Ballyliffin Golf Club Old Course Review

One half of a terrific golfing double act, Ballyliffin Old Links is an excellent course that has more variety than most links and is enormous fun no matter how you play

The sixteenth on the Old Course at Ballyliffin
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One half of a terrific golfing double act, Ballyliffin Old Links is an excellent course that has more variety than most links and is enormous fun no matter how you play

Ballyliffin Golf Club Old Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 99

Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 100 New Entry

Summer Green Fees

Round - €180, Day - €320

Visitors: welcome, subject to availability

Medal Tee: Par 71 - 6,450 Yards

ballyliffingolfclub.com (opens in new tab)

Changes since previous ranking

New ladies tee on the 4th. Replacing hard pathways with grass pathways. New Par 3 Course opened, the Pollan Links.

Ballyliffin Golf Club Old Course Review

Ballyliffin has become a must-visit golfing destination, boasting not one but two excellent courses. And while it may be the newer Glashedy Links that attracts the plaudits and the European Tour, the Old Course is a very worthy draw in its own right.

Golf here dates back to 1947, but the fabulous expanse of dunes that is now home to its two courses was not purchased until 1970. Initially a 9-holer, the Old Links was remodelled and expanded into a full 18 three years later. So while it may not be as old as some New courses, think St Andrews or Sunningdale, it certainly has a timeless quality that means it could be far older.

Not only is it one of the best golf courses in Ireland but it's also one of the top 100 golf courses in the UK and Ireland.

Faldo a Fan

Originally something of a slow-moving feast with design input from Eddie Hackett and Pat Ruddy as well as others, it was most recently upgraded by Sir Nick Faldo in 2004. The 6-time major champion had visited a decade or so before and instantly become a great fan of the Old Course.

The green on the 566 yards par 5, 14th hole 'Bulbin' on the Old (Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)

Knocking on the door of the Top 100 for some time, it finally entered in 2019. Perhaps a little more forgiving than its younger sibling, it is certainly more traditional. Some also consider it to be the more fun of the two. Whatever your view on this, there is no doubting that it makes for a perfect companion and counterbalance, full of allure and character, while still a proper test in its own right.

At Ballyliffin as much as at any 36-hole club, it is well worth taking the time to play both courses, compare and contrast, and make your own conclusions.

Assessor Feedback

Midst the duneland and its proximity to the ocean, this is a special experience. The Atlantic ocean, bounded by nature, kempt and unkempt, makes for a beautiful and intoxicating experience.

GM Verdict

One half of a terrific golfing double act, Ballyliffin Old Links is an excellent course that has more variety than most links and is enormous fun no matter how you play

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.