Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
To mark the occasion, we’re bringing you exclusive photography of something as rare as a four-leaf clover: a new links course in Ireland — and the first design on the Emerald Isle by the noted architect Tom Doak.
Built as an amenity to Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in County Donegal, aptly named St. Patrick’s Links, which is slated to open this summer, spills through rollicking dunes on a seaside swatch that was home to 36 dormant holes. Rather than try to revive two courses, Doak instead opted to rework the land into the finest 18 holes that he could muster.
The ample canvas gave the architect the liberty to craft what he describes as a routing that “roams freely,” moving from outsize sandy blowouts on the property’s eastern boundary to dramatic acreage along the edge of Sheephaven Bay. Splendid scenery awaits throughout, but perhaps nowhere more so than between the 15th green and 16th tee, which Doak says will offer “some of the grandest views in the game.”
“The property is more than 270 acres, dominated by a large hill in the center that rises more than 100 feet above the bay,” Doak added. “One of the tricks to the routing was to get up there to enjoy the view without building any inferior holes on the way to the top.”
New courses are hard to come by almost anywhere. They are especially scarce in Ireland, where Doak had long yearned to take on a project. The opportunity at Rosapenna has brought him to a remote area at the top of the island, west of Northern Ireland, that is widely recognized for its untamed beauty.
“The opportunity to build a seaside course in Europe is almost impossible to come by now,” Doak said. “But St. Patrick’s is the next best thing: a total redesign.”
St. Patrick’s Links will join an existing 36 holes at Rosapenna Hotel, a 2003 links designed by the Irish architect Pat Ruddy, and the Old Tom Morris Links, designed in 1893 by Old Tom himself. It promises to become yet another must-play for golfers on trips to other courses in the vicinity, including Ballyliffin and Port Salon, or other headliners within a few hours’ drive, including Royal County Down and Royal Portrush.
Scroll here to continue your tour of St. Patrick’s Links: