Lahinch (Old) - Clare - Ireland

Lahinch Golf Club,
Lahinch,
County Clare,
Ireland


  • +353 (0) 65 7081003

  • Paddy Keane

  • Old Tom Morris, Charles Gibson, Dr Alister MacKenzie, Martin Hawtree

  • Robert McCavery


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Lahinch (Old)

Lahinch is derived from the old Irish name Leithinsi, a half island. The village dates back to the 18th century and grew in popularity thanks to George I, who believed that eating periwinkles and sea-grass was healthy.

Golf at Lahinch dates back to 1892. Three local Limerick golfers laid out an 18-hole course, assisted by officers of the Scottish “Black Watch” regiment who were stationed in Limerick at that time. In 1894, Old Tom Morris was commissioned to make improvements to the layout and he made excellent use of the natural terrain, especially the giant sand dunes. Old Tom believed that Lahinch was the finest natural course that he had seen.

In the mid 1890s, the West Clare Railway made the town more accessible and consequently, people flocked to Lahinch to stay at the new Golf Links Hotel. The whole town lives and breathes golf. Bernard Darwin wrote the following in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, published in 1910: “The greatest compliment I have heard paid to Lahinch came from a very fine amateur golfer, who told me that it might not be the best golf in the world, but was the golf he liked to play best. Lest this may be attributed to patriotic prejudice, I may add that he was an Englishman born and bred.”

In 1927, Dr Alister MacKenzie redesigned the course, relocating a number of holes closer to the bay. The redesign work took one year to complete and featured undulating triple tiered greens. MacKenzie was pleased with his work and said: “It will make the finest and most popular course that I, or I believe anyone else, ever constructed”.

Unfortunately, in 1935, the same time that MacKenzie was designing Augusta with Bobby Jones, the Lahinch committee decided that his greens were too tough for the average golfer. John Burke was granted the remit to flatten them out. Happily, in 1999, Martin Hawtree knowledgably reinstated MacKenzie’s characteristics, completing Lahinch’s restoration.

Lahinch is an enchanting place to play golf. It’s rugged, distinctive, unusually varied and immensely entertaining. It’s a traditional out and back layout, situated next to the lovely beach of Liscannor Bay.

Each September, Lahinch hosts the South of Ireland Championship, an annual occurrence since 1895. The “South” is a matchplay competition, which attracts many spectators and some great amateur golfers, although it is unlikely that anybody will beat John Burke’s record. The “King of Lahinch” was the South of Ireland champion 11 times between 1928 and 1946.

Views across the bay from the 3rd are uplifting. This 446-yard par four, has a blind drive to a hidden fairway and the approach to the green is obscured by a hill on the right. The 4th is a short par five named Klondyke. It's one of the most unusual holes in golf and an Old Tom speciality. The tee shot needs to find a narrow rippled fairway located in a valley between dunes. A blind second shot then has to negotiate Klondyke, a towering sand dune that straddles the fairway some 200 yards away from the green. It's certainly a quirky hole but it's also very memorable.

What's the best way to follow such an eccentric hole? Why, another highly peculiar one, naturally! Left untouched since Old Tom Morris first fashioned it over a century ago, Dell is the renowned blind par three 5th, its green nestling between towering sand hills that surround the narrow green on all sides. A stone on top of one of the dunes indicates the hole location from the tee so golfers are advised to factor in the wind direction, pick the right club for the yardage then take aim for the hidden flag. 

The Old course at Lahinch is an absolute gem. Take note of where the goats are. If they are sheltering near the clubhouse—take your umbrella—you are in for a wet round.

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Reviews for Lahinch (Old)

Av. Reviewers Score:

Lahinch is the antithesis of an American-style parkland course, wide open with sweeping views and hummocks with blind shots and sand dunes galore. The blind par three “Dell” hole is a favorite with a green set among a host of sand dunes. I have played Lahinch three times, with rain coming down each time; would love to actually play it with the sun shining one day. Lahinch is a quirky, old-school place to enjoy the game. The fourth, fifth and eighteenth fairways literally crisscross. Talk about hazards in front of the green? How about the fourth hole named "Klondyke". It has a fifty-foot sand dune in front of the green, making it a blind approach on a 400+ yard hole! The narrow fairway snakes through the dunes. Lahinch is pure links golf and a fun golf course to play.

