Lahinch (Old) - Clare - Ireland

Lahinch Golf Club,
Lahinch,
County Clare,
Ireland


  • +353 (0) 65 7081003


Lahinch is derived from the old Irish name Leithinsi, a half island. The village dates back to the 18th century and grew in popularity thanks to George I, who believed that eating periwinkles and sea-grass was healthy.

Golf at Lahinch dates back to 1892. Three local Limerick golfers laid out an 18-hole course, assisted by officers of the Scottish “Black Watch” regiment who were stationed in Limerick at that time. In 1894, Old Tom Morris was commissioned to make improvements to the layout and he made excellent use of the natural terrain, especially the giant sand dunes. Old Tom believed that Lahinch was the finest natural course that he had seen.

In the mid 1890s, the West Clare Railway made the town more accessible and consequently, people flocked to Lahinch to stay at the new Golf Links Hotel. The whole town lives and breathes golf. Bernard Darwin wrote the following in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, published in 1910: “The greatest compliment I have heard paid to Lahinch came from a very fine amateur golfer, who told me that it might not be the best golf in the world, but was the golf he liked to play best. Lest this may be attributed to patriotic prejudice, I may add that he was an Englishman born and bred.”

In 1927, Dr Alister MacKenzie redesigned the course, relocating a number of holes closer to the bay. The redesign work took one year to complete and featured undulating triple tiered greens. MacKenzie was pleased with his work and said: “It will make the finest and most popular course that I, or I believe anyone else, ever constructed”.

Unfortunately, in 1935, the same time that MacKenzie was designing Augusta with Bobby Jones, the Lahinch committee decided that his greens were too tough for the average golfer. John Burke was granted the remit to flatten them out. Happily, in 1999, Martin Hawtree knowledgably reinstated MacKenzie’s characteristics, completing Lahinch’s restoration.

Lahinch is an enchanting place to play golf. It’s rugged, distinctive, unusually varied and immensely entertaining. This traditional out and back layout is situated next to the lovely beach of Liscannor Bay.

During the last week of July, Lahinch hosts the South of Ireland Championship, an annual occurrence since 1895. The “South” is a matchplay competition, which attracts many spectators and some great amateur golfers, although it is unlikely that anybody will beat John Burke’s record. The “King of Lahinch” was the South of Ireland champion 11 times between 1928 and 1946.

Views across the bay from the 3rd are uplifting. This 446-yard par four, has a blind drive to a hidden fairway and the approach to the green is obscured by a hill on the right. The 4th is a short par five named Klondyke. It's one of the most unusual holes in golf and an Old Tom speciality. The tee shot needs to find a narrow rippled fairway located in a valley between dunes. A blind second shot then has to negotiate Klondyke, a towering sand dune that straddles the fairway some 200 yards away from the green. It's certainly a quirky hole but it's also very memorable.

What's the best way to follow such an eccentric hole? Why, another highly peculiar one, naturally! Left untouched since Old Tom Morris first fashioned it over a century ago, Dell is the renowned blind par three 5th, its green nestling between towering sand hills that surround the narrow green on all sides. A stone on top of one of the dunes indicates the hole location from the tee so golfers are advised to factor in the wind direction, pick the right club for the yardage then take aim for the hidden flag.

The Old course at Lahinch is a gem, but take note of where the goats are. If they are sheltering near the clubhouse—take your umbrella—you are in for a wet round.

Lahinch Golf Club staged the Irish Open for the first time in 2019. The event was a treat for the pros, especially Spain's Jon Rahm who won the title by two shots. Englishman Robert Rock grabbed the headlines on Saturday after carding a record-breaking 60. Rock birdied the last six holes during round three and had a 35-foot putt for eagle on the last for a 59 but missed by inches.

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Reviews for Lahinch (Old)

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Description: Lahinch Golf Club is situated next to the lovely beach of Liscannor Bay. It's an enchanting place to play golf... rugged, distinctive, unusually varied and immensely entertaining. Rating: 9 out of 10 Reviews: 53
TaylorMade
W
Played the course last week (23 May). The greens were in very poor condition - there are clearly problems with the 12th green. We should not really have been charged the full green fee. The course itself (as described so well below) is old fashioned with plenty of blind shots. Not entirely to my taste, but it will certainly keep you thinking...but not enough to forgive the very poor putting surfaces :(
May 27, 2012
6 / 10
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john
November 03, 2012
Played the old course over the june bank holiday weekend and the greens were in super condition apart from the 12th which i was told was a new green. Great course, well deserving of its rating
beau kazzi
When an expert speaks, people listen… even closer when two talk. After designing Lahinch, the era's master Architect, Old Tom Morris, boldly declared, "I consider the links as fine a natural course as it's ever been my good fortune to play over." This adoration – which introduced Lahinch, gave it worldwide recognition, and has defined it since – wasn't alone. After renovations in 1927 another architectural expert, Dr. Alistair MacKenzie, lauded it: "Lahinch will make the finest, most popular course that I or anyone ever constructed," echoing his predecessor. In 1892 Limerick's Black Watch Regiment discovered enormous sand hills, massive dunes, envious topsy-turvy, Atlantic Oceanside linksland along Ireland's West coast that became Lahinch Golf Club.

