EVERY NOW AND THEN, if one is very lucky, it is possible to find a terrific golf course that has slipped under the international golf traveller’s radar. Somewhere that will offer superb golf in a splendid setting whilst providing a warm welcome and excellent hospitality in the club house; and where it will not take you five hours to get round. Sligo Golf Club, on the windswept Rosses Point peninsula, is just such a place.
It is a strange fact that when it comes to playing golf in Ireland the bulk of American tourists only pick the most expensive courses believing that anything under €100 cannot be worth playing, and with Sligo standing at a rack rate of €95, and cheaper for society deals, you don’t hear many wild hoots or hollers from the sons of Uncle Sam whilst out on the course, and what a course it is.
The views are every bit as dramatic as Turnberry on the West Coast of Scotland, although with the giant flat-topped mountain of Benbulben at one end of the course and a lighthouse braving the Atlantic at the other Sligo possibly shades it.
It started out life as a nine hole course and opened for play in 1894 with architect George Combe the creator of golf’s first handicap system in 1896. The course was extended and remodelled by legendary course designer Harry Colt in 1927.
This is links golf at its very best with narrow fairways, small firm greens with slippery run offs and a perpetually changing wind direction than can play havoc with a scorecard. There are fine views everywhere, but the run of holes from 11 through until 17 where one climbs steeply back up hill on a fiendish left hand dog-leg, are truly magnificent. For older golfers or visitors aiming to play a lot of golf a buggy makes sound sense at Sligo.
Having finally reached the par four 18th where one plays blind over a marker to a fairway that seems no more than the width of a country lane the most welcoming clubhouse is immediately at hand to the left.
Here one receives not only a first class welcome but equally first class food, be it a light snack or a full three-course meal, as well as a chance to savour the creamy porter that never tastes as good as it does in Ireland, a pint of delicious Guinness.
With Aer Lingus flights from London Gatwick running regularly to Knock airport there is some great golf to be had on Ireland’s wild west coast and none better or more dramatic than the place the locals refer to as Rosses Point, but prefers to be known simply as Sligo Golf Club.