John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs

November 21, 2016


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50 miles north of Ballybunion lies its perennial competitor for best in Ireland and with the recent opening of a nifty short game area Lahinch has upped the ante another notch. The pedigree from Old Tom Morris to Alister MacKenzie has always been epic anyway and the club is doing a good job preserving their original design intent. The beautifully anachronistic Klondyke and Dell holes with their blindness and crossing fairways are mitigated by professional spotters manning the dunes and directing play. Click the link to read more… Ireland – any decent golf on the West Coast?

October 12, 2016


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This is one of Ireland’s great courses- opening up with a good start that improves gradually as you progress all the way around through to the final stretch. The scenery blends well with each hole and the course will test the golfer’s ability to play a variety of shots. There are some semi-blind holes that a player in good form should naturally be on the right track. The keen golfer will discern the correct approach to each green or will remember not to come in from the wrong side if they play it again. This is a hitters and shot maker’s course extremely enjoyable to play and deserves the top 5 ranking in Ireland. Atlantic storms in 2014 washed away one of the better par five fairways but it has recovered somewhat now and is playable again.
March 31, 2016


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Lahinch….What a grand place. Very welcoming. A course which offers all you expect with a world ranked links course. Diverse holes. Some blind shots. Tight fairways. Undulating greens. This round was the first time I played here where I didn’t encounter a goat…Ha. Playing Lahinch is mandatory on any SW Irish excursion. Either at the beginning or the end of your trip. Along with Ballybunion they create a special rivalry of sorts. Which is the best of SW Ireland…It’s a close call and too close to call. Each and every hole here is outstanding except the finisher. The first appears tame but the card rarely agrees. Each hole presents an outstanding design and fits to the array of options. Short 4’s, Long, Tough, Blind, Some great views and a great course..Ya gotta go.
October 09, 2015


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Played the course from fairway mats in March. In spite of that, it was still a marvellous experience, as the course is great. The stretch of holes from no. 3 to 8 is particularly memorable. The only reason why I cannot give it a perfect score is that the last two holes are fairly average which results in an anti-climatic finish (in contrast to other great links courses such as Carnoustie, Waterville or European, which, in my view, have no weak holes). It would have been better if the (comparatively) weaker holes were played earlier (like the 4th and 5th at Ballybunion). Nevertheless Lahinch is definitely worth playing.
October 21, 2014


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Played Lahinch Old for the first time last October. Have played many links course in GB & Ireland (including Muirfield, St Andrews Old, Royal Dornoch, Moray, Cruden Bay, Machrihanish, Hillside, S&A, Royal Cinque Ports, St Enodoc, Royal Portrush-Dunluce, Portmarnock, Co. Sligo, Ballyliffin & Baltray) and Lahinch has gone to the top of my list. Just love playing in the dunes with several blind holes & great views although admittedly it's probably too challenging for me.
May 12, 2014


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This is a great golf course, well deserving of its high ranking. 6 handicap golfer that played in April 2013.No weak holes, with many truly memorable. The design is strong and natural.
June 26, 2013


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Absolutely outstanding course. Challenging layout with excellent greens, lots of memorable holes, great course condition, Klondyke and Dell holes quirky but absolutely playable and adding spice and history to this course. We also loved the setting in the middle of this lovely seaside town and next to a great beach. Very friendly staff and members. You can tell that this is a true and welcoming golf club. One guy in our group woke up with a bad stomach and could not play and the club was happy to reimburse the green fee. We ranked Lahinch top of our list of courses we played last week, ahead of Tralee, Ballybunion and Doonbeg (in that order). We will definitely be back and play at least a double round in Lahinch, this course is second to none and is at the same level as the best Scottish courses I have played so far like Carnoustie and the Ailsa.
June 01, 2012


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Played last week as part of a golf tour that included Ballybunion, Waterville and Tralee. Lahinch stood out head and shoulders above the others. Had the services of a wonderful caddie named Aaron, that made a huge difference to the enjoyment of the course. Greens and fairways in excellent condition, but the layout of the links was truly great. Anyone visiting this place must try to get in a second round, as it would be much more fun playing Lahinch the second time around. Will easily go back if given a chance. 6 ball rating for me.
May 30, 2012


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Played the course last week (23 May). The greens were in very poor condition - there are clearly problems with the 12th green. We should not really have been charged the full green fee. The course itself (as described so well below) is old fashioned with plenty of blind shots. Not entirely to my taste, but it will certainly keep you thinking...but not enough to forgive the very poor putting surfaces :(
May 28, 2012


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john
November 03, 2012
Played the old course over the june bank holiday weekend and the greens were in super condition apart from the 12th which i was told was a new green. Great course, well deserving of its rating