North West Golf Club was one of nine founder members of the Golf Union of Ireland in 1891 (under the name of Buncrana) when it became the first club association in the world. The club was formed the same year when the professional at Royal Portrush, a gentleman called Mr Thompson, laid out a course at Fahan, just south of Buncrana in Donegal.
The holes are routed on relatively flat links land on the shores of Lough Swilly and the club has fought a constant battle against coastal erosion over the years, resulting in huge rocks now being placed along hundreds of yards of shoreline in an attempt to keep the mighty Atlantic at bay.
The course measures 6,334 yards and has only two par fives, both at the end of each nine on the 9th and the 18th holes. Fairways criss-cross on this old-fashioned layout at the 4th and 17th holes – in fact the 17th also crosses the fairway of the last hole too!
A feature hole at North West is the shortest par four on the card, the 345-yard 4th, called “Kinnegar.” It doglegs sharply to the right and has a lateral water hazard running from the dogleg along the fairway to the right of the putting surface. The golfer is tempted to cut the corner off the tee but a potential birdie can so easily become a bogey or worse if the fairway is not found.
North West are so proud of having Brian McElhinney (2005 Amateur Open Champion) as a member that they have a picture of him and the famous old trophy on the front of their scorecard. There is absolutely no doubt that playing on such a fine links like North West stood Brian in good stead and helped him overcome all the opposition when he won at Royal Birkdale that year.