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 W. 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.
An absolute gem of a golf course!
There can't be many (if any) better parkland courses on the island of Ireland.
It is everything a good parkland should be, it's in great condition, has slick and unblemished greens, fantastic tee boxes and fairways that resemble carpet. It's a very strategic golf course and it really requires you to think about your approach to the green when you are stood on the tee box.
The last thing the pro said to me before teeing off was 'make sure you make a good score through the front five'. He couldn't have been more correct. The front five holes are in top condition but are reasonably easy. The course bites back on the long par 4 6th hole which is followed by a strong par 5 7th hole with water in play on the approach. The 8th hole is a tough par 4 with water in play to the right of the green (don't get suckered in to a pin tucked on the right hand side of the green, a watery grave awaits). The front nine finishes with a tough up hill par 3. The 10th is a good par 5 with water lurking on the right for any miss hit tee shot. The 11th is where the course stops being a good parkland course and jumps to a truly great parkland course. As previously mentioned this course meets all the usual criteria for a good parkland but it has a secret weapon which is stunning scenery. The course is nestled at the foot of Croagh Patrick and backs on to Clew Bay. You can see the mountain from pretty much every hole but it's holes 11 through to 16 that really use that brilliant scenery for maximum impact. The 11th is just a fantastic golf hole. A long par 4 which is uphill and doglegs right. A solid drive and a long iron will be required to get on in regulation. But it's arriving at the top of the hill that will give you the most reward. It's one of the highest points of the course and you get a great sweeping view of Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick. The highs keep coming. The 12th is a long par 3 from an elevated tee (the view of the bay is stunning). The course falls away into the sea immediately after you reach the 12th green so anything long is fish food. The 13th is a strong par 4 and is followed by a short par 3 with Croagh Patrick as it's back drop (it feels like you can reach out and touch it). You aim the club by picking a spot on the mountain. The 15th hole is a spectacular par 5 that requires a drive across an inlet in the bay and turns left towards a raised green. The bay runs the whole way down the left hand side of the hole so any pulled shot is in big trouble. The green is beautiful and quickly kicks balls towards the water or bunkers on the left if an approach shot has a little too much right to left spin. The par 4 16th requires you to go uphill from the bay so you get a great view from the back of the 16th green. 17 is a driveable par 4 for the longer hitters but most will end up flicking a wedge in for their approach. 18 is quite simply a wonderful finishing hole. A tough par 5 with water running the whole way down the right hand side of the hole. Those who take the green on in 2 will likely have to be brave and take on the water again as it creeps in towards the right hand side of the green. The 18th green is a great green complex with lots of undulations and like the other 17 before it, it is in prefect condition.
As is standard in this part of the world the members and club staff were delightful and very welcoming. The club house was comfortable and understated.
All in all, this is a course not to be missed. Westport has great tourist footfall and the course is only a very short car journey from the city centre so if you have a spare few hours grab your sticks and play WGC. You won't be disappointed.
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.