Rossmore Golf Club Course Review

Rossmore Golf Club's rollercoaster ride serves up big downhill drives, old stone walls, streams and views up into Northern Ireland

Rossmore Golf Club - 14th hole
Looking back down the 14th hole from behind the green
(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Rossmore Golf Club Course Review

GF €35-€40
Par 71, 5,962 metres
Slope 119
GM Verdict – A tranquil country rollercoaster with ample adventure.
Favourite Hole – The par-4 2nd launches downhill with a tight landing area and danger everywhere.

Rossmore is the perfect example of a golf course set in wild Irish countryside. It can be found in in Co. Monaghan where Concra Wood is perhaps the star attraction - one of Ireland's most visually dramatic 21st century creations designed by Christy O'Connor Jnr and his namesake uncle. Big, rolling drumlins plunge in different directions and there are many elevation changes. Golf has been played on this same site since the club was first founded in 1916, and, given the heaving terrain and the lack of battery-powered trolleys until the late 1970s, there must have been some tired golfers at the end of the day. The club added a second nine in 1992, but it was a compact site and the layout was changed further, in 2011, when new land was purchased. Two new holes were added by Mel Flanagan (see also Rathcore Golf Club) which enabled the removal of a couple of congestion areas. 

Today’s course promises a round of free-flowing adventure. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the double-dipping par-5 1st. The drumlins (defined as low oval mounds or small hills of compacted boulder clay formed by past glacial action) are used to full effect and as you play that opening hole you rise and fall like an ocean swell. Throw in some old stone walls, some big downhill drives, sweeping doglegs, lakes and streams, and a viewpoint on the 16th tee from where you can see into Northern Ireland, and you know you’re playing something that will fire your adrenaline. That viewpoint even has a map showing the geographical features you are peering at. And then the course plunges downhill yet again.

Like so many hidden gems, Rossmore has evolved quietly. There is no big designer name to lure visitors and the design itself favours simplicity. That’s country golf for you. It is the exuberance and routing of the holes themselves that make a course what it is. Rossmore is a big driving course and those changes in elevation just highlight the thrill of hitting hard at distant countryside. The 11th is a right-to-left dogleg on the edge of the course. It drops sharply from the tee and doglegs left and out of sight. There is nothing more tempting for a golfer with a draw.

The big challenge here is coping with the shifting slopes and changes in elevation. Greens are usually above or below you and there’s no great trickery to them… the trick, however, is to find them through the doglegs. The par-4 15th is 380 yards. It is a hard left-to-right dogleg, climbing a gentle hillside to a green at the top. Find the fairway and the ball will be below your feet for the approach. It is Index 2 and it has not one bunker. Indeed, bunkering at Rossmore is reserved for the greens which makes life a little easier… but there’s a stream here that crosses six holes so don’t breathe too easily.

Kevin Markham
Kevin Markham

Kevin Markham stepped into a campervan in 2007, and spent the next 14 months playing every 18-hole golf course in Ireland… 360 of them. He wrote two books on the back of those travels and has been working in the golf industry ever since, both as a freelance writer and a photographer. His love of golf courses has seen him playing extensively in Scotland, as well as across Europe. In total, he has played over 550 courses including most of Scotland’s top 100, and over half of Portugal’s growing number. He writes for the Irish Examiner newspaper, Irish Golfer magazine, and Destination Golf, and is a regular contributor to Golf Monthly. He has his own photography website – kevinmarkhamphotography.com – and spends hours on golf courses waiting to capture the perfect sunrise or sunset.

Kevin can be contacted via Twitter - @kevinmarkham