Connemara is located on the rugged, tranquil and unspoilt Atlantic coastline at Ballyconneely, situated on a peninsula, jutting into the Atlantic between Clifden to the north and Roundstone to the south. Ballyconneely is also renowned for its breeding of the world famous Connemara Pony. According to folklore, the breed originated as the result of a Spanish shipwreck. A number of Arab horses swam ashore and ended up breeding with the wild local ponies.
Founded in 1973, and designed by the prolific Irish architect, Eddie Hackett. Connemara is one of the toughest links courses in the world, measuring more than 7,200 yards from the back tees. The course is littered with stern and craggy rocks, further adding to the rough and ready nature of the links. Avoid these rocks at all costs, otherwise you will find yourself playing from some unusual positions. Connemara has 27 holes, the A and B nines comprise the Championship course. The C nine is shorter in length.
The wind is a significant factor at Connemara. There are no sand dunes to provide protection from the elements. In fact, the ground is fairly flat. The upside of this is that there are uninterrupted, spectacular, panoramic views of the coastline with its glorious white sandy beaches and to the north east, the austere Twelve Bens mountain range provide a dramatic backdrop. The outward nine is much shorter and flatter than the inward half. But the back nine possesses the best and most memorable holes. Brace yourself for the challenging 210-yard par three 13th, with its raised green. It’s regarded as Connemara’s signature hole and this is where the lunar landscape kicks in and stays with us for the closing holes.
Connemara is a remote golf course, but everyone here is exceptionally welcoming. The last six holes will remain etched in the mind for a very long time, and if you are brave enough to tackle this brutal course from the back tees – good luck. Pray that the wind machine is turned off.
July 10, 2006