Golfempire Review - Ed Battye

"There is an eclectic mix of holes at Strandhill which continually keeps the golfer on his toes. Some provide championship-esque style golf whilst others are quite bizarre – but in a good way – with the rest lying somewhere in the middle. There’s never a dull moment golfing here along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The hotchpotch style is the result of a varied landscape and the course expanding with new holes being added over the years. Ultimately this enhances the experience considerably. The course sits on a small site but plays big, or at least it did in the four-club wind I encountered on my visit!

Strandhill Golf Club was founded in 1931 as a nine-hole golf course although this was redesigned within a decade. The present 18-hole course was opened in 1973 but subsequently altered via the input of several members. The club have more recently carried out significant re-bunkering as well as tee work and minor reshaping of some holes. Work continues as funds allow.

After an awkward opening tee shot we trace the beautiful coastline of Cullenamore Beach for a few holes under the gaze of Knocknarea, a clear-cut limestone mountain, where we discover some excellent green complexes and a bold-as-brass one at the fourth where we must fire up to a green plateaued into a large sand dune; anything short and your ball will roll back maybe 40 meters. The fourth isn’t a great hole but it’s black and white with no grey area and often holes like this work very well.

There is talk on the club website of extending into duneland behind the fourth green to add a couple of new holes which may alter the existing fourth and also enable the club to lose some of their weaker holes in a complete re-routing of the links.

We then embark on a run of holes that offers everything. The 5th and 6th are preposterously good. The bubbling fairway of the former – a par five - is a sight to behold and a joy to play, however, the angled drive from an elevated tee at this hole is also highly strategic and the basin green is a satisfying conclusion to a glorious hole which encourages bravery and shotmaking but also most likely requires the golfer to have a good sense of humour as things could potentially go wrong… through no fault of their own!

And then Strandhill delivers one of the best holes on the island of Ireland. The 6th is a thing of true beauty. The par-four sweeps to the right through dunes to a churning fairway that gradually reveals itself before the glorious view of the infinity green complex appears and becomes fully visible. A pair of greenside bunkers down the left ensure an approach from the tighter right side is preferred on a hole that is truly all-world. Simple strategy and visuals work in tandem here to create a real beauty. I haven’t been as blown away by a hole since playing Portrush last year. I have a feeling the original hole may have played from the other side of the fifth green as you can make out an old fairway but whoever moved the tee closer towards the clubhouse has pulled off a masterstroke.

The 7th – where everything is on display - and the 8th – where very little is - continue our enjoyment factor of Strandhill where the line of quirk and quality is perfectly trodden.

The 9th, 10th and 11th – all played on the inland perimeter side and the ugliest part of the course do not quite live up to the rasping golf we have encounter thus far but all hold merit and provide lots of strategy. In the case of the latter two this is apparent on both the drive and approach. Sleeper holes these may be but they still offer plenty. Safety issues are apparent on the ninth where large netting protects nearby houses whilst the entrance road to the club is only a snap hook away at the 10th.

The next four holes rank amongst the most enjoyable, fun and quirky stretches of golf I’ve played. Because of their unique nature describing this quartet of maverick holes is not easy but as you play round, over and through this amazing part of the property your spirit is lifted with the golf you get to play. On three of the holes you can golf conservatively or take a risky shortcut whilst the short and bunkerless 14th also offers options on how you should try and shape your ball into the green.

The highlight of this sequence is undeniably the wacky and genius 13th. Here you have several options from a high tee box in order to find a mostly hidden, serpentine fairway which meanders down like a ribbon through the largest of the dunes before you hit to a tiny dell green almost entirely surrounded by more dunes with just a small cut in the hills to give you a glimpse of the flag. It could be said that it is not a great hole, a potentially maddening one, but it is unorthodox holes like these which etch themselves into your memory bank. It’s an utterly amazing and original hole; a puzzle which must be solved.

The final three holes are played over less enthralling land but do not disappoint as a finale to the round. The 16th, with an ideally placed central bunker, and the 18th are both tough two-shotters but have a touch of real quality about them whilst the par-three 17th plays much better than it looks.

