Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills: Course Review, Green Fees, Tee Times and Key Info

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills course is a tremendous modern links carved through impressive dunes. It’s challenging but fair – a real thinker’s course.

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills
The 2nd hole on the Sandy Hills course
(Image credit: Larry Lambrecht)

Top 100 Courses UK & Ireland 2023/24

(Image credit: Future)

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills Course Key Information

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1
AddressRosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort, Sheephaven Bay, Downings, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, F92 PN73
Phone Number00353 (0)74 915 5301
Green Fees€80 - €150
Visitor TimesAlways available - online discounts available for off-peak afternoon times
Slope Rating127 (Black), 121 (Blue), 117 (White)
Designed byPat Ruddy
Golf Monthly Verdict


(Image credit: Larry Lambrecht)

A very natural and evenly flowing course in a stunning location.

The course is set in an amazing area of sand dunes that stretches for miles. It has to be one of the most natural links courses in the world. It is pure links golf which is both challenging and thrilling at the same time. There’s great variety to be found and it's a firm but fair test of golf.

It’s a course of nuances and subtlety with green complexes featuring some challenging slopes and falloffs.


– Hugely striking setting

– Impressive example of modern course design

– Fascinating mix of holes requiring careful thought and a strategic approach


UK & Ireland Top 100 Golf Courses 2023/24 - 44

It’s hard to believe the Sandy Hills Links is less than 20 years old, the Pat Ruddy design opened in just 2003. Carved through the dunes, this superb layout has quickly earned a reputation as one of the best golf courses in Ireland.

From the outset, the challenge of this tricky course is evident – you must find the fairways. Dunes wait right from the tee on 1, with a fall-away to the left. Although it’s a short par-5 on paper, precision from the tee, on approach and, likely, on the third shot are key.

The slopes and speed of the greens on the Sandy Hills Links are quite a feature and a deft short game and touch is essential if you’re to negotiate the testing green complexes.

There are some very difficult shots to be faced on the Sandy Hills. On the par-3 7th, the tee shot is played downhill to a firm green with dramatic run offs right and long. On the par-5 8th, the approach is to a raised green where anything short will roll back some 40 yards.

But that’s not to say it’s unfair, carefully thought out and well played shots will be rewarded. This is a real thinkers’ links course and definitely one that’s fun to play, trying to master its nuances and subtleties.

On the run in there are some really excellent holes with standouts including the bunker-less par-4 15th and par-5 17th. The former dips and turns to the right before climbing again to a sheltered green.

The latter offers a birdie chance in prevailing winds but with significant slopes to a collection area right of the green, it’s a daunting approach and one that must be played with surety.

Sandy Hills is one of the great examples of course design from the last 25 years. It makes the very most of this dramatic coastal landscape, delivering a superb variety of unique, memorable and challenging golf holes.

It’s tough, there’s no question about that, but it’s fair and it’s hugely enjoyable.

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills Course Review

Overhead shot at Rosapenna

What The Top 100 Panel Said

Tim Browne UK&I Top 100 panel
Tim Browne

Sandy Hills remains as one of my favourite places to play golf in the whole world. The setting is fantastic and as a lover of links golf this course is so natural and wild in its beauty and challenge as a test of golf. Over the years the fairways have widened and the rough has become more playable. The setting along the beautiful Sheephaven Bay is wonderful  Some of the opening hols have magnificent views of the coastline and mountains across the bay. The view down the fairway to the 6th green is one of the nicest views that will see in Irish golf.

Top 100 Golf COurses UK and Ireland in association with Peter Millar
Gary Etherson

A huge step forward for Sandy Hills this time round. It is a course developed with the players in mind. The tight walkways are not designed with big crowds of pro events in mind. This is a personal golfing experience. You and your partners battling the course and the elements far away from civilisation. The more i play this course, the more i enjoy the test.

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills Course

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills Course Green Fees

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1st Apr - 22 Oct Visitor Green Fee€150
1st Apr - 22 Oct Visitor Green Fee (online - afternoon off peak only)€125
1st Apr - 22 Oct Replay Rate (same day)€100
1st Apr - 22 Oct Irish Resident Rate (round)€80

Rosapenna Sandy Hills Course Scorecard

Rosapenna Sandy Hills scorecard

(Image credit: Rosapenna)

Best Courses Near To Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills Course



Laid out on terrain occupied by two former courses, St Patrick’s is entirely reimagined. The design by one of the modern greats – Tom Doak and his team – shows just how big imagination can be. This is a vast rollercoaster adventure charging through deep dune valleys and soaring over more open, tumbling terrain.



One of two brilliant courses at Ballyliffin, this was designed by the great Pat Ruddy in the mid-1990s and hosted the 2018 Irish Open. Cleverly, it manages to combine the best of traditional links with a look and feel that is somehow modern. It’s a thrill from start to finish and features punishing bunkers and fast-running fairways.

For more Irish golfing gems, check out our guide to the very best golf courses in Ireland.

Best Places to Stay Near Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills Course

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort - Book Now
Staying at the resort, you're right there on site to hit the fairways. There are also packages available for hotel guests playing the golf courses. The views are superb and the accommodation and facilities are excellent. The food is of a very high standard.

Downings Bay Hotel - Book now at
Situated in Sheephaven Bay on the picturesque Atlantic Drive, this is a comfortable hotel serving locally sourced food in the restaurant and there's always a good atmosphere in the bar. Guests can also enjoy free access to the nearby local leisure centre. The leisure centre has a modern, fully equipped gym and a swimming pool

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills Course Gallery

Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort Sandy Hills Course Historical Top 100 Ranking UK&I

  • 2023/24 - 44
  • 2021/22 - 46
  • 2019/20 - 44
  • 2017/18 - 45
  • 2015/16 - 45
  • 2013/14 - 42
  • 2011/12 - 39
  • 2009/10 - 43

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Designed Rosapenna Golf Course?

The Sandy Hills Golf Course at Rosapenna was designed by Pat Ruddy. There are two more courses on the property, one designed by Old Tom Morris and the most recent - St Patrick's Link, designed by Tom Doak

Who Owns Rosapenna?

It's owned by the Casey family - brothers Frank Jr and John run the operations at the resort.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?