As an Irishman living in Scotland I find I get the best of both worlds – the challenging links courses in the notorious “home of golf” and also the hidden gems nestled in the Irish countryside – and what a beautiful countryside it is.
Having played a number of different courses throughout Ireland, I contacted some of the golfing network I’d built over the years to see about playing their home course – Enniscrone on the North West of Ireland, a small seaside village between Sligo and Ballina. Enniscrone Golf Club, a championship links, lays in the headland of Killala Bay and the mouth of the River Moy Estuary with some exposure to the Atlantic Ocean.
Driving down from Belfast, we took the scenic route and crossed through around 7 different counties, along peat lined roads and eventually to the seaside village of Enniscrone (or Inishcrone as it is known in Ireland). The course itself is set right on the Wild Atlantic Way with fantastic views of Ireland and out to the Atlantic Ocean with some holes sheltered by imposing sand dunes covered in marron grass – a lovely sight to see.
I had booked to play two rounds of golf at Enniscrone Dunes as part of a four ball, one of which was a member of the course. We teed off late morning for the first round with the weather being kind to us for October – a slight breeze but dry conditions. I have to admit, the first hole is intimidating with the clubhouse and out-of-bounds down the right hand side of the hole – I played right centre and was let down by my approach to the green which made for an overall six on the par 4 hole. I didn’t let this impact the remainder of my round.
For me the most difficult part of Enniscrone Dunes was the 15th “The Strand” hole. The tee shot requires accuracy and distance from the White Tees – ball placement on the right side of the fairway gives clear access to the green which is slightly dog legged left. The green has run off right and left and is on three levels – I ended up with a 5 here (a par 4 hole) which I was pleased with.
The best part of the course for me was holes 1 to 6 and 11-18. These particular holes ran through the sand dunes and a number had unspoilt views out to the Atlantic Ocean and peninsula of land on the other side of the estuary. The course overall is fantastic, but holes 7 to 10 for me weren’t as dramatic in the use of the various undulations created on the fairways of the other holes through the dunes.
Enniscrone Golf Course is celebrating 100 years of Links golf and if you haven’t played it yet, I would highly recommend it. It is a beautiful location and, like most places in Ireland, the people are friendly and happy to accommodate you. The course is a great links course which is a test for any standard of golfer. The best advice I can give would be to try and play with a local member, as the knowledge of the course is second to none in trying to navigate the fairways, greens and sometimes, blind shots! I played in October where the weather was still kind and the course was in fantastic condition.
Lots of airbnbs around the area (we stayed in the Cahermore Holiday Village) or hotels locally and the Pilot Bar is worth a visit for a traditional Irish feed and a pint of Guinness after a good round of golf!