Located in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain – where St Patrick is reputed to have driven all the serpents out of the country – Westport boasts fantastic views of the surrounding area from its elevated position above the shore of Clew Bay.
Laid out on over two hundred and fifty acres of rolling parkland that were once part of the Lord Sligo of Westport House estate, Fred Hawtree redesigned the current course in 1973. He said of Westport, “the nature of the terrain, part inland and part seaside, the panorama which it commands and its considerable golfing virtues, make it uniquely attractive and memorable”.
The course has held many Irish championships, including the Close Amateur in 1977, 1985, 1997 and 2005. The Irish Seniors was also hosted by Westport in 1988 and 2000.
Measuring just twenty yards short of seven thousand in total length, Westport is a demanding track that will test even the longest of hitters off the tee There are five par five holes on the scorecard which has a Standard Scratch Score of 74, one more than the par for the course.
The holes immediately beside the coastline are the real feature at Westport and they run from “Roman Island,” the 208-yard par three 12th to the 515-yard par 5 15th, called “The Reek” where the tee shot must carry 150 yards past an inlet to the left of the fairway.
Throughout the near 100 years of its existence, Westport Golf Club has had a well-deserved reputation for offering wonderful hospitality and friendliness towards visiting golfers so you are guaranteed a very warm Mayo welcome here.
The opening six holes are set out on a parcel of land that was once used as the Ballyknock Race Course, a fact I discovered since playing here when I read Padraig McLoughlin’s excellent centenary book called “Westport, 100 years of golf: 1908-2008”.
Of course, the club has only operated from its present site since moving there in 1973 to Lord Sligo’s estate, where the fairways were set out by Fred Hawtree -- who had been recommended by the club captain as he was also a member at Portmarnock, where the architect had also worked.
Holes 1-6 are solid enough, without offering too much in the way of inspirational golf, and I loved the seriously raised green on the 6th in particular. The round really gets under way thereafter, with the first heavily contoured green at the par five 7th giving an indication of good golfing things to come (apart from holes 11 and 17, where both fairways are badly compromised because they’re set on the side of steep hills).
The two par threes on the back nine are exceptional: the long 12th plunging down to the Atlantic Ocean in Clew Bay and the short 14th, where the green sits directly in line with Croagh Patrick. Best hole on the course for me though was the 586-yard 15th, “The Reek,” a demanding par five that starts with a very intimidating carry across a wide water inlet then curves gently left around the bay to a lovely raised green.
Conditioning throughout was of a very high standard, something you’d probably expect from a course that holds the title of Best Parkland Course in Connaught 2014. If polished parkland golf’s your game of choice then Westport’s the place to play should you be in the area.