FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Donegal Golf Club, Donegal County, Ireland

Oct 1, 2015
2015 / September 2015

The most common name in the Donegal phone book is Gallagher, so it was fitting that I found time to visit, staying at the beautiful Lough Eske Castle. It was equally important to hit the links while in Donegal to provide you with another golf report from around the world.

Donegal Golf Club was established in 1959 with the first golf course and clubhouse at Tullycullion just outside of Donegal Town. Some years later, the membership realized a fine parcel of land on the Murvagh Peninsula was more suitable for the links-style course they required. They hired Eddie Hackett, one of the top Irish designers of the day, to design an 18-hole championship course in 1970. The course and new clubhouse officially opened in 1976.

Pat Ruddy, the most respected links designer in Ireland today, recently refined the design and improved some of the holes and greens.

The Murvagh Peninsula offers windswept topography bordered by pine forest, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Donegal Bay on the other. “Windswept” is not an understatement. The day I played here, sustained winds of more than 40 mph howled across the land, so I was nearly the only person on the course. As I gathered my clubs in the parking lot, a few members were giving up play for the day. My hat blew off, and I chased it about 100 yards, to the merriment of the packing members. “You need a woolly hat on a day like today,” one said — and then the cover for his driver took off on the same windy dance. I chased that, too, to their cheers.

I teed off to an open course that had been cleared by nature, alone except for a threesome who let me play through on the second hole — just like when the president plays.

Hole 1 | 530 yards, par 5
“The Road to the Isles”

The club website says birdies are possible for the long hitter, but this was not in the cards on the day I teed up. The course is spectacular, with a view of the Bluestack Mountains and just a stone’s throw from the beautiful Donegal Bay. Hole 1 provides a warm-up, as you are just entering the teeth of Murvagh. I shot a decent drive right center, but the wind punched down my approach into the forward bunker, ending my dreams of a first-hole par.

Hole 2 | 463 yards, par 4
“Westward Ho”

As I approached the tee box, I was waved through by a threesome searching for a ball in the high fescue on the left and only about 90 yards away. This was my big break to pass and play the course in record time, making it back for lunch in Donegal Town with my wife. I teed up and sent a ball dead left and low, right toward the threesome, as I screamed, “Fore!” There was no way they could hear me over the howling winds. Fortunately, the ball did not strike them, nor did they see how close they came to near-death. I teed up a provisional ball and sent it out toward the bunker on the right, running to my cart to make my getaway. Even on a normal windy day, players consider this hole one of the most difficult on the course; on this day, I had to play it as a par 5 and hope for the best.

Hole 5 | 196 yards, par 3
“Valley of Tears”

The name is no lie: This hole can bring the strongest player to tears. A nearly blind long shot leads to a plethora of bunkers on the way to the elevated green. Some believe this hole marks the beginning of the greatest front nine collection in all of Ireland.

Donegal Golf

Hole 8 © Francis X. Gallagher

Hole 8 | 549 yards, par 5
“Moyne Hill”

If you had any question that Donegal has length, this hole will firmly remind you; it is one of the longest holes on the Emerald Isle. Eight is an absolutely beautiful hole, with Donegal Bay to your right; you must pause a few minutes for a selfie. But once you finish your foolishness, prepare for battle with this monster’s narrow fairway and little trouble areas. Some small bunkers and moguls lie to the left of this landing strip of a fairway. As I lined up my drive, the wind picked up sand from the beach far below the high dunes where the tee box lies, stinging my face as it hit. The next shot is blind and almost fooled me into going for the 10th green, which happens to many visitors. This hole’s green lies down lower than the fairway and slopes front to back.

Hole 12 | 593 yards, par 5
“Runway”

I have a different name for this hole: I call it “The Destroyer,” as this is what it did to me. Forget that the hole is nearly 600 yards from the tips. Worse, a drainage ditch runs diagonally across the hole, and you can’t see it from the tee box or fairway until you are virtually on top of it. Also, bunkers dot both sides of the landing area from the tee box. You need to lay up on the right side, avoiding the ditch, and then smack away to the green in three. Wind or no wind, this is a long and difficult hole; I understand it represents one of Ruddy’s signature changes at Murvagh.

Hole 14 | 566 yards, par 5
“Hare’s Croft”

Here’s another long hole where you need to send out a near-perfect drive to be in position to lay up — as on 12, that pesky drainage system snakes from the left side of the fairway, then crosses the green and continues up the right side of the fairway. This is where a little course knowledge comes in handy! The green is best attacked from the left side of the fairway.

Murvagh is a must-play course, and I liked the conditions under which I played — a testament to my fortitude, and it makes for a great golf story.

Donegal Golf Club

Murvagh
County Donegal
Ireland
tel 353 74 97 34054
donegalgolfclub.ie

Newsletter sign-up

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Feature
Feb 23, 2020

3 Stops to Wellness in Australia

Wellness travel can seem like an oxymoron after a 19-plus-hour flight to Australia — but there’s something so luxurious about traveling for a great spa.

Earn and Redeem with oneworld

oneworld is an alliance of 13 world-leading airlines committed to providing the highest level of service and connecting you to more than 1,100 destinations around the world.

News
Feb 23, 2020

JetBlue Relaunches JetBlue Vacations

JetBlue Vacations recently relaunched, offering travelers bundled experiences and allowing them to purchase flights, hotel stays, car rentals and more in one spot for one price. Bundles now include additional benefits, such as free in-flight beverages, earlier flight boarding and no change fees.

Feature
Feb 23, 2020

JetBlue Plans New Routes and Schedules Ahead of 20th Anniversary

Ahead of its 20th anniversary, JetBlue will make several changes to its schedule and routes. This means new flights to Guatemala City, more flights in popular JetBlue markets and routes and adjustments to Caribbean and West Coast flights.

A Lighter Footprint

United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.

Daily
Feb 23, 2020

The Westin New Orleans Completes Massive Overhaul

The Westin New Orleans recently completed a massive, $30 million revitalization, touching on every part of the hotel. Major renovations were made to guestrooms, social spaces and meeting and event spaces. New dining establishments and meeting venues were added as well.

Feature
Feb 21, 2020

New Boeing CEO David Calhoun to Prioritize 737 MAX’s Return to the Skies

Boeing’s new CEO will prioritize bringing the company’s troubled 737 MAX to service for 2020.

Adventure of a Lifetime with Volvo

Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.

News
Feb 21, 2020

United Airlines Plans Denver International Airport Expansion

United Airlines recently announced the approval of 24 additional gates at Denver International Airport. United plans to grow its Denver hub from 500 daily flights to as many as 700 by 2025. The additional gates are part of the airport’s $1.5 billion concourse expansion and are planned for Concourses A and B. United will add a new United Club on Concourse A, as well as expand existing United Clubs at the airport.