Donegal - Donegal - Ireland

Donegal Golf Club,
Murvagh,
Co. Donegal,
Ireland


  • +353 (0) 74 9734054

  • Golf Club Website

  • N15, off Donegal/Ballyshannon Road

  • Reservations online via Donegal website


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Donegal

The Murvagh peninsula jutting out into Donegal Bay is the home of Donegal Golf Club. It’s an enchanting and isolated setting for a big links course. The panoramic view across the bay is sensational, with the Bluestack Mountains providing a dramatic backdrop.

The prolific architect, Eddie Hackett, laid out the course in 1973 and Murvagh is considered to be one of his finest creations. Hackett was given a naturally rugged and crumpled piece of links land to play with and he used it well to produce a monster championship-length layout. Thanks to Pat Ruddy, Donegal now measures a mighty 7,200 yards from the back tees and we recommend that they be left well alone for the pros or for the very low single figure handicappers.

Donegal’s layout is configured in two elongated loops of nine holes. The front nine runs anticlockwise and the back nine runs clockwise, sitting inside the outward nine. The first four holes are fairly ordinary, feeling inland in character, and then at the 185-yard par three 5th, we enter dune country. This one shot hole, called “Valley of Tears”, is a brute. A semi-blind tee shot to a narrow plateau green, we must make sure that we select the right club to traverse the valley and the bunkers in front of and below the raised green. The next three holes are stunning where the fairways rollercoaster up and down, flanked by huge shaggy sand dunes. At the turn, we are faced with a thrilling back nine, including the 12th, a monster par five, and the sadistic par three 16th, measuring nigh on 250 yards from the back tees.

There is no doubt that Donegal at Murvagh is a very challenging links course and it should be up at the top of the must-play list for any serious golfer.

Around 1992, Pat Ruddy was commissioned to update the original Eddie Hackett-designed layout here at Donegal Golf Club and the work spanned a number of years. Pat has kindly provided the following update for us:

"Hole 1… a totally new green running across the inward shot rather than with it. This to lay a premium on the club chosen coming in (good to do at a par-5)... and then I sculpted a front bunker into a dip at mid-point with pin levels left and right sweeping down into it.

Hole 2… new fairway bunkers at left pinch the tee-shot a little and bring the natural out-of-bounds on the right into play for those seeking to get closer to the green. The green itself is totally new… raised by 2-feet or so at the front and 5-feet or so at the back thus allowing for deep bunkering front and sides. The green is angled right to left to reward those who take-on the boundary off the tee.

Hole 4… totally new tees, fairway with bunkers and a new green running left to right with bunkering at front right. All arranged to give strong golf images off the tee, the old set up was a wee bit blind, and it is a vastly improved hole.

Hole 5… new tees to add length and offer differing angles on a classical par-3 to a shelf green.

Hole 9… a totally new green (the first job I did there) and fairway bunkering. The green was moved back and to the right to tease the tee-shot and allow bunkering to impinge on the approach.

Hole 10… new championship tees.

Hole 12… a new green with stronger bunkering; newly conformed fairway with strong bunkering for the tee-shot; and the approach to the green rumpled and bunkered.

Hole 13… another brand new green slightly raised to provide for run-off chip areas and for deeper bunkers.

Hole 14… bunkering for the tee shot and fairway elevation changes to slow the drive, a lovely (if I say so myself) meandering stream brought into play in horse-shoe shape in front of the green (inviting golfers to gamble into the horseshoe if they really think that one club less for the third is all-important at this par-5 and a totally new green raised, tiered and bunkered.

Hole 16… bunkered the green at this par-3.

Hole 18… cut a V-valley through the hill to remove blindness off the tee; shaped and bunkered the fairway; and provided a lovely gallery green with very nice bunkering just under the clubhouse windows.

That makes 11 holes heavily revised, refurbished and modernised. It is a remarkably different and better links than before but the analysts seem slow to realise what has happened as the club is not of the boastful type and hasn't broadcast the good news as others might. It was already one of Ireland’s finest but now I feel it is into a brave new place and I fancy that Eddie Hackett would be pleased enough with his co-designer!"

At the start of 2017, Pat Ruddy sent this:

At Donegal, the 17th has been modified and revisions made to the par three 16th, which was a very difficult hole for club players with a minimum measurement of 203 metres. The championship tee remains intact but new member tees have been constructed forward and to the right (to give a lovely new angle) at 160, 165 and 170 metres, with a new greenside bunker on the left balancing the removal of force with a little intrigue and skill.

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Reviews for Donegal

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Description: The Murvagh peninsula jutting out into Donegal Bay is the home of Donegal Golf Club. It’s an enchanting and isolated setting for a big links course. Rating: 7.2 out of 10 Reviews: 28
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Alex Westenfield
Our group from Iowa played here in mid-August with a match with some of the members. Very friendly membership and beautifully designed golf course. Very underrated in my opinion and would definitely play again.
August 25, 2014
8 / 10
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Jim McCann

Looking back at my review from six years ago when I last played here, I missed a couple of important factors: firstly, the fairways are generally wide and forgiving so golfers can afford to spray the ball around a little bit without being too harshly punished and secondly, the 18 holes occupy a generous 240-acre site so, in many regards, Donegal Golf Course - Photo by reviewerthe long length of most of the fairways – and the fact that there are five par fives – merely reflects the scale of the property.

