The seaside village of Mulranny nestles at the foot of The Nephin Mountains, between Clew Bay and Blacksod Bay in County Mayo, and it’s well known in the region for the outstanding quality of the blue flag sandy beaches that run along the coastline at this point.
The village lies on the recently developed Great Western Greenway cycle trail which stretches 42 kilometers along the route of the old railway line between Westport and Achill and this project was afforded a European Destination of Excellence award by the European Commission in 2011.
Mulranny’s little 9-hole golf course has been an integral part of village life for well over a century, since first opening for play in 1896 when the golf club was founded. It’s said that an 18-hole layout once operated here before nine holes were lost to the sea and these days the club struggles to maintain the remaining nine.
Winter storms at the start of 2014 almost wiped the course off the face of the map when a combination of high tide and high winds allowed the merciless ocean to break through the club’s coastal defences, depositing millions of gallons of seawater and hundreds of tons of rocks onto the fairways.
The course has since recovered but it took weeks to pump the water away and remove the many stones and boulders that were dumped onto the course by the unstoppable storm waters.
Those who’ve played at Brora or Glenwild during elk season wouldn’t be surprised at the animals grazing at Mulranny or the fences around each green that keep those animals off the greens. Mulranny’s fences us barbed wire rather than electrification. Mulranny’s greens are massive. The first is over 60 yards deep and four others are at least 50 yards long, so Mulranny uses as much barbed wire as your average Federal prison.
The extra mowing this scale requires is made up for in the narrow fairways….I measured one at 19 yards. The rough is not at all punishing so the narrowness is not at all penal. Inside the barbed wire are some rather delightful contours, most notably at the 4th, 6th and 8th. Most holes have but one greenside bunker, allowing the option of both aerial and running approaches.
One thing I didn’t care for was the 200 yard walk from the 5th green back to the 6th tee. I solved this annoyance by playing to the 3rd green instead. It’s only a few steps from the 6th tee.
Charles Blair MacDonald’s old saw about not confusing the canvas with the artwork comes to mind here. The canvas is spectacular, ringed by mountains and with the wild Atlantic in view. The golf artwork is no where near as spectacular, but fun enough for me to give it a rating that’s consistent with Doak’s 5.
A simplistic but intriguing golf course! A rating of 5 from Tom Doak in his confidential guide certainly warrants a trip and I’m glad I made that trip.
The course is laid out on a relatively flat piece of land however the green complexes are anything but that. Highlights include, 1, 5, 6, 7, 8. The approach to 7 is fantastic, a semi blind approach to a bowl like green where the ball runs away from you. The 8th green seems a little difficult for the average golfer with the angle the hole is played from but wasn’t a problem in January when I played.
You can see that land has been lost to the ocean around the back of 8 green and 9th tee. Although there is still room up left of 8 green which could provide an interesting greensite. Who knows what once was?!
Definitely worth checking out if you’re within an hour or so of the course. Golf played the way it was intended.
My only visit to Mulranny happened a few years ago on my way to Carne and I remember the golf for the basic manner in its overall presentation. The architecture is simply matter-of-fact.
Yes, the nine-hole layout is without all the elements one finds today with golf. One has to ask -- have all the recent inclusions been a plus or more of a sideshow? For those enamored with the sideshow -- the experience at Mulranny will be a desire to get it over with and quickly move on to other more noted courses. Fair enough.
For core golfers wishing to savor the game through its most bedrock principles a round at Mulranny will be a reconnection to the game's most enduring elements. Sometimes to really appreciate the golf journey one needs to get off the main road.
Keep your expectations in check, enjoy the views provided via Clew Bay and smile at how meaningful the game can be.
M. James Ward
After so much high-end golf I decided to pay homage to the origins of the game – at a place, that is not very far removed from them! It takes some doing to get there from Lahinch, you'll have to cut off Connemara entirely and keep pushing north until you meet the coast again at Mallaranny. Nobody knows who laid out the nine holes on the links or when exactly it happened. In fact, nothing much appears to have been done at all outside of fencing off a few green sites and creating remarkably undulated putting surfaces within. Fairway lines and conditioning are determined by grazing animals, there's an honesty box for the greenfee and off you go. Click the link to read more… Ireland – any decent golf on the West Coast?