Enniscrone Golf Club started out in life in 1918 as a modest nine-hole course. But it was the prolific Irish architect, Eddie Hackett, who put Enniscrone on the map, when, in 1974, he extended the layout to 18 holes. Donald Steel then extended the configuration to 27 holes by using new land and adjoining dunes. He also changed the original flat opening holes, which were out of keeping with the rest.
The main course now plots its way through the gigantic sandhills and across the folded rippled links land. Now, with 27 holes, there are a number of playing options but it seems fitting that the main course is now called Dunes (the third nine is called Scurmore).
The location is ravishing; Enniscrone is set on a promontory, which juts out into Killala Bay at the mouth of the Moy Estuary. Scurmore, one of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches, borders the links, while the moody Ox Mountains provide a rugged backdrop to the east and the Nephin Beg Range dominates the westerly skyline.
The course itself complements its surroundings. The fairways pitch and roll between towering shaggy dunes. Greens are raised on plateaux and protected by deep valleys and ravines, whilst others nestle at the feet of high dunes. There are elevated tee shots and panoramic ocean views. Enniscrone really is a breathtaking golf course with a serious challenge attached.
Stretching out to more than 7,000 yards from the tips, it calls for some solid driving. There is nothing unnatural about Enniscrone; it’s in tune with its surroundings, where there is this ever-present sense of space and freedom.
You must expect a bit of wind here, and that will naturally bring another dimension to the challenge. If you are feeling weary and windswept after your round, why not visit Kilcullen's Seaweed Baths in Enniscrone village? Guaranteed to provide relief from the rigours of the round. Or try and unravel the giant and rampageous Enniscrone black pig myth. But whatever you do, take the time to play this course before it gets too well known and becomes the Ballybunion of the Western Seaboard.
Enniscrone Golf Club was voted 2008 Golf Course of the Year at the Irish Golf Tour Operators Association Awards Ceremony. Enniscrone wins 2008 IGTOA Golf Course of the Year
I first played Enniscrone 4 years ago and it was a case of love at first sight. I returned recently to renew my romance with this course, I still love it!
There is no gentle introduction, like say Ballybunion. From the opening approach shot the course takes you into the behemoth dunes and there you stay until completing the rollercoaster par 5 4th hole. From the 5th to the 10th, the course escapes the mountainous dunes into flatter terrain and though some say these holes are weaker than 1-4 and 11-18 they are not weak holes per se. They just pale into comparison with what is arguably the finest, most exciting back nine in Ireland (although Tralee and Ballybunion may contest this).
The uphill par three 11th starts the breathtaking rollercoaster towards home, followed by the superb right to left dog-leg 12th requiring an accurate tee shot and pinpoint approach to the green with a significant drop-off at the front, and enormous dunes left of and behind the green. Last time I played the short par 4 downhill 13th I went for the green, hit it well and never saw the ball again. This time a 5 iron and wedge delivered a birdie. But it is so tempting to hit driver from such an elevated tee! The 16th is an outstanding par 5, dog legging left then right to a slightly raised green between two dunes. It is not that long but you have to carefully keep it alive if you want to pinch a birdie. The sea envelopes the hole to the left, the large dunes frame the right side all the way to the green.
I have a real soft spot for Enniscrone, possibly more than any Irish course I've visited and I've been fortunate to play the top 20 on this list. I'm not sure why this should be, it just feels like a very special, spiritual almost, challenging but above all fun course to play. One last thing - dotted around the course are benches with humourous and inspirational quotes - a really nice touch befitting such a glorious golf course.
The biggest dunes in Ireland (Carne might be equal) are found at Enniscrone. From the opening hole to the finish you will climb and dip, twist and turn. The one constant will be the wind will not let up the entire round as Enniscrone has multiple holes exposed to the sea. Do not attempt to play Enniscrone on the back end of a 36 hole day, or towards the end of a golf trip, your legs will not hold up. However, if anywhere near Enniscrone, it's a must play.
Enniscrone starts strong and finishes strong. But in the middle I felt like I made a wrong turn and ended up on the Scurmore Course. It's a very nice course and worthy of your visit.
Enniscrone is a truly wonderful place to play golf. It's not as well known as many of its peers, but it's as enjoyable and potentially more memorable based on the wildness of the dunes and how it majestically meanders its way through them. Enniscrone, has a number of holes where I think I could say this might be the best hole I've ever played and it also has a couple of stretches of holes where I could say this is the best 3/4 holes in a row I've played, such as 2-6, or 9-11 or 14-18.
A few things I love about Enniscrone are:
1. As I mentioned above, the wildness of the dunes. Some of these dunes feel like Mount Everest when standing at the bottom of them, and even on days with strong wind, the Dunes can actually protect you from it.
2. The course is surrounded by water on 3 sides, with a mix between the ocean and an estuary.
3. The course winds across the land a little which means you play holes in every direction, rather than the classic straight out and back.
