Glashedy 2nd hole11th on the Old linksBunkers protecting Glashedy's 15th
There are two courses at Ballyliffin: the Old Links and Glashedy. Everyone has a favourite and some of the golf magazines have put Glashedy above the Old Links, but for me I feel the Old Links just clinches it. What I would say is that Glashedy is a tougher course, but in the end youíre just going to have to go there and find out for yourself which one you prefer. One thing is for sure: you wonít be disappointed that you did.
Ballyliffin has a very unique history and if youíre interested in going into this in-depth I would suggest reading the history section on their website. A brief synopsis is that Ballyliffin GC was formed just after the Second World War when land was rented from several land owners, but work on the new course which is now known as the Old Links began in 1970. By 1973 there were eighteen holes.
There is no one designer of the Old Links: it seems that Eddie Hackett and Pennick & Lawrie course designers all had a helping hand with quite a few suggestions by Martin Hopkins. Throw in a couple of holes being re-routed by Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock in 1991, while they were commissioned to design the Glashedy course, and a Faldo design in 2009, and a course has emerged Ė under Pollan Strand, Binion Hill and Crockaughrim Hill which add an air of mysticism to these links Ė and you have a truly wondrous setting to play the Royal and Ancient game.
I compare the fairways on the Old Links to playing golf on bubble wrap, the way they just ripple and roll, so donít be expecting a perfect lie or stance. This is links golf the way itís meant to be. You may be lucky like we are on the 16th to watch a low cloud roll in off the sea and cover the course in its whispery white tentacles Ė truly an amazing experience adding to this majestic feeling that Ballyliffin inspires.
Glashedy Links, was, as mentioned earlier, designed by Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock in 1991 to alleviate play on the Old Links. At over 7,200 yards from the tips itís a tough, tough challenge and if the wind is up it could make you cry and laugh in equal measure. It sits on higher ground than the Old Links, but like the Old Links it offers some truly beautiful vistas that the eyes canít help but soak up.
I could run you through each hole, telling you the yardages and views, but Iím going to leave that this time. Youíll see those views and holes on the images and video on this page. I donít say this about many courses: yes there are places I think you should visit and play, but if there was only one destination to play golf in your lifetime I would tell you to visit Ballyliffin and play both courses. Because I know when the Ballyliffin clubhouse disappears in the rear-view mirror as you pull away, those courses, that arena, that mysticism, will leave within you a feeling of pure joy and elation, no matter how you played.