Ballyliffin (Glashedy) - Donegal - Ireland

Ballyliffin Golf Club,
Ballyliffin,
Inishowen,
Co. Donegal,
Ireland


  • +353 (0)7493 76119

  • John Farren

  • Pat Ruddy, Tom Craddock

  • Gareth McCausland


Ballyliffin is Ireland’s most northerly golf club, located off Tullagh Point on the Atlantic edge of the Inishowen Peninsula. It’s difficult to pin a date on the earliest origins of the game of golf at Ballyliffin, but it is clear that the Ballyliffin Golf Club was founded in 1947. The Glashedy links is, however, much, much younger.

In Pat Ruddy’s book Ballyliffin: Golf’s Great Twin Miracles , the author writes about how the Glashedy came to be built: “In 1992, Ballyliffin came back into my life with a telephone call from the club asking whether I would be interested in looking at their links with a view to improving the bunkering and perhaps suggest some other possible improvements.

My late pal and partner Tom Cradock and I would visit them within a few weeks. When we got to Ballyliffin and I saw that the club had almost 400 acres of beautiful dunesland it was my turn to swoon. What a great place. What a great opportunity to build another great golf links. But we had to move fast because of upcoming restrictive planning laws.

‘Forget about bunkering the links you have,’ I urged, ‘let’s build a world beating second links. We can get back to bunkering your existing links later.’ Timing is everything in this life. I had just opened my own links at The European Club at Brittas Bay and I had learned a great deal in the process and not just about growing grass on sand.

I had learned how to qualify for a government grant. I knew that environmental labels were being placed on linksland and that the planning laws were about to be changed and make the creation of new golf links almost impossible. The Ballyliffin men listened as I told them to get to Dublin and see how, at that very moment, red lines were being drawn around their land by conservationists.

They got active politically. They got the best consultancy advice. They formed a company. They went at it and got a grant of £315,000 which was a huge sum of money at that time and it was a massive boost to a club which had never gained any type of grant previously! Now the game was on. Nothing could stop the inevitable now.”

Work started in spring 1993, and after significant earth-moving, the Glashedy links (pronounced Glasheedy) – named after the Glashedy Rock, Ballyliffin’s equivalent of Turnberry’s Ailsa Craig – opened for play in the summer of 1995, to much acclaim.

Pat Ruddy returned over two winters in 2012-13 to oversee the revetting of all the bunkers on the Glashedy. This work was done in-house, led by head greenkeeper Andy Robertson, who joined the club from Sunningdale in 1998.

Ballyliffin is often described as “the Ballybunion of the North” or “the Dornoch of Ireland” and the reason is simple; all the aforementioned are set amidst towering natural sand dunes. This youngster is no exception, except that the Glashedy links has been flattened out, ensuring that the fairways are relatively even and capable of hosting a championship... there's a parallel here to the fairways of Royal Birkdale.

The Glashedy routing is intertwined with the Old course, the holes weaving their way through the wild dunes. It’s a supremely challenging golf course which stretches out more than 7,200 yards, with nine brutal par fours in excess of 400 yards. You really do need to be on top of your game to play to handicap. The huge greens, with some frightening undulations, are well protected by bunkers; three putting can be alarmingly frequent.

The Glashedy links is certainly good enough and long enough to hold important championships and already it has hosted the North West of Ireland Open. It would be fascinating on a windy day to watch the very best professionals stretched to their absolute limit on this wild and challenging links course. Surely the Glashedy links must be a contender for a future Irish Open Championship.

Pat Ruddy provided the following update at the start of 2017: "Upgrade work has been carried out on the Glashedy course, where a bid to host the Irish Open is in the offing. New additions include championship tees (adding 40 yards and slightly angled lines) on the 2nd and 9th holes and new fairway bunkers on the left of the 1st and 3rd."

On the final Sunday of the 2017 Irish Open at Portstewart Golf Club it was announced that Ballyliffin's Glashedy course would stage the 2018 Irish Open, which Scotland's Russell Knox won after beating New Zealand's Ryan Fox in a play-off.

