Playing links golf in Ireland is an amazing experience, and we thought it’d be interesting to find the best value links golf course in Ireland. There’s more then a few courses that you may not have heard about but can still play for a reasonable price.
And we really are lucky here in Ireland as we’re surrounded by truly great golf courses so there’s plenty to choose from. Drive around the country, particularly along the coastline, and you’re more than likely to find a great links golf layout.
Many of the famous names you will be familiar with – Ballybunion, Lahinch, Portmarnock, Waterville, The Island, Royal County Down, Royal Portrush… there’s a stack of them but those big names often come with a big green fee.
We like the idea of saving you money, so we wondered if there’s a course out there that could provide that real links golf experience without the €150 green fee.
We’ve found there’s more than a few courses in Ireland ‘off the beaten track’ and well worth playing, and this is our first links golf adventure (on a budget):
Cruit Island Golf Club Co. Donegal
This is not a course you just happen upon as you drive by.
It is literally at the edge of the earth.
Get to Donegal, head west until you can go no farther and you’ll stumble upon this little gem.
As the name suggests, it is on an Island and the course itself is located right at the very end of that Island. It’s only 9 holes, but a more spectacular setting you’d struggle to find.
Follow the narrow island road as far as you can and almost out of nowhere you’ll see an explosion of sand dunes. You’ll have to drive across the 1st fairway to reach the clubhouse but it’s all right there in front of you.
The course itself is perched on a rocky piece of rugged headland surrounded by beach’s and cliffs, and as such is a true links course with all the bells & whistles. Blind shots, shots over dunes, rocks & water, it’s got it all. Plus there’s Atlantic Ocean views all the way to… I’m not sure actually, the Artic I think.
There’s nothing tricked-up about the layout either: the greens are right there at the end of fairways and are shaped along with the landscape around them.
The bumps and hollows mean traditional shot-making skills get a through test, and as it’s only nine holes the good news is you’ll have some idea of where you’re going on the second go-around…. knowing where to hit it is a huge bonus here.
There’s quite a few blind shots, which I’m not normally a fan of, but there’s definitely something about this place. It’s not long, but it’s not easy either. Like all links, how it plays depends on the weather but Cruit is so far North (& West) there’s always a little breeze to make it interesting… pick a really windy day & you’re likely to blown back to Letterkenny.
There’s a small but active membership who are super-friendly and will give you that warm Irish welcome (if you can find one of them). The beer was cold too.
The best way to describe Cruit is like a poor-mans Old Head of Kinsale (that’s a compliment)… just a scenic but only E25 a round.
We took Paddy Golf with us, and here’s his travelogue if you fancy a look:
Looks great, but how on earth do I get there?
Cruit Island is located in North West Donegal, just outside the town of Dungloe, which is about a 4 + hour drive from Dublin. Donegal Airport is a 65 minute flight from Dublin and the course is about 5 miles away from there (with the money you’ll save on green fee’s you can afford to fly over 😉)
For enquires and tee-times, check out www.cruitislandgolfclub.com
The 19th Hole
We couldn’t travel all the way to Donegal and not sample a few of the local craft ales.
As well as great place for golf courses, Ireland has a lively craft brewing scene and Donegal is no different. On Cruit we sampled a couple of bottles from a local Donegal craft beer producer, Kinnegar Brewing, and they really took our fancy.
There’s six brews in their ‘Farmhouse Brew’ range (named because they started brewing in an old farmhouse overlooking a beach at Rathmullen) and several special edition brews too.
We decided to sample a few while we watched the waves roll onto the beach, and it was the Lime Burner that really tickled our tastebuds.
It’s an all natural wheat based Pale Ale, vegan friendly, nice and light, crisp and aromatic with a great hoppy finish.
But let’s not get too carried away with the beer snobbery… they all tasted pretty good to us.
For more info, goto www.kinnegarbrewing.ie
If you’ve got a course you think we should check out drop us a line at email@example.com You never know your luck, we may even ask you to show us around 😉