Lahinch (Old), Ireland
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Lahinch Golf Club
County Clare
ArchitectOld Tom Morris, Charles Gibson, Dr Alister MacKenzie, Martin Hawtree
Head Professional/Director of GolfRobert McCavery
Telephone+353 (0) 65 7081003
Location32 miles NW of Shannon airport
Websites Golf Club Website
VisitorsContact in advance
Club Secretary/ ManagerPaddy Keane

Visit 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 clubhousetake your umbrellayou are in for a wet round.

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Average Reviewers Score:       
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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.
09 October 2015 See other reviews from this reviewer
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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.
21 October 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
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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.
12 May 2014 See other reviews from this reviewer
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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.
26 June 2013 See other reviews from this reviewer
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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.
01 June 2012 See other reviews from this reviewer
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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.
30 May 2012 See other reviews from this reviewer
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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 :(
28 May 2012 See other reviews from this reviewer
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john03 November 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
When an expert speaks, people listen… even closer when two talk. After designing Lahinch, the era's master Architect, Old Tom Morris, boldly declared, "I consider the links as fine a natural course as it's ever been my good fortune to play over." This adoration – which introduced Lahinch, gave it worldwide recognition, and has defined it since – wasn't alone. After renovations in 1927 another architectural expert, Dr. Alistair MacKenzie, lauded it: "Lahinch will make the finest, most popular course that I or anyone ever constructed," echoing his predecessor. In 1892 Limerick's Black Watch Regiment discovered enormous sand hills, massive dunes, envious topsy-turvy, Atlantic Oceanside linksland along Ireland's West coast that became Lahinch Golf Club.

Quintessentially, epitomizing links golf, this setting – breathtaking and so enchanting it seems fairytale-like – is however, double-edged: Helplessly exposed, it's defenceless against the often typical brutal conditions. Lahinch is a shot-maker's haven: Creativity and innovation offset awkward stances/side-hill lies; Discipline, patience, and perseverance combat heather, gorse, relentless wind, and inevitable bad bounces/breaks. With intimidating, "hold-your-breath" tee shots (3, 7), ingenious bunker placement (labelled MacKenzie's best), and several blind shots (some world-renowned), Lahinch's options force golfer to think/strategize. Futile and often disastrous, the "Grip it and rip it" philosophy isn't recommended.

Blessed with natural, distinct, and tremendously varying green sites: steep fall-offs (1), along ridges (9), against stone-wall boundaries (18), atop chasms (3) and plateaus (10, 15), maddeningly three-tiered (13), and impossibly nestled between two giant protruding dunes (14), Ireland's annual South Amateur site presents a challenging environment.

Nevertheless, it was modernized/toughened in 2001 by Martin Hawtree, resulting in a "restored MacKenzie course." Lahinch's driveable par 4 (13), reachable par 5's (2,4, 12), and shoreline-hugging, seaside holes (2, 3, 6, 8) make for "fun, exciting" Golf. Dog-legging left and right, holes climb uphill and tumble downhill, over ravines and hillocks, through valleys and hollows, around knolls and hummocks-enhancing this fun and creating a magical Golf excursion. With shots somewhat extinct nowadays... i.e. over Klondyke (4th) – the huge dune interrupting approach shots. The Dell (5th) – a baffling, one-of-a-kind, retro, blind par 3, the 7th drive (over previous green), and the aforementioned 14, Lahinch is a trip back in time, a link to the past, a glimpse of bygone days. Is there a bell golfers ring? No, better – a human, greeting and ensuring golfer's safety while directing "traffic" at the criss-crossing intersection on 5 and 18! (Pinching oneself remedies the "Wake me I must be dreaming" prevalent feeling).

The minimal proximity between clubhouse and first tee means a "most scrutinized swing" and "opening tee shot." Further, engaging quirks include a shared fairway (14 and 15), visible castle-ruins, a hole using two separate greens (11), and goats (Club's logo) acting as barometers (roaming course in good weather, seeking shelter when bad is coming. It’s this oddity that fascinates, educationally mesmerizes us, and puts Lahinch in its own class.

So much more than just a game – here Golf is a way of life! (Sundays the course doubles as a dog park for locals). Eye opening, this interconnectedness is irresistibly enamouring. For students of the game the experience is peerless. Like visiting an old well-kept museum/shrine it thrills while seducing, and tingles the spine while changing the golfer's life. There's only one Lahinch and this timeless design oozing character, while simultaneously disparaging today’s length factor, continues to captivate golfer after golfer. The experts were right. Beau Kazzi
17 July 2010 See other reviews from this reviewer
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Played Lahinch with a group of 8 in 2007 and believe that it is one of the most interesting layouts you will ever play. It basically sits in the middle of town heading North and then back again. On the first few holes, town pedestrians are walking on sidewalks just to the right of the fairway (in some cases just a few yards from where you are playing shots). Loved the 2nd par 5 on the front, where you hit Driver up the hill (with a slight fade) and then a blind approach over the 30 foot hill in the middle of the fairway to the green. Quirky but interesting. The next hole, a par 3, is also a blind shot with the same hill coming into play. We heard stories that kids would sit behind the hill and anything that came close to the hole would be placed into the hole for a "hole in 1". I/We really felt that the course was magical and that the service was second to none.
23 January 2010 See other reviews from this reviewer
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Played it in the inevitable gale with two old friends from the R.A.F. We all loved it but were not so keen on the number of Americans around the place!Very difficult but rewarding and the greens were sublime if tricky. My chums were allowed to take their Labradors on who also seemed to enjoy it!! Hospitality was fantastic we drank Bushmills into the early hours then collapsed extremely happy with the days events!!
13 October 2009 See other reviews from this reviewer
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joe17 May 2011
If it were not for Americans, the course would now be run by Germans...or have you forgotten?
Paddy21 June 2012
Joe - is that honestly what they teach you over there....? I suppose you also believe that Americans built the Pyramids, Colliseum and Great Wall of China!
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