Ballyliffin Golf Club - Old Links

Ballyliffin, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Of the two courses at Ballyliffin Golf Club, it’s the Glashedy Links that gets most of the attention. After all, it’s newer, was famously designed by Pat Ruddy, and typically ranks higher than the Old Links, its older, oft-overlooked counterpart. This is unfortunate, since the Old Links has plenty to offer interested golfers.

What sets Ballyliffin’s Old Links apart from Glashedy is that it’s unabashedly old-fashioned. What started out as a relatively unremarkable nine-hole links course has over time become a favorite among purists.

One such purist is Nick Faldo, who first played the course in 1993 for some quiet practice before the Irish Open. Faldo was “spellbound” after just one round, calling it “one of the most natural courses” he had ever played. He would go on to renovate the course just over a decade later in 2004.

Faldo’s renovation of the Old Links included the addition of revetted bunkers and “Faldo” tees, as well as enlarging a couple of the greens. One part of the Old Links left largely untouched by Faldo however, is the course’s memorable fifth hole.

Dubbed “The Tank,” the topography of this hole has been likened to a “little volcano” by Guy Hockley, the chief architect for Nick Faldo Design. It features an intimidating tee shot to a green that sits atop a hill, surrounded by dunes. Add wind to the mix, and this little volcano can turn into a big problem for your scorecard. A shot that falls short can roll 50 yards or more back down the slope!