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Reviews for Ballyliffin (Glashedy)

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Description: Ballyliffin Golf Club is often described as “the Ballybunion of the North” or “the Dornoch of Ireland” and the reason is simple; all the aforementioned are set amidst towering natural sand dunes. Rating: 8.7 out of 10 Reviews: 39
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Jeff Kimbro
Played the Glashedy Course at Ballyliffin in the spring with my father and truly enjoyed the experience. The clubhouse was more modern and had a staff that was very cordial and friendly. We played the course on a very nice late morning with not a lot of wind. This is not a course that allows for errant drives. The fairways are very tight and extremely fast. I/We hit a couple of Drivers early and realized that this is not the way to play the course. Low hooded 3 irons are more than enough off the tees and keep a lot of trouble out of play. It has a number of nice elevation changes in the middle of the round that provide some excellent views. Be wary of golfers that are on the other course. Thereare some holes where the two courses play side by side (especially holes 7-10) and some errant shots can cause some damage. The course was in excellent condition, having just hosted a senior tournament. We truly enjoyed playing Ballyliffin (Glashedy).
January 23, 2010
8 / 10
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Neill Finlay
Totaly awsome golf course with spectacular views. I Last played the new course on the 16th of october in splended sunshine the greens were fast with an superb playing surface to have a golf course this good at this time of year is a true credit to andy and his staff (not to forget milly)and to finish of the day having a superb meal in one of the finest club houses i have had the pleasure of visiting.Dont miss the chance to play a real golf course.
November 02, 2009
10 / 10
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mike
Played the Glashedy mid oct, the weather was very kind and the course was exceptional.All staff to be applauded for their efforts both on and off the course , memorable experience. Not to forget the top fescue turf!
October 28, 2009
10 / 10
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lodgeboy
What a joy the whole Ballyliffin experience was. Both courses are fabulous and very well presented. Wonderful greens. Great club house, excellent food, friendly staff. It was all such a contrast to Rosapenna and shows just how it can and should be done.
July 06, 2009
10 / 10
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David Smith
The whole Ballyliffin experience is superb, from the remote position of the majestic clubhouse and its excellent facilities positioned amongst a rare strectch of dunes to the excellent courses. We played during 'Open week' and had the strong winds the pro's were moaning about at Birkdale and thoroughly enjoyed it. Glashedy is a fantastic test of golf and if we were to return on a golf tour we would spend a couple of days here and play each course twice. Ineresting the Seniors had their open here this year on the old course 'nuff said'!
August 04, 2008
10 / 10
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Peter Teague
I have played this course twice now and I have to say it is up there with my favourites. The last time I played the scene was exhilarating. It was early morning, our four ball had the course to ourselves, the sun was shining and the the wind was blowing across the huge expanse of dunes. It was just how I imagined links golf should be, almost surreal.The course itself is excellent and for a new links design it is very fair played of the visitors tees. After playing the course twice I honestly feel there are no week holes and for me one of the stand out holes is the par 5 13th with its alley like fairway and well protected elevated green. This course is a real gem and a must play for anyone visiting Noth West Ireland and Donegal. Oh and the food and drink in the fantastic clubhouse are great.
January 03, 2008
10 / 10
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simon freeman
I`ve already rated the place in general in my review of the old course, so what to say about this course? Its long- don`t try and play off the blacks! Its a modern bashers links of massive proportions, which winds its way to the top of the hill, offering dramatic views and excellent individual challenges, before dropping off dramatically back onto lower ground. Some great holes, but for me it doesn`t have the same subtelty as the Old course. Brilliant though- god i wish I was a local member! If the greenkeepers job ever comes up I`m going to camp outside their door til they give me it. Unfortunately I can`t see the mad Scotsman and his Jack Russell leaving though, what with him having a local wife and doing such a good job and all!
August 18, 2007
8 / 10
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W
The Glashedy course is majestic. Tough but fair, good greens, lovely scenery, it’s exactly what a golf course should be – go and play it!My favourite hole is 13 (see photo 1 above) – an uphill par 5 framed (like so many of the holes) between sand dunes. I don’t agree that the 7th is the weakest hole – we played it off the back which made it 180+ yards long and there is water immediately to the right of the green. The hole didn’t feel so weak as I stood over my rescue club on the tee!
July 04, 2007
8 / 10
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ryan
One of the top 3 courses in Ireland without a shadow of a doubt. The par 3 7th was spectacular and although it didn't fit in well with the course the views were outstanding, probably the best par 3 in Ireland. The par 5 13th was also equally amazing and the sand dunes carved out a spectacular hole looking down at the Glashedy rock. The course is well worth a visit and it is a bargain to play especially looking at the quality of it.
May 28, 2007
10 / 10
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TED HOYNE
One of the most enjoyable courses I have played. In great condition, well designed, very true greens in top shape (09.10.06). Well worth the green fee. I will definitely be back again. Don't forget to play the Old Course also, well worth it also.
October 11, 2006
8 / 10
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