Greenside bunker at the 3rd holeClosing hole to the front nine Looking back down the 11th
Donegal Golf club was originally formed in 1959 but has moved since the first course was laid out on land near Donegal Town at Tullycullion. The current location is on the Murvagh Peninsula, where one of Irelandís leading golf course designers Eddie Hackett was commissioned to design a course that opened for play in 1976.
The course has been through quite a bit of reshaping and modelling which Pat Ruddy has undertaken, but I must admit it wasnít until I see an aerial photograph of the course that I realise itís on a peninsula. You come off the main road and through a forest that opens up into the course, so you really do have no idea that this track is surrounded on three sides by water.
The course opens up with a 530-yard, par-5 and depending on the wind gives you a nice chance to open with a birdie. There are five teeing options on this track so you can play anywhere from 7,392 to 5,720 yards Ė a set of tees to suit your game or you can have a bit of mix and match.
I really enjoy this course and itís a tough test of golf. It may not have the stunning surround-sound views of Sligo, but it does offer a beautiful setting to play golf, especially the sixth and eight holes where youíre playing right beside the beach. Even if youíre not playing from the back tees I would recommend you go and have a look. As I would the 12th back tee Ė not that I recommend you play from up there, itís a monster! Weighing in at 594 yards, if the wind is blowing and youíre playing into a 3/4 club headwind, I think even Popeye would have trouble getting up in three.
The back nine finishes with two relatively short par-4s measuring 355 and 379 yards from the white tees, so if youíre playing from those you will have a couple of birdie chances if you manage to keep it on the fairway. From the back tee on the 18th you have an extra 60 yards to negotiate with your drive, which needs to be threaded through two big sand dunes. But no matter what tees you play from, itís a tough but fair challenge and one that I know youíll want to play again.