Golf on the edge of Europe

Connemara Championship Links

You can't get more west in Europe and play golf than this. Connemara Championship Links is just barely hanging on.

Connemara Championship Links
Address Ballyconneely,  Clifden,  Ballyconneely,  Galway,  Ireland
Websitewww.connemaragolflinks.com
Emaillinks@iol.ie
Phone +353 (0)95 23 502
Number of holes 27
Service caddies, driving range, golf buggies, golf lessons, putting green, pro shop, rental clubs, trolleys

As you drive in to Connemara, already several miles short of the course it looks like you could just get out of the car and start playing just about anywhere. This must be how golf got started, the landscape just teases you to get a club out and start hitting at balls (or rocks, as it may have been in the early days).

We you approach the course, the landscape is still the same craggy, rocky grassland, with the exception of some greens and bunkers added. It seems that another 500 holes could easily be built here.

The legendary Eddie Hackett designed the original 18 holes, and the course opened in June of 1973. It has quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest links in all of Ireland, and plays host to the longest running Pro-Am in Ireland, as well as the Irish Amateur Championships in 2013.

The clubhouse

The clubhouse sits on a knoll near the road and the beach, with grand views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the course. It is a full service establishment (as it should be, you are many miles from the nearest golf course), with a well-stocked pro shop and a nice restaurant and bar. Not to mention friendly people. Some of the friendliest, down to earth people you’ll find anywhere. Be sure to hang out in the bar to swap stories.

A+B course

Connemara has three nine hole loops, A, B, and C. The A+B loops are the original course, whereas C was added later. All three loops end at the clubhouse, so you can play them in any combination.

 

The wind is a major factor at Connemara since the course is wide open to the Atlantic and there are no costal dunes for shelter. When we arrived we faced 14 m/s winds from the prevailing southwest direction, which the lady in the pro shop referred to as “a breeze”. On the C track you will see a lot of sand blown up from the beach, especially on holes one and two.

Connemara A+B is a wonderful traditional links course. In spite of being right by the coast, it is not played through dunes, but instead on short links grass. It has wide open fairways, and not too punishing rough, with very few places for you ball to get lost. Being fairly flat, the major obstacles are the wind and the pot bunkers sprinkled around the fairways and greens. The first nine are not particularly long, but again, don’t choose your weapons by referring to the score card; the effective length of each hole changes daily with the wind. A good example of this is the slight dogleg left first hole, quite a challenge at 350 m if the wind is not with you.

On the second nine, the B loop, the course starts climbing a bit in to a hilly, craggy, lunar landscape. The first big challenge here is the 190 m par three 13th holes, with the tee shot over a valley to a gently sloping green. It is easy to fail here with the wind in your face.

The 14th tee is located at one of the highest spots on the course. From here you have a view of the entire course, and if you turn around, also the surrounding very harsh landscape. You definitely get a sense that winters can be rough here. From the 14th tee you can also see the Twelve Bens.

Apart from the fantastic view, another trademark of the back nine are the elevated tees and greens featured on most of the holes. Great examples are the excellent green areas on the 14th, 15th, 17th, and 18th. My favorite green is the 15th, with a partially blind shot to the well protected green. A hole you need a few rounds to figure out.

Information about A+B course

Number of holes18
GreenfeeWeekdays: 85 EUR, Weekends and holidays: 85 EUR
Season January - December
Course typeLinks
Course opened1973
Course designerEddie Hackett
TeeParLength  (yds)CR/Slope (Men)CR/Slope (Women)
Championship727055SSS 75-/ -
Medal726666SSS 73-/ -
Winter726235SSS 71-/ -
Ladies725460-/ -SSS 72

C course

The C course has nine holes, and can be combined with either the A or B course to make an 18 hole round.

The weather looks ominous, but no rain fell on us.The weather looks ominous, but no rain fell on us.Photo: Bo Sjosten (qhd-960:3840)

 

The third loop, C9, was added in 2000 by Eddie Hackett and Tom Craddock. It starts out along the beach below and across the road from the clubhouse.. Holes here are slightly different than the rest of the course, with some sand dunes in play before it is routed in between the holes of the B9 for the final holes. The C9 is good and absolutely well worth playing, but it is not quite as good as A+B. If you only have time for 18 holes, skip C9. But a better option is to stay at a nearby hotel like Connemara Sands, and come back a play the course a few times. It is definitely worth it.

Information about C course

Number of holes9
GreenfeeWeekdays: 85 EUR, Weekends and holidays: 85 EUR
Season January - December
Course typeLinks
Course opened2000
TeeParLength  (yds)CR/Slope (Men)CR/Slope (Women)
Championship353145-/ --/ -
Medal352850-/ --/ -
Ladies352495-/ --/ -

Map and satellite image

lat: 53.421014, long: -10.143846

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