The County Donegal links is the Republic of Ireland's most northerly golf club and hosts the Irish Open this week

Playing The Irish Open Venue Ballyliffin Glashedy

On a recent trip to Donegal, Ireland, I was lucky enough to get the chance to play this week’s Irish Open venue – Ballyliffin’s Glashedy Course.

Europe and the world’s best tackle the Glashedy links this week as part of the pre-Open schedule and having played the links myself, I think that this year’s tournament is going to be special.

The Irish Open was made a Rolex Series event in 2017 and attracted the European Tour’s elite including Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and eventual winner Jon Rahm. Hideki Matsuyama was also in the field at Portstewart.

The course, which gets its name from the Glashedy Rock seen out in sea, is a classic links and the main attraction at the Republic of Ireland’s most northerly golf club. There’s also the Old Links which is also highly regarded and an easier walk.

The Glashedy boasts 96 bunkers, with more added in for this year’s tournament, and to score well you need to stay out of them.

Pick the wrong club, get too aggressive, make a bad swing or a mental error and a birdie opportunity can turn into a double bogey before you know it.

It is a par 72 with just three short holes and they’re all are stunners.

The par-4 1st, which is short in length but is flanked by pot bunkers that must be avoided off the tee

The first par-3 comes at the fifth, just after a dogleg-right, downhill par-5 which has just been lengthened a whopping 120 yards for the European Tour boys.

The fifth is no more than a six iron in calm conditions but, just like the rest of the course, bunkers are prominent.

It plays slightly downhill and out to the Atlantic, with dunes lining either side.

The sixth is a superb dogleg-right, where I made a blob after finding two bunkers. The hole, as I found out, requires a sound strategy – the Glashedy is a real thinker’s course.

The 6th hole

Following the sixth comes the signature hole at the par-3 7th which plays from the course’s highest point right down to near-sea level with water to the right.

The views from the tee box are breathtaking and it’s got to be one of the UK and Ireland’s finest par-3’s.

Another favourite of mine is the par-5 13th hole which plays gently uphill and is lined by dunes each side the whole way. It’s a brute of a par-5 but memorable and will go down as one of my favourite holes, not just on the course but anywhere.

Following that is the final par-3 and it’s another fantastic downhiller.

The par-3 14th with the Glashedy Rock seen

Playing directly towards the ocean, the 14th has a massive green but a massive bunker as well. Anything short-right will find it and even the world’s best would probably accept a bogey if their ball comes to rest in it.

The final par-5 at 17 offers a late birdie chance. It measures over 560 yards and could well decide the tournament.

The closing hole is a dogleg-right par-4 18th and is short but must be respected. For most players it will be a long iron to the corner and a wedge to the green.

The final two holes both offer birdie chances and will surely make for a great finish to this week’s tournament.

Overall, the Glashedy is just a whirlwind ride where a score can be made if your ball is kept in the right place yet destroyed if you don’t have it under control.

It’s links golf at its best, I can’t wait for the tournament.

Where to stay:

Ballyliffin Lodge – ballyliffinlodge.com

Where else to play:

Rosapenna Sandy Hills Course – rosapenna.ie