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Arklow Golf Links
GF: 40 STATS: par 69, 6,387 yards T: 00353 402 32492 W: arklowgolflinks.com (opens in new tab)
Forty miles to the south of Dublin, Arklow Golf Links celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2007. It’s a traditional links designed by Hawtree and Taylor although Eddie Hackett and Eddie Connaughton have added their touches over the years. This is a testing course with punishing rough, deep bunkers and challenging undulations.
Laytown & Bettystown
GF: £50 STATS: par 71, sss 71, 6,411 yards T: 00353 41 9827170 W: landb.ie (opens in new tab)
This intriguing east-coast Irish links lies just 30 minutes from Dublin close to the Boyne Valley Heritage site, and celebrates its centenary this year. It plays over a narrow strip of pure linksland, starting life as a modest four-holer, the brainchild of one Tom Gilroy, a +4 handicap Scotsman playing out of Royal Dublin. The number of holes gradually grew, eventually reaching 18 in 1917. The start may be slightly quirky, but the course soon settles down into an enjoyable challenge. Among its claims to fame, it can boast two members who have won its Captain’s Prize and then gone on to play in the Ryder Cup – namely Des Smyth and Philip Walton.
GF: £40 STATS: par 69, 6,206 yards T: 00353 719168188 W: strandhillgc.com (opens in new tab)
Eddie Hackett was responsible for extending the course here to 18 holes in 1973. Founded in 1931, and enclosed by Knocknarea or ‘Moon Mountain’, Sligo Bay and towering sand dunes, Strandhill is in an incredible setting. Christy O’Connor Senior described the course as “The hidden jewel of the West.”
Narin and Portnoo
GF: £50 STATS: par 73, 6,856 yards T: 00353 74 9545107 W: narinportnoogolfclub.ie (opens in new tab)
Narin and Portnoo Golf Club began life in 1930 though golf has been played in this part of southwest Donegal since 1899. Changes to the course here have transformed it from a lively links with a par 69 (with six par 3s) into a tough and long par 73. Some of the new holes are excellent with two completely new par 5s cutting through the sand hills. The views are incredible with many holes playing right along the Portnoo strand. The terrain and experience here is pure links with sandy lies, the sound and smell of the sea and the wind.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
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