- AddressGolf Course Rd, Carrowbunnaun, Strandhill, Co. Sligo, Ireland
Strandhill is a resort that lies at the western base of Knocknarea – “Moon Mountain” – a 1,000-foot high limestone mass to the southern side of Sligo Bay. An enormous stone structure, 60 yards in diameter and 30 feet high, sits at the top of the mountain. “Maeve’s Cairn” as it is called, is said to be the grave of the mythical Queen Maeve, whose father, the high King of Ireland at the time, presented her with the province of Connacht as a gift many years ago.
Way below, in the shadow of the mountain, sits Strandhill Golf Club, better known perhaps to those who chase the waves as a great surfing location though its fine links golf course also has a fair following amongst those who chase the wee white ball in the Sligo area.
Strandhill Golf Club was formed in 1931 and members played on a 9-hole layout for over forty years until Eddie Hackett extended the course to 18 holes in 1973. Some of the green designs allow for severe undulations which add greatly to the challenge of playing Strandhill.
It is a criticism that the course design is too large for the acreage available and it is true that the 6,243 total yardage of the course takes up just about every square yard of the beautiful sand hills between Strandhill Beach to the north and Culleenamore Strand to the south.
There are four par threes and only one par five on the course – the 530-yard, left doglegged 5th hole, named “The Dunes” which is played to a sunken green. The difficult, 441-yard right doglegged 18th, called “Bustard’s Lodge” is not stroke index 1 for nothing. The tee shot must find the fairway left of the equipment sheds then the approach should be targeted to the back right hand side of the green.
We received the following exclusive quote from Ally McIntosh in August 2021:
“What an absolute joy Strandhill is to play: a perfect mix of undulating links land, snugly fitting in to a compact site between the mountains and the ocean. The only thing lacking was any kind of design input.
Since 2016, that has all changed as we have completely redesigned and rebuilt the bunker scheme, adding strategy to the holes and aesthetically enhancing the links. Much work has been done on widening and extending fairways and mowing lines, bringing a much larger scale and feel to the holes.
Tee complexes are currently being redesigned and some of the greens are being slightly remodelled, primarily around the edges to blend them in to the landscape more seamlessly.
The big question remaining is whether the club will receive permission to use some of the additional land they have to the rear of the current 4th hole, easing some tight areas around the links and in the process introducing spectacular new holes and resequencing the order.
Even if this final part of the jigsaw never comes to fruition, Strandhill has been improved greatly and is now an unmissable stop for any golfers touring the North West of Ireland.”
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Eddie Hackett is regarded as “the father of golf course design” in Ireland, though he never formally trained as an architect and only became involved in laying out courses when he reached his late fifties.