the left and bunker front right. Play it safe, and you've left yourself no option but to lay up and try to save par with two solid attempts at a pitch and putt due to the orientation of the green.

The back nine at Lahinch Golf Club is equally marvellous. Ten eases you out to the far side of the property. The short par three eleventh, with no bailouts and wind factoring significantly, is a cracker with the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop.

The downhill eleventh is a three shotter which runs along the estuary. The third par five of the round, it is probably the most scenic. Dough Castle sets the line from the tee in the distance.

A high risk and reward par four comes next. Aptly named Mine, it could be a disaster if not successfully executed. The fourteenth requires a straight tee-ball, setting up an ideal second between two dunes called "The Twins." Characteristically, natural land formations are again incorporated into the design. The fifteenth is a long par four. The elevated tee on sixteen gives you a view of the estuary and a little help to a green guarded well on all sides. The last of the par three's, it completes a set of one-shot holes which would stack up well against any.

Seventeen and Eighteen are perhaps the least arduous of the holes. They are engaging closing holes which complement the ones proceeding them. They demand precise tee shots and careful thought to your approach. Perhaps their most significant threat is the potential lowering of the guard to the uninitiated. If you've survived to the very end, merely ending up on the left side of Eighteen could be a card wrecker.

In Conclusion

There are blind shots, forced carries, some substantial elevation changes and lots of quirkiness. Despite all of this, it is genius and easy to grasp. Although cerebral it is understandable the first time you play it. There is a bit of everything: Idyllic par three's, a variety of par 4's and four distinctive par five's. The green complexes are superb. Course conditioning? Exemplary.

Why does Lahinch Golf Club stand out? The routing is top drawer. Views are given of the bay and estuary throughout but not all at once. Unusual, natural landforms are used with exquisite delight, especially on 4, 5, 6 & 14. Every inch of the parcel of land is used to its full potential, but it doesn't feel cramped. There are twenty holes and two practice greens - an absolute masterclass in maximum efficiency of land use. Add to this the conditioning, world-beating green complexes and stunning beauty, Lahinch Golf Club is a pilgrimage every golfer needs to experience. You'll be richer for it and understand the spirit of the game at another level.

Further Watching

No Laying Up visited the course and the video can be seen by clicking here.


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