Carne Golf Links, Belmullet
‘I wouldn’t start from here’ is the apochryphal Irish response when you ask for directions. And the same can be said for Belmullet. It is a way from anywhere but the journey is the thing; you get to appreciate some rugged Irish scenery, perceive the harshness of life lived in this landscape, it’s raw beauty and the history.
The club had two quite different nines but now has three loops of nine, the latest of which matches the back nine to make 18 dramatic holes through mountainous dunes. We did not play the Kilmore but glimpsed wraiths of golfing glory swirling between the dunes. The Rothschild dictum is ‘Always leave something in the price for the next man’ and I am leaving those nine for my next visit. Not least so I have to go back.
The opening nine are more traditional in feel with classically designed holes and what passes for a hilly links in England but is pretty flat for these parts. A range of testing par 3s and awkward par 4s. This nine is more open even though wayward shots are no easier to rescue.
The back nine ramps up the drama amid mythical dunes and nary a level fairway for most are canted at an adverse camber to test your resolve. But the course is never unfair. The seaward views are magnificent and the eye is drawn to bleached bone white sandy coves and brilliant blue waters. Do not be distracted because these holes curl tortuously to deceptive greens in golfing tongue twisters. You will have more fun with match play than stroke play!
The pressure cranks up again on the splendid 17th, stroke index one, before the bar gathers you in at 18. The boy Hackett can certainly build a golf course. Wherever you are going in Ireland this is a good place to start from.
Seagulls view 30/36
Greens & Bunkers 13/18
Links experience 15/18