Rob Smith takes the long and winding road to the spectacular and remote Connemara Golf Club
Connemara Golf Club Course Review
As remote and unlikely as almost any course in Ireland, Connemara rewards the explorer with plenty of fine golf…
Head to over to Ireland’s glorious west coast, keep driving until you think it can’t be much further, then keep driving some distance more. Eventually, you will arrive at the what appears to be the moon, but is in fact a fabulously remote and different golf course.
There are three loops of nine at Connemara Golf Club, and it is generally the A and B nines that are considered to be the championship course with the shorter C loop also offering plenty of fun. It was designed by Eddie Hackett who has a number of entries in the Golf Monthly Top 100 and opens with two tough par 4s, the first of which is a tricky, right to left dogleg.
There is some relief at the short third, at which point you are at the easterly edge of the links.
The next four holes head down towards the beach and back up again, before you reach the demanding eighth which the club describes as a par four and a half! Wherever you are on the course, wind is likely to be a significant feature.
There is a chance for respite back at the clubhouse after the ninth before you tackle the even more dramatic back nine. According to golfing legend Tom Watson, “The elevated greens on the back nine are spectacular.”
The next three are all good holes before you arrive at my favourite, the short thirteenth. 200 yards from the medal tee, it can be almost any club depending on the strength and direction of the wind.
On the fourteenth tee, it is easy to see why so many people describe this as a lunar landscape as the rocky outcrops seem to dominate the landscape.
There is a particularly tough finish, with the sixteenth a dogleg to the left that is protected by a burn and bunkers.
The closing two holes are both par 5s but run in opposite directions so that one will usually be substantially more difficult than the other.
There is a wonderful feeling of space at Connemara, and although it may be longer than the road to Tipperary, it is a journey well worth making. At least you are unlikely to have to travel quite so far as these two…
I would be very happy to return to Connemara, to spend longer playing all three loops and to explore the beautiful and rugged Galway coastline. Irish golf unquestionably has enormous strength in depth.
For those who place high value on the scenery and setting of their golf, this coastline is a massive draw.
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Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 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 1,200 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during that 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 seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! During the 2021-22 review period, Rob played 36 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 email@example.com.
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