On the front nine, I thought “Valley of Tears,” the par three 5th, was way better than I’d remembered it from before (loosely reminding me of the famous “Calamity” hole on the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush) whilst, on the back nine,

I’m a big fan of “Bogey Hill,” the 18th hole – even if the raised green and shaggy mounding at the back are a tad on the contrived side!

At the most northerly point on the course, a bank of old vegetation on the dune ridge next to the elevated 6th tee box has been removed and this now affords fantastic views across the sand flats and oyster farms out on Donegal Bay – I’d recommend that you stop for a wee breather at this point to soak up the scenery, especially if you’re still dabbing your eyes after posting a poor score at the preceding hole!

Murvagh’s great value for money (as are ALL the courses in this corner of the Emerald Isle) and well worth adding to your "must play" list.

Jim McCann

April 18, 2013
8 / 10
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Sean Martin

Excellent course with alot of great challenges for all golfers,well worth a trip!!

November 14, 2011
8 / 10
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john ashton
Played this course in fine weather during June 2011. We were all members of Scottish links courses and the consensus was that Murvagh was right up there with the best. A true links does not ( and often not ) have to mean heavy dune systems and some of the most difficult tests of links golf seem to be on the undulating and subtle holes. Suffice to say that everyone, from low to high handicap, thought the same - a belter. Course condition, clubhouse and staff were excellent and at a very fair price. To be recommended and repeated.
October 26, 2011
10 / 10
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Seamus

Excellent. Played course on 1st July and thought wow. Only realised today that captains day was yesterday so obviously course was in top quality. Best course I have played in north west but on same level as Ballybunion or my favourite the European Club. So many stand out holes (2nd, 5th, 7th, 8th) on front nine and the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th stand out on back nine ensuring a strong finish if you want to be brave and attack the flags (it didnt work out for me). Should say I played of the orange tees (white and blue teeing areas closed) and it was a monster tough course which had me shooting 29points of a 8 handicap. Pretty poor i know but it is that tough a course

July 04, 2011
8 / 10
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Seamus

Played this course three times this week and I thought it was excellent. I am a relative newcomer to links golf and I have only played Corballis Links, Royal Dublin and Portmarnock Hotel and Links but this was by far the most impressive of the three. My personal favourite was the 8th hole the name of which escapes me at the moment but it is a hole that will live long in my memory. There was a deep contrast in the weather this week, with Monday being relatively calm and Tuesday and Thursday being very, very blustery. The only issue I had was a minor one and it related to simple course etiquette. We were playing in a twosome, a 4 and 7 handicapper and we got stuck behind a group of average players. No offer was made to allow us play through but like I have said it was a minor one and it added no more than an hour onto our game. Overall the best links course I have played and right up there with some of the finest course I have played.

April 24, 2011
8 / 10
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Andy
As others have stated, Donegal does not have the visual drama as others along the west coast; Carne, Enniscrone, Sandy Hills and Ballyliffin but this is still a fine links course. It is a pleasure to play and some may say a welcome break from the big roll-a-coaster dunes elsewhere. My favourite hole is the par-3 5th called 'Valley of Tears' - just don't be short and right! The more links courses I play, the more I see two big distinctions .... fairly flat courses like this, Royal Troon and maybe a Muirfield and then the big dramatic courses like the ones mentioned earlier plus Ballybunion, Birkdale, Tralee etc. - It is easy to understand why the flatter links courses get 'lesser' reviews from handicap golfers but when you look at the hole designs, the bunker positioning and the subtle breaks on the greens the only reason for these reviews will be that the outlook is not so 'pleasing on the eye' - probably a little unfair but as I say, understandable. A familiar warm Irish welcome awaits here at Murvagh.
August 11, 2010
6 / 10
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gerard mahood
Good course.Played at the end of May, fairways and greens in good condition ,good views from many of the greens and tees.Well worth a visit if your in that area , Gerry
May 31, 2009
8 / 10
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Ivan
Played in a strong wind in Feb the day after playing Enniscone has not helped the mark. It is a fine links worth a visit but there are better courses around. The day we played the fairways were being rested and you had to paly of a mat. This did not assist the experience.
February 26, 2008
4 / 10
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Peter Teague
After reading the other reviews of this great course I feel a little bit surprised. In my opinion this is a great links course and a really tough challenge for any level of golfer. I have played many links cousres in the North West of Ireland and Donegal is up there with the best. For people to give this course an average rating is a bit of an insult and they must be used to be playing some very fine golf courses ones that I haven't found yet! If you play Donegal to your handicap you will have done brilliant.
January 03, 2008
10 / 10
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