4. It has a great mix of wild dunes holes around the outside of the property that faces the ocean, and some awesome flatter holes in the middle and estuary side of the property. Having this mix of holes really gives you a full appreciation of links golf on one course.
5. It is a brute of a course that can and will beat you up, offline shots into the dunes will be punished, but it does reward great golf shots and gives incredible vistas of the holes. So, when I have always finished my rounds at Enniscrone you have this strange feeling of being abused by the course, but also remembering some awesome shots and birdies you made and some incredibly memorable shots and vistas you had.
6. There is a beautiful mix of dog legs left and right, both severe and gentle, which forces you to use all the clubs and shots in your bag.
Only things I don't love about Enniscrone are:
1. Im not a huge fan of 12 and 13. I generally love short and quirky par 4s, but to me, these two holes feel a bit contrived and squished into the corner of the property. I don't think these holes are bad, (I actually think they both have fantastic greens) but to me, they don't really fit into the flow of the course.
My favourite holes at Enniscrone are: 2, 5, 14, 15
2. After a handshake opener around the clubhouse, 2 instantly shows you the wildness that you will be dealing with today. You tee off amongst big dunes, with huge dunes left, right and at the end of the fairway. A perfectly placed tee shot will leave you with a view of the green through a small gap in the dunes, but most people will play their second shot blind of dunes either laying up or going for the green in two. Once you get through the dunes that split the fairway you play uphill into a beautiful green that is perched up a little bit with a beautiful view of the atlantic ocean behind it.
5. Is one of the inland flat holes that feels a lot more English or Scottish in style then Irish. Playing from an elevated tee box, you have a burn down the right, dunes and pot bunkers down the left, and a small dune in the middle right of the fairway. There are two ways to play this hole, take out your driver and challenge the left side of the fairway to get a short and open look at the green, or play "safe" off the tee down the right which will leave you a longer and blind shot into a green with pot bunkers on the left and runoffs on all sides.
14. Is a long par 5 (that usually plays downwind), that is so memorable. You tee off from an elevated tee box, down into the fairway which is guarded on the left by possibly the biggest dune I have ever seen. If you hit it left, just forget about your ball unless you have experience in mountain search and rescue missions. You can bail out right on the drive and have a good bit of room, but if you hit a good drive down the left, your ball can run for miles and potentially give you a chance to go for the green in two. From the fairway, the hole doglegs uphill and to the right to a beautiful green that is almost sitting at a right angle to your approach. An interesting note, is that all the par 5's at Enniscrone are fantastic and hugely memorable, and there is not a single bunker on any of them.
15. The 15th tee at Enniscrone, might be one of my favorite places in golf. The tee boxes sit out past the dunes close to the beach and you feel you are at the end of the earth. You feel isolated out there and all you can see is the regal gentle right to left dogleg par 4 in front of you. If you can hit your tee shot down the rightside of the fairway the green will open up for your second shot, but if you hit it down the left, your second shot will be blind into a green that is raised up but sitting amongst small dunes on all sides. I think this hole will always be my lasting memory of Enniscrone.
More people should go play Enniscrone. It doesn't have the name or history of other Irish courses, but it is just as good if not a little bit more fun and memorable.
My favourite course. 18 class holes surrounded by some of the biggest dunes I’ve ever seen. Too many highlights to mention. Visit Enniscrone and play the links you won’t regret it.
Located right on the Moy estuary in some enormous dunes, Enniscrone is both pretty, and pretty challenging.
After a flat opening tee shot on the opening par 4 first hole, the approach shot is played to a green nestled in a ring of dunes. Thereafter the first four holes traverse some dramatic sand dunes, until suddenly the fifth holes takes you out onto flatter terrain again, but only for a few holes.
Hole 8 is a delightful downhill, downwind par 3- but then the ninth and tenth holes play along the estuary. With the wind off the water, and the dunes along the right side of the fairway it may take all of your concentration to hit the short grass.
Then the par 3 eleventh hole takes you back into the serious dunes. With the inevitable wind off the sea, and a big fall off on the front right of the green, it is a challenging and picturesque hole.
For me the highlight of the round was the back-to-back short blind par fours at twelve and thirteen. If the lovely quiet dunes holes from the fifth to the tenth suited a 'moonlight sonata' soundtrack, then perhaps 12 & 13 would require the 1812 Overture played with gusto!
The dunes are huge and the fairways positively pitch and heave. Twelve goes left and thirteen goes right. Find the short grass off the tee and you will have a very satisfying approach shot. The amazing green on 12 is a slender ledge cut into the front of a large dune and falls away significantly at the front. You need an accurate short iron in.
Thirteen has a roly-poly green which is just a flick in from a fairway hit – it’s a real birdie chance, but you must hit the fairway off the tee. The run home is an adventure in high-octane links golf through some wonderful dunes.
