The small town of Dunfanaghy sits on the western shores of Sheephaven Bay in northern County Donegal and the golf course is set on a narrow strip of land between Dunfanaghy and Portnablagh, where six-time Open champion Harry Vardon is said to have laid out the fairways for club members.
The golf club was founded in 1906 and affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland in 1920. According to Dunfanaghy’s centenary book, British soldiers stationed in nearby barracks may have played golf in the area as far back as 1740. The book also mentions the existence of a course connected to the Stewart Arms Hotel in 1886.
Vardon returned to Donegal in June of 1910 but the purpose of this visit was to take part in an exhibition match at Rosapenna involving John Ball Jnr, George Duncan and Sandy Herd. It’s thought he may have revisited Dunfanaghy at that time, or maybe even later in 1927 when he re-designed the course at Bundoran.Dunfanaghy appears to be rather flat at first sight but the ground rises and falls gently with plenty of humps and hollows to contend with and ditches that cross a few fairways also have to be negotiated. The holes in the rocky outcrop section between the 6th and 10th are the most pleasing, with the short coastal par three 9th hole on the eastern extremity on the property well worth its tag of “signature hole”.