Rosslare Golf Club was formed in 1905 when members played on a 9-hole course behind the Iona Hotel. Twenty years later, the club moved to its present site on the strand and in 1928 their new Hawtree and Taylor designed 18-hole layout was first played on.
Six of these Championship course holes were reconstructed in recent years to favourable comment from both members and visitors. A relief 12-hole course, the “Burrow”, was designed by Christy O’Conner Jnr and brought into play in 1992.
Rosslare is regarded as being the sunniest spot in Ireland and it is almost unheard of to have the course closed due to bad weather or ground conditions. The busy Rosslare port lies a few miles to the south and golfers can see many huge car ferries and container ships coming and going, their predominant destinations being the ports of Fishguard, Pembroke and Cherbourg.
The par 72, 6,786-yard Championship course is a classic, old fashioned links situated on a narrow peninsula with many fine holes laid out among the wind-swept sand hills, humps and hollows that separate the mainland from the Irish Sea.
The most memorable hole on the card is the 481-yard, par four (par five for the ladies) 11th, named ‘Barber’s Pole’, which is normally played into the prevailing wind. The second shot is played blind over a red and white post in the fairway – hence the title of the hole.
Rosslare was recognised as a championship venue early in its formation when it held the Irish Close Championship in 1934. It has hosted many other tournaments since, including the Carrolls Irish Professional Matchplay in 1982.
A decision was taken in 2006 to commence a major program of reseeding to bring all the putting surfaces back to their former glory so the club is to be congratulated for maintaining high golfing standards as they set out on their second century in existence.
I was instantly struck by the character of the first couple of holes, both set near the clubhouse and car-park area with tall trees around providing a little bit of wind shelter. The 1st is a dogleg left index 5 par four of 375 yards, flat in terms of elevation change from tee to green but with typical links undulations along the way and a few pot bunkers either side in addition to the trees on the left imploring careful consideration of your line off the tee. For the approach, the green appears smaller than its size and is guarded by three pot bunkers at the sides - a very good opening hole. The 4th to 7th holes stretch northbound up the east side of the peninsula is one of the finest four hole stretches of links golf you may find, a high wall of dunes flanking the right, the beautifully remote and isolated beach on the other side of the dunes. The 6th and 7th tees both hug the dunes on the right edge of the course and make for charming settings. The 7th hole was my favourite hole on the course and must be one of the best holes in the country. A 555 yard par five, the tee is in an elevated position shaped into the dune, a tranquil setting offering a scenic tee shot played slightly away from the coastline, the lay of the rugged links-land pushing the fairway to the left, before it veers back right towards the dunes, whilst all along the sweeping peaks and troughs of the meandering fairway make this hole a particularly enjoyable walk. The green is located at the most northerly and remote part of the Old Course.
For the 170 yard par three 8th, you play your first southbound shot since the 2nd tee and the course routing follows this direction all the way to the 13th green, in fact, apart from the 14th hole, you travel south from here on all the way to the 18th tee. There are some very hard par fours on the way in, the 9th, 11th and 17th come to mind, but holes such as the par five 12th and driveable par four 13th give you a chance to get one or two shots back.
The par three 14th is the only hole on the course played directly to the east towards the sea; it's a very cool hole (probably my second favourite on the course after the 7th), framed by the dunes behind what is a classic natural par three green site.
The 17th green and 18th tee are in the serene southern corner of the course, and to add to the appeal, the 475 yard par five 18th is rated the easiest hole in the course, offering a welcome birdie chance and a fun finish. As long as your tee shot clears the ridge in the fairway (c. 200 yards), you should have a chance to attack the green, though there are pot bunkers and some taller trees lurking near the green. A very nice finale to a golf course that must be visited if you are anywhere near the sunny South East corner of Ireland. There is enough variety, challenge and splendour on show to make this well worth a visit. Bring your 'A' game too - this par 72 is over 6,700 yards off the back tees with trouble abound, not to mention the wind!
I get to enjoy a round at Rosslare’s links every year during my annual trip to Kelly’s, a fantastic hotel a short walk away from the entrance to the golf course.
Rosslare Golf Club is located along one side of a peninsula and there’s actually two courses here, the Championship layout and the pay and play “Burrow” 12-hole course. The Championship course is clearly the superior of the two and is defined by the 30’ high dune providing a sea defence that extends down the length of the course. On a fine day, I’d recommend climbing to the top of the dune to take in the views of the sand and the sea, there aren’t many views on offer whilst you’re on the course other than one or two elevated tee positions.
The course itself is a good test and a genuine, unfussy links. A group of inland holes get your round under way and start to become more interesting with a wonderfully bumpy fairway on the par five 3rd. The reason to visit Rosslare however becomes apparent between holes 4 through 7. This stretch follows the line of the beach and are as good as you’ll find anywhere, a real pleasure to play. This area of the course plays in one direction away from the clubhouse and covers natural rolling ground as you have to strike your ball across dunes and hidden valleys to raised greens, most notably at the tough 5th. The direction is then switched at the 8th hole as you return inland, making your way back towards the clubhouse. In general, the second half of holes don’t have the quality of the aforementioned stretch, with the exception of the demanding 11th hole, a par four of 468 yards in length with a blind second shot over a dune that divides the fairway in two, similar to the 3rd at Royal Cinque Ports in Kent for those of you who’ve played there.
Reading the reviews below, I’m in complete agreement with Dan’s comment that there seems to be an opportunity missed by not using the land covered by the 6th, 8th and 9th holes on the Burrow course. This would have continued that fantastic stretch of golf holes that sits adjacent to the beach. The use of railway sleepers however is a lovely touch, dotted around the course to define the tee locations. I wonder if the club would ever consider extending the use of the sleepers to reinforce the bunkers to add some more character to those inland holes like they do over at Royal West Norfolk?
In summary, whilst Rosslare isn’t in of itself a course particularly worth going out of your way for, if you happen to be staying in County Wexford, enjoying some R&R at Kelly’s or coming across on the ferry from Fishguard, head by Rosslare and experience the seaside golf on offer. It would be an ideal opener to a longer golf trip before heading on to some of the more renowned courses across Ireland.
Played this morning, July 2017 for the first time. Front nine into a stiff breeze with back mostly down breeze. Terrific, old school links course. Some fantastic holes alongside some shorter, tricky ones. Incredible value at €30 and as good as many €100+ courses in GB&I in my view.