Quintessentially, epitomizing links golf, this setting – breathtaking and so enchanting it seems fairytale-like – is however, double-edged: Helplessly exposed, it's defenceless against the often typical brutal conditions. Lahinch is a shot-maker's haven: Creativity and innovation offset awkward stances/side-hill lies; Discipline, patience, and perseverance combat heather, gorse, relentless wind, and inevitable bad bounces/breaks. With intimidating, "hold-your-breath" tee shots (3, 7), ingenious bunker placement (labelled MacKenzie's best), and several blind shots (some world-renowned), Lahinch's options force golfer to think/strategize. Futile and often disastrous, the "Grip it and rip it" philosophy isn't recommended.

Blessed with natural, distinct, and tremendously varying green sites: steep fall-offs (1), along ridges (9), against stone-wall boundaries (18), atop chasms (3) and plateaus (10, 15), maddeningly three-tiered (13), and impossibly nestled between two giant protruding dunes (14), Ireland's annual South Amateur site presents a challenging environment.

Nevertheless, it was modernized/toughened in 2001 by Martin Hawtree, resulting in a "restored MacKenzie course." Lahinch's driveable par 4 (13), reachable par 5's (2,4, 12), and shoreline-hugging, seaside holes (2, 3, 6, 8) make for "fun, exciting" Golf. Dog-legging left and right, holes climb uphill and tumble downhill, over ravines and hillocks, through valleys and hollows, around knolls and hummocks-enhancing this fun and creating a magical Golf excursion. With shots somewhat extinct nowadays... i.e. over Klondyke (4th) – the huge dune interrupting approach shots. The Dell (5th) – a baffling, one-of-a-kind, retro, blind par 3, the 7th drive (over previous green), and the aforementioned 14, Lahinch is a trip back in time, a link to the past, a glimpse of bygone days. Is there a bell golfers ring? No, better – a human, greeting and ensuring golfer's safety while directing "traffic" at the criss-crossing intersection on 5 and 18! (Pinching oneself remedies the "Wake me I must be dreaming" prevalent feeling).

The minimal proximity between clubhouse and first tee means a "most scrutinized swing" and "opening tee shot." Further, engaging quirks include a shared fairway (14 and 15), visible castle-ruins, a hole using two separate greens (11), and goats (Club's logo) acting as barometers (roaming course in good weather, seeking shelter when bad is coming. It’s this oddity that fascinates, educationally mesmerizes us, and puts Lahinch in its own class.

