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 HOME AT FIRST's

GOLF COURSES IN—

— Golfing Gems on the Emerald Isle —

 

Donegal Golf Club

MURVAGH PENINSULA, COUNTY DONEGAL, IRELAND

HOLE #2, 'WESTWARD HO' — 465 YDS, PAR 4 — #1 HANDICAP             Photo courtesy Donegal Golf Club

Murvagh makes Golf Digest Ireland's List of Top 20 Irish Courses. It makes our Top 5.

Donegal Golf Club — usually called "Murvagh" — extends on an appendix of land into Donegal Bay, 5 miles south of Donegal town in northwestern Ireland. The course occupies an ideal site of exposed links land on the Murvagh Peninsula, bordered to the north by the Bluestack Mountains, to the south and east by a ridge forested with tall pines, and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

M

urvagh is the most dramatically beautiful golf course we have ever seen. We visited the club on a late summer’s morning

when the wind was blowing hard off the Atlantic. Coming from the south, we turned one turn too early. When the road turned into one lane leading back into the pine-forested hills, we parked to check our map. I noticed a path leading into the forest. In a minute I was through the woods and looking across a wide beach. Rows of foamy, wind-driven waves were assaulting the beach. A mix of clouds raced across a cobalt-blue sky: cottony white low clouds; flatter,

Donegal Golf Club's dramatic location on the Murvagh peninsula. Donegal G.C. photo.
Donegal Golf Club's dramatic location:
the Murvagh peninsula.

Photo courtesy Donegal Golf Club.

denser middle-level clouds; and wispy

 

Nike-swoosh stratospheric clouds. To the right 150 or more yards along the beach, unexpectedly, was a golf green, its pin bending between 45-60º off of vertical in the near gale. I retreated to the car in a run. I had to see more of this course. By taking every left turn possible, we found a service road that breached the wooded ridge. Opening up in front and somewhat below us was Murvagh in all its glory: deep greens of fairway, golds of sand and dunes grasses, deep blues of sky and the waters of Donegal Bay, purples of the distant Bluestack Mountains, and rushing whites of clouds and Atlantic breakers. A few foursomes dotted some but not all of the fairways and greens at 9AM. With collars up, sweaters, jackets, and caps on, golfers leaned into the wind, even when putting. I wondered at the scene, and wish even today to find a large oil painting of it to display over the mantle piece in my living room.


 

Donegal (Murvagh) Golf Club

 

LOCATION:
      Donegal Golf Club
      Murvagh, Laghey, Ballintra, County Donegal, Ireland
      near Donegal town, County Donegal, Ireland
      Tel: (+353) (0) 74 973 4054
      e-mail:
info@donegalgolfclub.ie
      WEBSITE

 

Visitors Welcome:

     • Advance tee times required.

     No handicap restrictions.
      Open & Playable Year Round.

 

LENGTH & PAR: 18 Holes, Par 73
     Blue Championship Tees: 6,753m, 7,386 yards, Par 73, SSS 75
     White Tees: 6,333m, 6,926 yards, Par 73
     Orange Tees: 6,171m, 6,749 yards, Par 73
     Green Tees: 5,911m, 6,465 yards, Par 73
     Red Ladies' Tees: 5,218m, 5,707 yards, Par 73

 

GREENS FEES:    Currency Converter

     Weekdays (Mo-Fr): €60/round; Husband & Wife: €80/round
     Weekends (Sa-Su) & Holidays: €70/round.
 

FACILITIES:

Golf Cart (Buggy): €40/round
Pull Cart (Trolley):
€3
Club Rental:
€30
Caddies available on request

Driving Range with automatic ball dispenser
Putting Green
Pitching Green with 2 bunkers
Practice Area
Golf Shop
Restaurant & Bar
Visitors' Lockers, showers, towels.

