Dunfanaghy Golf Club - Par 68 - 5,771 Yards
Don't be fooled by the par figure of just 68 - there is just one par-5 on this lovely seaside links. And don't bring a slice! Dunfanaghy is a superb holiday links, not quite in the league of some of its more testing neighbours, but quite content to provide its own test of golfing skills and a chance to savour the majestic north Donegal coast at Sheephaven Bay.
Laid out in 1905 by Harry Vardon, 6 times winner of the British Open, Dunfanaghy provides a reminder of what golf must have been like in those days. The natural terrain provides the challenge, with a number of streams meandering across the course, the superbly natural location of the 14th green and the shoreline that threatens on the right hand side on many holes coming in.
The first six holes are played out towards Port na Blagh with out-of-bounds an ever present threat on the right hand side. The fifth presents a particularly interesting green with several elevation changes. Prepare for some fun if you are putting from one to the other - especially downhill!. Ths sixth is ranked as the hardest hole on the course - a long par-4 featuring a superb approach to an elevated, narrow green.
From a stunning tee-location, overlooking the beach and Sheephaven Bay to Horn Head, the seventh (209) yards is a terrific par-3. Club selection in a wind will be critical, although if the wind is directly against there is only one choice for most - play it as a par-4! Another gorgeous par-4 follows (where the beach is out of bounds on the left) before one of the most memorable holes on the course - the par-3 9th.
The ninth is just 120 yards, but the tee shot must be played across a sandy cove to a green also protected on the right by the beach. All of the beach is out of bounds so precision is required on the tee shot. The tee-shot to the tenth holes is also played across the beach which is again out of bounds. Out-of- bounds also features all the way up the right hand side of the 11th and 12th holes.
At the 16th, more out-of-bounds lurks for anything pushed right on approaching the green of the only par-5 on the course. The approach is made trickier because the hill guarding the green slopes towards the fence - beware of the wind!
Anywhere else and the par-3 17th would surely be one of the most famous holes in golf. The tee is elevated, pushed up against the shoreline. The green is tucked into a corner - 198 yards away - with nothing but the beach tight to the right and behind it. The tee-shot is virtually all carry over dune grass. Finding this green will be a great achievement, ducking out left may be sensible but could lead to some severe treatment from the rest of your party!
The only blind tee-shot is reserved for the last, up and over the hill. No prizes for guessing whats right!
Dunfnaghy is highly recommended for all but the most serious of golf tours. Traditional and unpretentious, it is a good golf course and has simply stunning scenery. It will eat a slice alive but otherwise should provide the chance for a respectable score. But will you survive the 17th?!
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