Another chapter in Rosapenna’s esteemed golfing history will be written this summer when the new Strand nine holes open to combine with the world-renowned 118 year old Valley nine, which plays along the spectacular Sheephaven Bay in Co Donegal.
The new holes which will be played as the front nine are routed through the low lying dunes to the east of the Sandy Hills Links and are fashioned much like the original Old Tom Morris Valley nine that runs along Tramore beach which will become the back loop.
Laid out by Pat Ruddy of the European Club these new holes, which have striking views across Mulroy Bay, have matured to a condition that will see them settle into the Old Tom Morris Links to provide a seamless connection between each nine.
The original back nine of the Old Links known as the “Coastguard holes” will be played as a nine hole course beginning and finishing at the practice ground.
Running to just under 7,000 yards off the championship markers the Strand and Valley nines are a testing combination of traditional and modern links holes which bridge a century of golf design influences.
The original links was laid out by the great Old Tom Morris of St. Andrews in 1891; he won a total of four Open Championships (1861, 1862, 1864 & 1867). Harry Vardon (six time Open Championship winner) and James Braid (five time Open Championship winner) both journeyed to Rosapenna in the early 1900s to add length and bunkering, wisely leaving Morris’s perfect greens intact.
This trio of links masters have no less than 15 Open Championship titles between them and they have all left their mark in the design of the original links.
The second course at Rosapenna, the Sandy Hills, opened for play in 2003 and is in many ways the ideal of a modern links. Intended for the serious golfer, its narrow fairways appear constricting from the tee but the landing areas sculpted from the dunes are deceptively wide.
Measuring a hefty 7,300 yards from the tips, Sandy Hills was designed with championship play in mind. However with a multiplicity of tees there is a length to suit all. Above all, the appeal of Sandy Hills lies in its beautifully balanced routing through the high dunes cloaked in marram grass. These sandhills bear a striking resemblance to the ones near the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland that form the spine of Royal Portrush and Portstewart. Many of the holes feature elevated tees and greens, with drives into natural bowls on the dune floor.
Rosapenna now boasts two 18 hole links courses and a nine hole academy course as well as the practice ground which has its own 12 hole par 3 course making it the largest golf complex in the region.
There is the Golf Pavilion which overlooks the two 18th greens which caters for members and daily visiting golfers and with a 72 bedroom four star hotel on site offering exclusive golf and accommodation packages golfers from all over the world are set to make this 45 hole links complex their number one golfing destination www.rosapenna.ie
Rosapenna is a member of the North & West Coast Links marketing group, which now consists of 12 Championship Links courses – Connemara, Carne, Enniscrone, Co. Sligo, Donegal, Narin & Portnoo, Rosapenna, Portsalon, Ballyliffin, Portstewart, Royal Portrush and Ardglass.
North & West Coast Links www.northandwestcoastlinks.com