Lahinch Golf Club – Old style Links, an Irish Golf Vacations must
We started our review of the feature courses of our South West Golf Tours Ireland Special Offer by looking at Trump International, Doonbeg, one of two links courses of international renown and world class distinction in Co. Clare. Since then we have been to Adare, in County Limerick, Old Head in Kinsale, County Cork, and we have visited two gem links gifts in County Kerry.
Today we return to Co. Clare another county with not one but two world class links courses, and so we take a close up look at the second of those courses, Lahinch Golf Club, a piece of history in itself and a must play experience as part of any recommended Irish golf vacations package. First off, let’s remind ourselves quickly of two things, that are always to the fore of Irish Golf vacations long time expert Mike Ryan. By flying Shannon, you are arriving in Co. Clare, just outside of Limerick City. Right here we are in very short driving distance to a collection of the most amazing golf experiences nucleated more closely than perhaps anywhere else in the world. This in a nutshell is what makes this area ideal for Irish Golf Vacations be they customized or from a menu. As a veteran of Ireland Golf Vacations, Mike says that it gives him enormous pleasure offering his clients five star accommodation, five star golf links courses and five start hospitality, but its the fact that its all bundled up so neatly in the South West Ireland Golf Vacations special offer that really makes clients feel they get more golf and less logistics for their money, and that’s what the Executive Hire team are all about.
Lahinch is the connoisseur’s choice, old style links that evokes those images of rolling green carpeted fairways, undulating with challenges and traps placed by nature in spots you couldn’t have better imagined yourself. Often ranked in the world top courses, Lahinch has been blessed by the vision and subtle abilities of each of Old Tom Morris, Dr. Alistair McKenzie and more recently Martin Hawtree. Not one but three members of the ‘whose who’ of golf course design. Like many of the links courses we visit, there are two courses to choose from but really we want our clients to enjoy the best and most unique golf experiences, and here, just as in Ballybunion, we’re going to be looking at the Old Course (the other course being the Castle Course).
The first hole is one that breaks you ion to the day gently assuming the wind is not up too much, and no harm to get a decent score here as they wont come as easy later.. The second is more illustrative of the challenge the day will bring, with numerous sand bunkers here lining the fairway left and right as you hopefully progress back in the direction of the village. Hole 3 is a tough par 4. You have to give your drive everything you to get the most out of an elevated fairway that knocks yards off what you’d otherwise yield. The green is further elevated again sitting as it does above the beach below. Having completed the third you are now playing a sequence of holes that collectively form what is for many the pinnacle of their Irish golf vacations experiences. Your excitement for the day grows as you place your back to the ocean and face down the narrow 4th fairway. We love this hole because it’s like playing a piece of history. It hasn’t been touched since Old Tom Morris laid it out well over a century ago. Even if you strike well off the tee, the massive sand dune to your left will make your approach shot blind, but the caddy’s here are good and if you trust the advice, you could be walking towards a birdie opportunity. If you liked the 4th then 5 will blow your mind, surely this is in the worlds top ten most unique par 3’s. Again no one has founds the need to modify Mr Morris’ design here, and why would they? Shoot blind to the green to land you ball in between three imposing dunes, just spectacular. On to 6 and your in the mood for it now. The scene is set, the scenery is awesome, this links course just gets better. This dog leg left has a green almost as undulating as the fairway you have had to almost wrestle to the ground just to get there! More of the same on the 7th another dog leg. When you get up to the green, take a little minute to enjoy the ocean vistas. If you’ve brought you’re a game, the 8th will be just great. A firm tee shot will carry the non existent fairway to a green well guarded by sand and dunes. The 9th can be a moment of respite to finish your outward 9, if, you keep left off the tee, and right then towards the green, good chance of a score here to set you up for the homeward 9.
The back 9 starts with what can only be described as a beautiful collaboration between Mother Nature and Dr Alistair McKenzie. This long slender par 4 requires accuracy and strength on the fairway, and on the green, you need to read the undulations to do justice to your efforts thus far. The 11th is a par 3 that if you play well will be a wonderful golfing moment for life. You tee of towards the ocean with the small village of Liscannor in your eye, and you’re very conscious of the towering dunes to your left and sand to your right, Mike’s tip, if you have to make green just once today…this is the one! The 12th is relatively short for a par 5 but what she lacks in length she replaces with a few tricks, like out of bounds all to the left, a deep mine to the right, and even if you land between them, the green is quite small. Many of our guests have managed to snatch a bogey from the jaws of a birdie here! If you got close to a good score but maybe not quite, here comes your chance. For some the 13th is lucky, and even the green is drivable. That said, we shouldn’t use the words ‘even’ and ‘green’ in the same sentence there, as this one is the same as how Mike likes his cake…3 tiers. The danger for tee shot inaccuracy is large and looming, if your driving is long and accurate go for the big score here, otherwise, lay up and allow an approach shot club choice that will put you pin high on the right tier. Tee shot accuracy is a long running theme around here and its not about to change folks, you need the fairway on the 14th to allow you to carry the two sand dunes that guard this green like two centurions over castle gates. Same on the 15th, a whopping 466 yards off the back sticks, and add to that if you’re facing down the wind. Your tee and fairway shots must be straight and true to avoid certain trouble. But this green will reward a good approach. Its nice to have a short par 3 after a long 5, and 16 is downhill, but again, anything not on the green means another dropped shot.
If you got used to the front 9 and middle holes being tight and closed, things open out a little on 17 and 18, but you’ve got to drive big to be able to get some change back from the course here. Both are long holes and both peppered with sand traps and bumps galore to punish anything even slightly astray. Any sense of fading energy here is a punishable crime. But we have had people head for the comfort of the clubhouse with par par on days where the wind has been just a bit kind.
Hope you enjoyed our in depth tour of a course that invariably finds itself on a golf connoisseurs bucket list, but always a must on each of Executive Hires customized golf tours Ireland as well as our South West Ireland Golf Vacations packages. The Southwest Golf Tour Special Offer runs into 2015. It’s a superb opportunity for you and your touring party to secure an upgrade stay at Limerick’s 5 star Savoy hotel. Couples get an upgraded suite, or otherwise guests can have a room to themselves instead of sharing. All transport is provided from the moment you are collected at the airport to the moment we drop you back for you flight home. The Executive Hire Fleet is all Mercedes and tailored for golfers needs with ample space for gear, luxury seating, on-board free wi-fi, refreshments, and of course the most knowledgeable and fun chauffeurs and personal drivers you’ll find anywhere in Ireland, just look at our testimonials and also our page on Trip Advisor. Thanks for reading, and on behalf of all the team at Executive Hire, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2015.