Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris) - Donegal - Ireland

Rosapenna Golf Links,
Downings,
Letterkenny,
Co Donegal,
Ireland


  • +353 (0) 74 915 5301

  • Golf Club Website

  • 25 miles from Letterkenny on the N56, then R245 and R248

  • Welcome anytime

  • Frank Casey Jnr

  • Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, James Braid, Pat Ruddy, Tom Doak

  • Bryan Patterson


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Rosapenna (Old)

Statue of Old Tom Morris at RosappenaOld Tom Morris, whilst visiting Lord Leitrim on his estate in 1891, is credited with the original design of Rosapenna's Old course. Harry Vardon and James Braid made further changes in later years, so the course bears the architectural hallmarks of men who between them won no fewer than fifteen Open Championships.

The original 18-hole Old Tom Morris course started on some raised land between the clubhouse and the hotel. Nine holes then ran along the low lying area beside Tramore beach before the remaining fairways ran away from the coastline, across the road, up and around a nearby hill, tumbling down again to the start.

In June 2005, nine new holes opened for play, laid out by Pat Ruddy from the European Club. These were carved through the low-lying dunes adjacent to the Sandy Hills course and became known as the “Strand Nine”. Reaching for perfection, the club closed the Strand nine at the end of 2006 for extensive greensite restoration and bunker additions. Shaper Eric Iverson from Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design Company undertook this work and, in September of 2009, the nine holes reopened and the order of holes were re-sequenced.

The opening hole and the last eight holes of the original Old Tom Morris course were removed to form a new “Coastguard Nine” and the newly restored “Strand Nine” was introduced to create the front nine, with the original Old Tom “Valley Nine” (holes 2 to 10) re-sequenced as the back nine, which finishes in front of the Rosapenna Pavilion.

In essence, Rosapenna now has a restored Old course where the modern Strand holes complement the original Old Tom Morris Valley holes in a layout that’s a blend of old-fashioned and contemporary, where design from the late 19th century spans more than a hundred years to meet the brave new modern golf world.

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: In September of 2009, Rosapenna's Old Tom Morris golf course reopened after a major facelift. Rating: 5 out of 6 Reviews: 12

The Old Tom Morris links may be the lower ranked of the two courses, but its popularity provides sufficient evidence that it should not be ignored. I walked eighteen on Sandy Hills and hardly saw a soul whilst the Old Tom Morris course was packed. The Old Tom Morris course is both more forgiving and classic in style than its championship sister course. Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer Playing across two contrasting halves, rather than the nines being positioned side by side, the course is bisected down the middle by the gigantic dunes that Sandy Hills is played across.

The “Strand” front nine is played across smaller, more traditional duneland and starts off with a steady, if unspectacular first few holes but rapidly ramps up in quality at the 6th. This was my pick of the holes across the eighteen, played towards a green swallowed up by a large dune, it’s a hole that would grace most top level courses. The next hole, a par three played over a hollow of sandy wasteland is also first class. The last two holes of this front nine return back towards the clubhouse with the closing hole channelled through a duned valley.

As you then take the walk across to the back nine “Valley” holes, there’s a change of gear. In no way inferior to the front nine, it’s this time played across flatter land against the backdrop of Sheephaven Bay. The first four holes are set parallel to the shoreline that’s blessed with a beautiful sandy beach, whilst another wonderful Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer par three, complete with a tremendous elevated green complex, takes you towards the end of the property. This nine then loops back around and plays in the shadow of those mountainous dunes which border it and closes out in front of a statue of Old Tom who watches over those putts and handshakes on the final green.

For the resorts so called “second course”, I was very much pleasantly surprised with the quality of the course, and in my mind holds its own with others in the region, even if it hadn’t been part of a larger golf complex. That being said, with the right investment, including the development of the St Patricks course by Tom Doak’s Renaissance team (which also has bags of potential), Rosapenna has all of the ingredients to become the go-to golf destination in Ireland.

5 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
November 05, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

Played this morning in a 2/3 club wind and under the threat of rain that never truly arrived and we had the course to ourselves. Gentle first hole, followed by slightly prosaic 2&3 but really got going at the terrific 6th, long par 4 with dell green and terrific sand craters to the right that we then played over on the lovely 7 th par 3. The 8 th is a cracking downhill par 5, and the 9th rounds out the front half nicely.... And on to the main course, 10 to 15 are great seaside holes, and flattish holes at the feet of Sandy Hills take us home. The par 5 16&18 are a little plain, but it's nice to finish with some birdie chances. Sitting in the clubhouse enjoying a Guinness and watching the wind blowing the seas of marram grass it's a great place to be !

5 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
April 18, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful
Respond to above review

A truly tremendous course that is beautiful, tough and fair. Terrific par threes. The layout has been hugely altered from the original Tom Morris layout which is a pity but the changes have been made with great skill. Personally I prefer this course to the hideously hard Sandy Hills both visually and from a playability point of view.

