To reach Ballyliffin Golf Club, you’ll need to head about as far north as you can go in Ireland. This is Ireland’s most northerly golf club, located about a 40 minute-drive from Derry City and two hours from Belfast.
Like the similarly named Ballybunion, Ballyliffin is home to two 18-hole links courses, hence the nickname, “Ballybunion of the North.” Though the club was founded in 1947, Ballyliffin’s first course, known as the Old Links, wasn’t fully completed until 1973.
Ballyliffin’s second course opened in 1995. Named the Glashedy Links after the rock formation found both off the coast and in the club’s crest, this course has been hailed by Links Magazine as what “may be the best new links course to have been built this century.” It was designed by Pat Ruddy with help from his partner, former Walker Cup player Tom Craddock.
Each of Glashedy’s holes is more challenging than the last, but that hasn’t stopped a new course record from being set every few years. Jean-Francois Lucquin set a record of 67 in 2002, which was subsequently beaten by Rory McIlroy’s record of 66 in 2006. The course record now stands at 65, set by the trio of Erik van Rooyen, Andy Sullivan, and Jorge Campillo at the 2018 Irish Open.
If you have hopes of approaching the course record during your visit to Ballyliffin Golf Club’s Glashedy Links, watch out for the fifth hole. The first of Glashedy’s par threes, this hole tests your accuracy to the fullest. Deep bunkers ring the green, simultaneously showing you where to go and attempting to keep you from getting there.