Enniscrone is a joy to play. Don’t miss the opportunity if you are in the area.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I joined Enniscrone years ago as an Overseas Member, and it took a Father & Son trip for me to finally realize what a special place and course Enniscrone is for the golf world. My son pointed out how the "flat holes" in the middle of the round were actually very interesting holes, and added to the course. We were at Ballybunion and Lahinch before the Enniscrone round, and he thought the ebb and flow of Enniscrone was better. The Donald Steel work has really matured nicely on the original Eddie Hackett design. Eddie did not have the budget in the original days, but the combination is now outstanding.
In addition, as an Overseas Member, the local Members welcomed us like lost children on a Friday night dinner during their monthly awards dinner. Great people, great course!
Enniscrone manages to tread the tricky line between quirk and championship golf perfectly. The blend it creates produces a catalogue of unique, enthralling and funky holes.
Holes 2, 3, 4 and 14, 15, 16, (four them par fives) all located on prime duneland, belong to Steel and each is wonderful with just a hint of a modern feel and the hand of man visible but otherwise very natural in appearance. Whereas Steel has gone through the dunes Hackett wasn’t afraid to go over them and this adds a nice spice to the course especially when mixed with a few breather holes during the middle of the round as well.
The stretch of holes (5 to 10) on the inland side of the course do not quite match the thrill of the extravagant dune holes but there is still much to admire with the green complexes at the 6th and especially the 7th are of a very high order. The 8th is a sound par-three too and there is nothing to dislike about the ninth and 10th which both run close Scurmore Beach.
However, the best of Enniscrone can be found among the opening stretch and the closing eight holes. These 12 holes provide brain-scrambling good golf at times, many of which slowly reveal themselves during the passage of playing them.
The way the holes gently unfold means there is a real curiosity to Enniscrone. Green complexes often emerge gradually, initially just giving the golfer a peak of the putting surface before the rest of the contouring is unfurled before our eyes. This gives the golfer a sense of anticipation whilst playing through the twisting and weaving dunescape.
A number of greens are sited within an amphitheatre of sandhills, none better than the first which unlike the other holes exposes its green in the dunes with a bang after you reach the turn in the dogleg fairway.
This enigmatic course is a thrill-seekers paradise. Shotmaking abounds, daring golf is required and the endless recovery shots you are likely to face require skill, ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking. At times your misses can be severe but at the same time lots of fun. As you would expect the downside is that the walk is stern but I have faced much worse.
The par 73 layout can play as long as 7,029 yards from the blue markers but I would advise not trying to beat yourself up from the tee because it’s likely the dramatic green complexes will be more than enough to test your game.
If heading to the West of Ireland then Enniscrone should be close to, if not top, of your list.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
A round at Enniscrone is a great experience, and if you can see the dune holes in the evening as the sun sets it's one of the most beautiful courses I've seen. Coming at the tail end of a tour that includes Ballyliffin, Rosapenna and Strandhill, the dunes at the West end of the course are still jaw dropping and the biggest we've ever seen. The dune holes twist and turn with elevation changes and scary drives in the ever present wind, and there are very challenging par 3's. The team are friendly and helpful, especially Keith in the office who dealt with our Atlantic Links Pass booking (excellent deal with Co Sligo and Strandhill) with great patience whose twin we met at Rosses Point. Sadly the greens are in a bit of a state at the moment which always takes the edge off, and the flat landward holes, whilst better golf than equivalents elsewhere, disrupted the flow. They certainly have lots of weather in this part of the world, thankfully we watched most of the heavy showers miss us to left and right, but definitely pack for all contingencies. Would love to return later in the season when the greens would be recovered, but I'd be scared if the rough got up !
I had booked a mid-morning tee time as a solo golfer, and wondered whether, even in late March, the powers that be might want to put me in with another group. But such thoughts were banished when, on arrival at Enniscrone, I found that mine was the only car in the car park. What followed can only be described as millionaire's golf, the sun shone throughout and I was virtually the only person on the course.
And what a course. Majestic is the word for this place, as one winds one's way through towering dunes, negotiating narrow fairways (it's not always wise to default to driver, here) and attempting to carry deep gullies protecting classic amphitheatre greens.
The tone was set at the first tee, as I tried to work out whether I'd run out of room if I took driver to the dogleg. That was the first of many judgements (and misjudgements) about clubbing. After a half-dozen holes I'd come up short so often I had to ask a passing greenkeeper whether the distance markers were measuring yards or metres. The only consolation was that most of the way round, short looked a lot less damaging than long.
I thought the first four holes were suberb. Five to 11 are merely good to very good. But from 12 to the finish is simply magnificent, with 12 and 15 being my personal highlights. A terrific golf course, in truly dramatic links terrain. Play it.