At just 5,804 meters from the tips it could be argued that the par-70 course is too short to provide truly great golf and although I would perhaps agree that a wind is beneficial to see Strandhill at its best there is no denying that for a large part great golf is exactly what Strandhill delivers."

National recognition for Strandhill Golf Club Links.

​Strandhill Golf Club featured in the Irish Independent Tee to Green magazine recently, the work done by Course Architect Ally McIntosh and Head Greenkeeper Jason Kelly and his team is getting national recognition and the links is climbing up the ranks as a must play venue on the Wild Atlantic Way. The enhancements have made the course more challenging and a memorable experience for golfers of all experience levels.


Another amazing Links Course

What a gem!  It is a fantastic but tough true links course! Especially, page watch out on the back 9! The wind was howling and I got down to my last golf ball on the 16th hole! Had such a great time on this beautiful links course! I highly recommend it!

Visited August 2015

Great, pilule natural golf course

Great, natural golf course, which demands a variety of qualities from your game and character; patience, playing the wind, conservative and attacking play. This is a course for those who enjoy the challenge of links golf, the wind and the terrain; many great holes, many of which would not be designed by a modern architect and great for that reason. Enjoy.

Visited July 2015
Dublin, Ireland

Everything here is amazingly good

My wife and I were on a golf tour of Ireland’s West coast when we found Strandhill. We had played courses such as Ballybunion, Lahinch and Carne and were on our way to our accommodation at Rosses Point before playing Co. Sligo the next day. We needed to find somewhere to have lunch on the coastal scenic route, when my wife, who was navigating, found Strandhill on the map and suggested we called in for lunch.

The reception we received was incredibly friendly and during a fantastic lunch we oversaw much of the beautiful golf course from the clubhouse.

We then called in at the Pro Shop and during a conversation with him, the Pro suggested that we had to call back and play the course. Although we had a tight schedule, two days later, at about 9.30am, we called back to see if we could play.

It was Ladies Day and due to the wonderful weather, many of the ladies had booked tee times. We explained that we needed to be in North Donegal by late afternoon and would not be able to wait until all of the ladies had teed off. The Pro understood our problem and said we could tee off at hole 6 but as we may not be able to get on hole 1, he would only charge us a reduced fee, although he did say if we could get on at hole 1, that would be fine. He even charged us only members rates for a cart, due to the restricted round.

In the event we did get on at hole 1 after playing 18, which was a real bonus as holes 1 to 5 are not to be missed. This course is absolutely superb and although not as famous as the Ballybunions and Lahinches, Strandhill is a course that should not be missed by golfers of any standard, it is so good.

The friendship and hospitality shown by all of the staff was exceptional and certainly unsurpassed by anything else we encountered in this very friendly country. We also spoke to many of the lady players who were also incredibly friendly and helpful with their information and advice.

Amongst many fantastic courses we played from the Ring of Kerry in the South West up to Ballyliffin in the North West, Strandhill stands out as a most fantastic and impromptu diversion in our otherwise fully booked and planned trip. So much so, that in a future trip to the West of Ireland, Strandhill, is a place we will certainly revisit.

Visited July 2015
Birmingham, United Kingdom

Fun Times! Loving the Links!

We traveled from the U.S. and played this wonderful links course. Great conditions. beautiful links and awesome clubhouse and staff (such as “Rocking Tommy” the bartender whose service was top notch and very kind). There are more expensive courses in IRE but this one was a great value and a great test of our links skills. Women are welcome, treated well and respected by the members and the staff we met. I highly recommend visiting Strandhill.

Visited June 2015
Olympia, Washington

Absolute gem of a links course!

Having played Enniscrone, which is just round the coast from Strandhill, I was looking forward to having the opportunity to play this course and the experience didn’t disappoint.

Best of all the course itself is simply superb. The fairways and greens were all in superb condition when we played. Lots of blind tee shots which are a challenge to a first timer but still fair enough to allow good scoring.