So much more than just a game – here Golf is a way of life! (Sundays the course doubles as a dog park for locals). Eye opening, this interconnectedness is irresistibly enamouring. For students of the game the experience is peerless. Like visiting an old well-kept museum/shrine it thrills while seducing, and tingles the spine while changing the golfer's life. There's only one Lahinch and this timeless design oozing character, while simultaneously disparaging today’s length factor, continues to captivate golfer after golfer. The experts were right. Beau Kazzi
July 17, 2010
10 / 10
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Jeff Kimbro
Played Lahinch with a group of 8 in 2007 and believe that it is one of the most interesting layouts you will ever play. It basically sits in the middle of town heading North and then back again. On the first few holes, town pedestrians are walking on sidewalks just to the right of the fairway (in some cases just a few yards from where you are playing shots). Loved the 2nd par 5 on the front, where you hit Driver up the hill (with a slight fade) and then a blind approach over the 30 foot hill in the middle of the fairway to the green. Quirky but interesting. The next hole, a par 3, is also a blind shot with the same hill coming into play. We heard stories that kids would sit behind the hill and anything that came close to the hole would be placed into the hole for a "hole in 1". I/We really felt that the course was magical and that the service was second to none.
January 23, 2010
10 / 10
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stephen voce
Played it in the inevitable gale with two old friends from the R.A.F. We all loved it but were not so keen on the number of Americans around the place!Very difficult but rewarding and the greens were sublime if tricky.My chums were allowed to take their Labradors on who also seemed to enjoy it!!Hospitality was fantastic we drank Bushmills into the early hours then collapsed extremely happy with the days events!!
October 12, 2009
8 / 10
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joe
May 17, 2011
If it were not for Americans, the course would now be run by Germans...or have you forgotten?
Paddy
June 21, 2012
Joe - is that honestly what they teach you over there....? I suppose you also believe that Americans built the Pyramids, Colliseum and Great Wall of China!
David Redwood
Everything a great links course should be. Stunning views, blind shots, rollercoaster greens make this one of the best I have played. Comparable to Cruden Bay in it's quirkiness, maybe too much to be compared with the very best but an absolute joy to play even if the price is a bit steep when compared to UK prices.
August 09, 2009
10 / 10
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Cedric
August 11, 2009
Comparable to Cruden Bay??? No way... What is so quirky about Lahinch (apart from Dell and Klondyke)? For me, there is a full class between those 2...
Jeff Brown
Played in early July on a wonderful sunny day. Lots of reviews call this course "fun" and I am not sure that it does this course justice - behind RCD, Lahinch is #2 for me (ahead of Ballybunion, Old Course, Pebble Beach, and many others ranked ahead of it). The feel of the place is ideal to me - the right mix of old school golf with a touch of being laid back (RCD was a bit stuffy to me, but the course overcame that). The course had a great mix of holes from the daunting links type hole of RCD, to the blind, old school funky holes (4 and 5) and open let it rip (18). If I could pick one course I have played to be a member, Lahinch is it for me.
July 28, 2009
10 / 10
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grantphelps
You must play Lahinch if you get the chance. It is about the most fun you can have on a golf course anywhere. It's the course i'd play in golf heaven, as it is outrageously beautiful, fabulously maintained, and a riot to play. it rightly deserves its place amongst the very best golf courses in the world.
July 05, 2009
10 / 10
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Alex Westenfield
Played in Sept. 2008. One of the favorites of our American club golfers group of SW of Ireland. Challenging, traditional links play with some incredible challenging holes and sweeping, hilly and rolling terrain. Very nice welcome and clubhouse. Particularly memorable were #3-6 and #11-13.
December 05, 2008
8 / 10
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James
Someone below said it best. Lahinch is a fun course to play. There are holes here you will just not find anywhere else in the world, and for that reason alone I would recommend it. Try and do your scoring on the par fives (easier said than done) because the fours and threes will eat you up if you're slightly off your game. Of particular note are the 3rd, 6th and 7th when the course takes you on a roller coaster ride up and over those big dunes. We played twice last weekend and the condition of the course was superb and the greens were as good as any I've ever seen on a links. If I had to think of one minor criticism, and one reason perhaps not to rank it up there with the very best, it's that the par 4 13th seems to have been squeezed into the layout somewhat. There seemed to be room to extend the tee quite some way further back and at 279 yards it's just too short a hole to really challenge the good player.
July 06, 2008
8 / 10
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Ally McIntosh
September 11, 2008
Whilst I agree with the majority of your review, I find it strange that you did not like the 13th which I think is a gem of a short par-4 and one of the only relatively untouched holes from MacKenzie's routing.
Patrick
June 07, 2010
Have to agree, the 13th is the best short par 4 I've ever played. A narrow entrance to a 3 tiered green with a big roll off on the front. Go a smidgen right and you are dead. Left and you're in some deep bunkers. You'll see an awful lot more 5's than 2's here in top competitions.
Jim McCann

The pro shop at Lahinch displays the title “professional and golf club maker” – and, sure enough, when you go inside, you find an old workshop with a golf club in a vice on the workbench right next door to the counter… all part of the golfing empire of Robert McCavery, Lahinch (Old) - Photo by Jim McCann50 years a professional/assistant pro with the club in 2009, though he’s still 10 years shy of the service attributed to Bill McCavery from 1927 to 1987!

I digress somewhat from a review of the Old Course, but it gives you an immediate flavour of the atmosphere as you stand by the 1st tee – you’re about to embark on a round of old-fashioned golf, the likes of which is still played by people steeped in the traditions of the game.

Martin Hawtree is said to have made nearly 100 visits over the five year period that renovation work was carried out here from 1999 and I can pay no higher compliment to that commitment than to say that you would not know anything had been done!

Changing 14 greens, rebuilding 16 tees, adding 2 new par threes and rerouting 4 holes – surely not? The course looks as if it has been in its present form for the 100+ years that golf has been played at Lahinch, such is the quality of the restoration work.

You might read, in advance of playing here, about the quirky “Klondyke” and “Dell” holes, the nearby Liscannor Bridge and ancient O’Brien Castle, the goats on the hillside, the blind shots, the tumbling terrain and the magnificent views of Liscannor Bay – no amount of homework will adequately prepare you for the thrilling golf that you will encounter at Lahinch, believe me.

Jim McCann

May 06, 2008
10 / 10
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Greg Kingston
April 05, 2009
Jim,We (2) are going to Ireland to play 13 of the links courses in June and July this year (from Australia). I find your well written, informative, honest and positive reviews on all the courses that you have played most valuable. Thanks
Jim McCann
April 05, 2009
Greg, thanks for the response, it's much appreciated. Good reviews are not guaranteed on this website, they have to be earned, and Lahinch achieves that with ease. Please take time to post a review, no matter how brief, on all the courses you play in the summer. I hope the weather is kind for you and that you've spaced out your 13 games over a sensible time span - unlike last year when our threesome played 13 rounds in SEVEN days!!! Good luck.