Strandhill Golf Club Course Review

Strandhill Golf Club on the west coast of Ireland in Co. Sligo boasts an entertaining links course with a wonderful difference

Strandhill Golf Club - 6th hole
The approach to the 6th hole at Strandhill in Co. Sligo
(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Strandhill Golf Club Course Review

GF €30-€100
Par 70, 6,088 yards
Slope 123
GM Verdict – A links of crumpled, natural and joyful unpredictability.
Favourite Hole – For sheer amusement and bafflement, the par-4 13th steals the show.

Strandhill Golf Cub - 2nd green

Looking over the 2nd green to the sand bar beyond

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Strandhill in Co. Sligo is Ireland’s quirkiest 18-hole links. It is also one of its most scenic and entertaining. It lies across the bay from one of the best golf courses in Ireland - the renowned links at County Sligo Golf Club also known as Rosses Point - and under the gaze of  Knocknarea Mountain. While it never receives the same plaudits as its neighbour it does offer something very different… and for a considerably cheaper green fee. Here, the sea crashes in on two sides. Horses race over the sand to the south, while large waves have turned the water to the west into a surfer’s paradise. Teeing off on the par-4 7th next to surfers riding the crashing waves is a unique experience.

Strandhill Golf Club - 14th green

The 14th green nestling in the dunes

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

The course has received some important upgrades in recent years – by Ally McIntosh, who designed the new nine at Carne Golf Links – but the layout is the same. Holes change shape and style so frequently that you are constantly left guessing what comes next. Some are off the charts for sheer fun and adventure. There are ‘traditional’ links holes here and then there are holes that defy belief… either because of exuberant terrain (holes 5 and 15) or because there’s no way a hole should be designed like that (the outrageous par-4 13th). It doesn’t matter because it’s all good and the sense of wild abandon is infectious.

Strandhill Golf Club - 15th hole

The links terrain is at its most 'exuberant' on holes like the 15th

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

There is a central peak to the course (hosting the 13th tee and 15th green) and from here holes slide inevitably down towards the beaches and waves. You play beside the sea on two occasions – on holes 2, 3 and 4, and then 7 – although the sounds of the waves follow you wherever you go.

Strandhill Golf Club - 5th hole

The 5th boasts a gloriously rumpled fairway and one of the most natural greens around

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Playing here requires all of your skills thanks to the variety of holes and the natural green sites. The par-5 5th may possess a fairway that falls somewhere between bubble wrap and a rolling ocean but it also boasts one of the most natural and seductive greens in the country. There are others, too, and the quality is top-notch. As for Ireland’s quirkiest hole, the 370-yard 13th drives blindly down into a swell of dunes before your approach shot must find the smallest and most inaccessible green you’ll ever play.

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