You couldn’t ask for any better views or place to play golf than the holes that face and run alongside the Atlantic waves crashing in.

Visited October 2014
Ian C
Leicester, United Kingdom

Another Fantastic Links

I have played Strandhill five times and always enjoy it immensely. Fantastic – views, layout, condition as well as the clubhouse and the staff. I would like to play Strandhill Links several times a year or even more.

Visited October 2014
Halmstad, Sweden

Hidden Gem

I dont want any one to visit here. I want to keep this to myself. The staff could not have been better, a lesson in customer service. What a course, a real national treasure.

Visited September 2014
Ciaran O
Dublin, Ireland

My favorite golf course on the planet

I have been to Ireland 10 times, played 25-35 Irish course (maybe more). My favorite, by far, is Strandhill. And #13 is my single favorite hole. Above Royal County Down #9 and Royal Dornoch great holes. The Strandhill players and staff are great. The course is short enough that average golfers can score yet tough enough that single digit handicaps will end up sitting quietly in the bar shaking their heads.

There are so many memorable holes. #5, a drive off a cliff to an uber-undulated fairway — then an uber-undulated green. #7, a gorgeous par 4. #12, a bugger of an uphill hole. #13, a blind tee shot..then a second shot to the world’s most guarded green. It’s great! #14, a par 3 that will often show you no Stableford points. Then #15 UPhill.

What a superb course. Try it. Enjoy it. Remember it when you are back at home daydreaming. As I do.

Visited September 2013
Poulsbo, Washington

My Husband Loved It

My husband was able to play a round at Standhill during a recent vacation in Ireland. The course had clubs for rend. He played with a member who was from Southern California and whose local knowledge of the course was very helpful. The weather was nasty, rainy and cold and foggy, but he still loved it.

Visited June 2013
OC, California


First Class Experience

I, along with three friends, had the privilege of playing at your course last Friday in the Open singles.  I just wanted to drop a line to say that we found the entire experience to be first class. We made a mess-up with our tee time and on arriving an hour late (!!!) the chap in the golf shop made no issue and arranged for the next available tee time in a seamless manner. On arriving back off the links, we were treated to lovely coffee and toasted sandwiches by an also very courteous young lady who was working the bar. I found the course to be in excellent condition and beautifully presented for the time of year.  What many miss is that golf is meant to be a pleasurable experience rather than getting beaten to shreds by a golf course that will always win the battle. It is a credit to you and I will continue to expound the virtues of your lovely golf course.  These are tough times for golf clubs and golf courses but I encourage you to keep up the good work.

Well done to all concerned.

Kind Regards
Ken Kearney

Hello there!

I recently attended my nieces wedding in your lovely club (Siun Mc Morrow & Jorg Kern) and just wanted to congratulate you but Donal Barry & Tommy Brett especially. We all had a fabulous day. The food was absolutely wonderful, seriously well done Donal, you should be rightly very proud. And the setting was just gorgeous, but then I am slightly biased having spent most of my childhood in gorgeous Strandhill!  (It made me so sad to see The Sancta Maria in such a sorry looking state) The service from all of your staff was second to none and they maintained their hospitality right through the long night and into the wee small hours! So all concerned should take a bow on a job well done and Thank you so much for making a very special occasion such a lovely memorable experience for all of us guests.

Yours sincerely,
Anne Clinton (Mc |Morrow)

A chara,

Myself and 6 friends had the pleasure of playing your course last Thursday, 19th September. We were in Sligo for 3 days playing 3 different courses and our experience at Strandhill was exceptional. From the friendliness and helpfulness of your staff in the pro shop at our arrival, to the members on course who put up with our “slow play” with good grace, to the staff in the bar/restaurant after our round it made for a most enjoyable round of golf. The weather was “blustery” to say the least, (I lost count of the number of times my bag blew over!) but made the occasion all the more enjoyable in our opinion!
Many thanks again, we will certainly be back.

Kindest regards,
Niall Burke,
Rathcore, Co. Meath..