The course and original clubhouse on the scenic Murvagh Peninsula, with the Atlantic on one side and Donegal Bay on the other, was opened in 1976, after a few years of design and construction by the legendary Eddie Hackett. Twenty years later the course was upgraded by another famous Irish golf architect, Pat Ruddy. At the same time a new modern clubhouse was built.
Many of Pat Ruddy’s changes was to modernize the course to take on new golf balls and better equipment. He put in new tees to lengthen the course, and also added some bunkers to make the course a stiff challenge even for the very best.
Since then the course has hosted several major Irish championships and challenged rising stars like the then 14 year old Rory McIlroy, and continues to do so.
Unlike traditional links, the Murvagh course has two nine hole loops that both finish at the clubhouse. The second nine is innovatively built inside the outer front nine.
The course starts with some rather flat and really not too interesting inland holes, but on the fifth you enter the dunes. A challenging par three with a raised green, well bunkered and enclosed in the dunes, this hole gives you a taste of what’s to come.
And what comes are some truly spectacular holes, running along the beach of the Atlantic. Here you are navigating the dunes, with hills and bumps and slopes taking you for a thrilling ride. You ride ends at the par 5 eight hole, which features a huge depression in front of the green for you to navigate with your approach. Several alternate routes are possible here, providing for even more excitement.
The second nine are more inland than the front nine, but still played mostly in the dunes. The course is long at over 6700 meters from the back and almost 6200 from the club tees, and on the back you get some of the very long holes, including the tough par five 12th. To add insult to injury, this was one of the holes that Pat Ruddy “strengthened” with strong green bunkering and strategic fairway bunkers in the landing areas.
The 16th hole is a monster par three from the back tees, at 250 yards. With a bit of wind against, and well protected green, this is certainly one of the more serious challenges on the course.
The course ends with the par four 18th, much more approachable these days, after Pat Ruddy cut through the sand dune that made the tee shot blind. In return, he added a nasty bunker in the middle of the landing area. A worthy ending to a great course.
Donegal Golf Club
Course design & layout9.0/10
Greens design & layout9.5/10
Club house and facilities8.5/10
Value for money8.5/10
- Fantastic location
- Excellent greens
- One of the longest links in Ireland
- Modern, full service club house
- Tough for short hitters