 

BOOKING OF TEE TIMES (required in advance):
    Tel: (+353) (0) 74 973 4054
    Via the
CLUB WEBSITE
    E-mail:
info@donegalgolfclub.ie

     NOTES: Credit Card information necessary to hold booking. No charges made to
               your card until date of play (when you may substitute cash as payment).
   CANCELLATIONS & NO-SHOWS: Cancellations without penalty of existing
               bookings outside of 1-week prior to play. Cancellations within 1-week of
               play suffer a 50% green fee penalty charge. No-shows (without notice of
               cancellation) are penalized 100% of greens fees.

 

LOCATION: Donegal (Murvagh) Golf Club is on the Murvagh Peninsula about 5
               miles south of Donegal town and west of the N15 main Sligo-Donegal road.

    NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: In Northwestern Ireland in and near
               Donegal town approximately 10-15 minutes north and west of the course.
               Also in County Sligo about 45 minutes south of the course.

      Let HOME AT FIRST make your tee-time reservations at Donegal Golf Club as
        part of your next trip to Ireland. There is no service fee for this service!

 

OTHER REGIONAL COURSES OF NOTE:
      Bundoran: quality, historic Harry Vardon links 7 miles south of Murvagh on
        Rt. 15 in Bundoran, County Donegal.
      Narin & Portnoo: Challenging old school links course set among some of
        County Donegal's most dramatic coastal and mountain scenery 30 miles NW of
        Murvagh. Rated #34 on Golf Digest Ireland's "2014 Top 100 Irish Golf Courses".
      County Sligo (Rosses Point): County Sligo, tough, scenic peninsular course
        near Sligo town, 45 minutes south of Murvagh. Rated #12 on Golf Digest
        Ireland
's "2014 Top 100 Irish Golf Courses".
      Enniscrone: County Sligo, brilliant, relatively unknown links facing the wild
        ocean on the western end of County Sligo, about 60 minutes west of Sligo
        town. Rated #13 on Golf Digest Ireland's "2014 Top 100 Irish Golf Courses".
        Another Eddie Hackett minimalist design from the early 1970’s. Bless him.


 

H

ISTORY: The founding of the Donegal Golf Club, although recent enough (1960) to be within eyewitness memory, is already steeped in misty lore befitting such a magnificent natural setting. No — the Murvagh course is not some magical gift of

Celtic gods nor a vision from one of the great designers of Pantheon of 19th century links builders. Simply put, a group of local boys who tired of the old Donegal 9-hole course’s seasonal-only operation started looking for a site on which to develop an 18-hole all-year track. After all, if the boys down the road at Bundoran could play links golf all year on their venerable Harry Vardon course, why shouldn’t they shouldn’t they enjoy the same privilege?
         When the ideal site — the Murvagh Peninsula — came available in the early 1970’s the group hired old Eddie

The late Eddie Hackett, course designer of Donegal G.C. at Murvagh -- for £200! Photo courtesy Donegal Golf Club.
EDDIE HACKETT.
Photo courtesy Donegal Golf Club.

Hackett to design the club’s new course. Hackett, a Dubliner 

 

of Tipperary parents, came to know Harry Vardon (and the great James Braid, too) — from playing the British Open at Muirfield, Scotland during the 1930’s. Now, at the end of his long golf career as club pro at Portmarnock, Hackett dabbled in course design. The Donegal Golf Club was prepared to pay Eddie £200 to do the job. Hackett’s design philosophy — like the great Vardon and greater Braid — was perfect for the new site: "I only dress up what the Good Lord provides."
         Donegal’s golfers opened their new Murvagh links and clubhouse in 1976. Eddie Hackett returned often to tweak the course until his death in 1996. While elsewhere modern designers have felt it important to create gimmicky golf courses, old Eddie was smart enough to take an ideal site and develop it in the traditional way. The results are neither boring nor clichéd, and the course’s deserved recognition is building. Over the years Murvagh has hosted important national tourneys, including the Irish Amateur close championship for men (2004) and for ladies (2003), and, more recently, the Ulster Senior's Amateur Championship in 2010. The November 2013 issue of Golf Digest Ireland magazine ranked Donegal Golf Club’s course at Murvagh as #20 on its list of Ireland’s top one hundred courses, ahead of some illustrious names including The K-Club, Royal Dublin, Doonbeg, Ballyliffin, Rosapenna, Dooks, Druids Glen, and Fota Island.