One of the best golf venues in Ireland.

5 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
January 16, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

This is a difficult review to write: I really enjoyed the variety of the previous edition of the Rosapenna Old Links with the Coastguard holes providing great views and quite modest quality golf and the Valley holes the opposite. It was also a very different experience to Sandy Hills.

However, no one remotely objective can say that the course has not improved a lot with the Strand Nine (currently holes 1-9) and the new tees and driving lines on the Valley Nine (now holes 10-18).

Many reviewers have over the years said that they prefer the Old Links over Sandy Hills and I think I also belong in that category, although the differences between the courses are smaller now.

The recommendation therefore becomes: if you can only play one round at Rosapenna and your handicap is in double figures, play the Old Links.

A final aside: On my two visits to Rosapenna, we have been almost alone on either course, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, this probably means that the two dormant courses at neighbouring St Patrick’s will remain just that for quite some time. Hope to be very wrong sooner rather than later as this is great golfing terrain.

5 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
September 18, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

This is the one to play.......play Sandy Hills later.

6 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
September 18, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

To start off our trip, we played the Old Tom Morris course and I enjoyed it a lot. The front nine has some cracking holes like 6,7 and 9 but the other holes have a very compact routing which I didn't really like. It gives the course a less serious feel. The back nine is completely different however. The holes close to the sea are very spectacular and wouldn't misfit on any top linkscourse. It has a great mix of holes, including a great reachable risk-reward par 4 13th. the following one shotter is also a worldclass hole with a valley between tee and green. Old Tom Morris is a friendly course that can show its' teeth when you're not paying attention. Play both courses to see how they contrast! but if you're in a hurry, I hold nearby Portsalon higher in esteem.

4 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
September 02, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

What a piece of land ! Rosapenna offers a world class 36 holes of golf. Whilst Sandy Hills is the more dramatic in terms of dunescape and routing, OTM is more classical links. In terms of OTM, my view is that the back 9 is prettier and with a slightly better contrast of holes. The standout holes are:- 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18 (great finishing hole)

4 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
May 17, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
I would love to play this course every day! The front nine is new but has bedded in very well and has some terrific holes, particularly the longer par 4s. The back nine is from the original Tom Morris course and is a delight, with the stretch from 12 to 16 giving magnificent views and the par 3 in that sequence being outstanding. Not as difficult as Sandy Hills but perhaps more fun - this course has a smile on its face whereas its sibling looks stern and has its arms folded - which of course is all the excuse you need to play both! CF
5 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
September 04, 2014


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
We loved this course when we played it last week despite getting absolutely soaked on the front nine. The sun came out on the 10th and highlighted the gorgeous views afforded from the course. There is no doubt that this is an easier track than it's sister Sandy Hills but not every course needs to be penal to be enjoyable. Just to be on this course in the peace and quiet and with those amazing views was a joy. We loved the hotel and enjoyed Sandy Hills too. Great place to come for a golf break.
6 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
August 21, 2012


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
It was fitting that the first tee shot I would ever hit in Ireland would come less than 20 miles from the birth place of my Paternal Grandparents. When the trip to Rosapena was first muted I jumped at it straight away, counting down like a prisoner chalking off the days in solitary confinement. Although we weren’t going to play the celebrated Sandy Hills we were going to be fortunate and privileged to be playing the new Ruddy/ Morris design which, at our time of playing, would not be open to the general public. We just had to hope that the infamous Irish weather would behave itself and mercifully it did. The sun shone and Rosapenna looked as pretty as a picture, I was in my element. After a very friendly and gracious welcome from Frank Casey Jnr we set off for my first sojourn into Irish golf. I was not disappointed. A gentle opening open gave way to charming par 3. Holes 3 - 5 are par 4’s which will see your game severely tested with holes 6 + 7 the pick of the front 9. The 7th at the moment is being played to a temporary green and if I may be so bold I would advise that they made it permanent. I was advised by my playing companion that the inward half would be more prosaic in comparison. I have to disagree as I thought that holes 12-14 and 16 + 17 were superb. I put his lack of judgement down to spending too much time with the wrinkly’s on the senior tour, it has obviously dulled his senses. I don’t know if this review has been influenced with it being my first game in Ireland coupled with a narrow 6 + 4 victory but I loved the place and, if I am spared, I would love to return one day to play not only the Old course but also the Sandy Hills. Now, that would be a day to savour. MPPJ
5 / 6
Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
September 09, 2009


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Response
Jim McCann
September 10, 2009
As the opponent mentioned in the above review, I must admit to being totally ashamed at losing so heavily to a such a parkland-loving golfer but we'll reserve judgement for the moment on who is the "King of Rosapenna" until we return to play Sandy Hills next door - now THAT will really separate the men from the boys!