Review of the Month October 2018 – Lough Erne (Faldo)
This latest visit was my third to Lough Erne, it’s a gorgeous place to relax and stay if you’re visiting the region. On my first visit a few years ago, I played in mid-Summer and the course blew me away. It’s a nicely routed layout played in several small loops, snaking its way back and forth across a spit of land between loughs Erne and Castlehulme in what is an undeniably picturesque setting.
A raised wooden footbridge takes you across the wetlands and reeds before the first five holes wind their way pleasantly around some evergreen woodland. After a testing par three over a small lake you’re faced with a climb to the only hole that’s prominently elevated above all others, but it’s worth the trek since the 6th is my pick of the holes across the eighteen. The 6th is a par five played along the top of the hill in between loughs with a semi blind uphill approach to the green from which you get some marvellous views.
The elevation of the next few holes dip and rise thereafter, this time around the perimeter of Lough Erne with the signage on the 7th tee boasting that Rory McIlroy was the first golfer to ever drive the green. At almost 400 yards with water along the right hand stretch of the hole, this is something close to a superhuman feat. The 9th hole is a little marmite, a blind tee shot tightly hugs the shore of the lough where, unless you’re happy with leaving yourself a 170-yard iron into the green, there is only the smallest slither of a fairway area to land your second shot. Despite its failings though, I still like the hole. The 10th is the signature hole at Lough Erne and features the first of two cape holes, the other being the 17th where the island greens are built from reclaimed land. The pace slows a little through the next few holes as the routing inevitably has to return inland before the last three holes present a block-buster finish over and around the waters of Castlehulme Lough where a watery grave is never far away.
Now that I’ve played the course on three different occasions at different times of the year, I’ve become less enamoured by the course than I was on my first visit as it does come across a little manufactured and unnatural in parts. The widow’s peak style bunkers, clover-like in their appearance also aren’t quite to my tastes and the fairway conditions can play very soft. The location of this course between two wetlands is hardly ideal turf for golf and maybe should have been sand capped, but ultimately there’s no denying the beauty of the setting or some of the golf holes. I’d recommend anyone to make the visit to Lough Erne once, particularly if you’re combining it with an overnight stay as the hotel is wonderful, the course just lacks the complexity and nuance to make it continue to be enjoyed to the same extent on repeat visits.
Review of the Month October 2018 selected by Editor-in-Chief, Keith Baxter – click to read more about Lough Erne.
Photos courtesy of Tom