The Links at Ballyliffin

It was christened 'the Dornoch of Ireland' and for years golfers in the know regarded Ballyliffin as the ultimate hidden gem. Not only is this one of the friendliest clubs in the country but the setting is unsurpassed and the quality of the terrain so perfect for golf that those who accidentally stumbled across Ballyliffin felt compelled to speak of it in whispers. Thus it was enchanted as well as enchanting and Ballyliffin seemed destined to dwell in splendid isolation. Then two things happened.

In June 1993, on a glorious day when 'seals basked on Glashedy Rock and the sea off Pollan Strand was as blue as the Bay of Naples', a helicopter landed adjacent to the clubhouse and out jumped Nick Faldo. The world's number one and reigning Irish and British Open champion immediately fell under the spell, but then he hadn't encountered anything quite like Ballyliffin before. With its amazingly contoured fairways, this was a course that added new meaning to the phrase 'a natural golf links'. Suffice to say Faldo was bowled over by the experience and word of his visit soon filtered down the golfing grapevine.

The visit was, in fact, extremely timely for only a few months earlier the club had taken the ambitious decision to begin construction of a second 18 hole links course. The architects were to be Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock who promised the club that they would build one of the world's finest golf courses. Within two years they had honoured that pledge. So now Ballyliffin has 36 holes, to savour - two outstanding and contrasting links courses: the classic Old links and the magnificent new Glashedy links. Perhaps the sun will soon set over our Dornoch of Ireland. ..only to rise with the Ballybunion of the North.

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