 

THE COURSE & SOME NOTABLE HOLES

DONEGAL GOLF CLUB CLUBHOUSE AND 18th HOLE 'BOGEY HILL', PAR 4, 436 YDS, #10 HANDICAP

L

ike Muirfield in Scotland, Murvagh is a pair of 9-hole circuits, the back nine looped inside the front. Ocean winds — often fierce on this course with front Atlantic exposure — affect each nine and potentially every hole played in a

given round. Murvagh is cut off from mainland Donegal wedged between the ocean and elevated pine forest, is more exposed to wind than most links

courses, and seems wild and remote. The course is long for a links (almost 7,400 yards from the blues, and almost 7,000 yards from the whites), and usually plays even longer because of the wind. And, because weather plays such an important role at Murvagh, holes that seem benign on one day may fight you with tooth and claw on the next. Still, there are some holes that are more memorable than others:

#5 – 'The Valley of Tears'

DONEGAL GOLF CLUB 5th HOLE: PAR 3, 196 YDS, #13 HANDICAP

Well-named short hole that requires both length and accuracy to reach the plateau green in the wind.


#6 – 'The Long Ridge'

DONEGAL 6th HOLE PAR 5, 513 YDS, #17 HANDICAP

 

Unforgettable for its overview of the beach from its elevated tees.
The length and accuracy required may render your score here very forgettable.


#7 – 'Badger's Sett'

DONEGAL 7th HOLE: PAR 4, 427 YDS, #9 HANDICAP

 

Despite being downhill from the tees, the correct placement on the heavily-bunkered,
two-tiered green is difficult to manage or hold with a long second shot in the wind.


#8 – 'Moyne Hill'

DONEGAL 8th HOLE PAR 5, 549 YDS, #3 HANDICAP

 

Your first two shots here are blind. This ocean hole plays even longer in the often fierce wind conditions.


#10 – 'Round the Bend'

DONEGAL 10th HOLE: PAR 4, 395 YDS, #12 HANDICAP

 

The shorter inner loop begins with a short par 4 that requires an accurate
drive to set up any chance of reaching the green "around the bend" in two.


#13 – 'Wee Dunt'

DONEGAL 13th HOLE PAR 3, 182 YDS, #18 HANDICAP

 

Holes 13 & 16, "Wee Dunt" and "Big Dunt" are the two significant
Par 3’s on the back nine, especially the long (249 yards) #16.


 

T

HE REGION: Northwestern Ireland is blessed with some of Ireland’s most dramatic scenery where Ireland girds itself against the relentless forces of the Atlantic. Its people are equally hardy, but also welcoming and a little shy. The further north and west you go the more Gaelic you will hear spoken, and the more turf fires you will smell. Touring here is the primary activity for

visitors, but the region properly draws numerous fishermen and hikers. There’s great seafood on the menu, along with many traditional, local delicacies. For a change of pace, it’s easy to cross into western Northern Ireland from Counties Donegal and Sligo, if only to visit the Belleek Pottery factory near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh.


TRAVELING TO NORTHWESTERN IRELAND TO PLAY GOLF?
Let
HOME AT FIRST make your advance tee-times at Donegal Golf Club and many other Irish golf courses as part of your pre-reserved Irish trip itinerary. HOME AT FIRST offers independent, flexible, fly/drive travel to Ireland and other great golfing destinations in the British Isles. There’s no extra charge for this service.

MORE RESOURCES:
     Golf in Ireland
    
Home At First's
IRELAND travel program.

GOLF IN THE BRITISH ISLES
Want to learn about other courses throughout the British Isles
including some of the greatest tests of golf in the world? See our
IRELAND, SCOTLAND, ENGLAND, and WALES
Course Guides for more information.

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