When I asked an Irish tour company to arrange accommodation and tee-times for several links courses, starting in Northern Ireland, it suggested I add another club to my list.

I hadn’t heard of Ballyliffin in the North of Donegal but I was delighted to head north from Derry to play its two championship courses.

While several golf clubs have two courses, it’s rare that a club has two of championship standard. This review of Ballyliffin Golf Club looks at both because of their obvious quality.

It’s difficult to imagine that they are not as old as all the other links classics in Ireland because the natural terrain is ideal for this form of golf. While not technically in Northern Ireland, this is one of the best golf courses in the north!

Here it goes, the complete guide to golfing Ballyliffin Golf Club.

About Ballyliffin Golf Club

Ballyliffin is the northernmost links on the Atlantic Coast of West Ireland. It was subject to a few bids for private ownership when golf’s popularity was at its height but it remains a members’ club that is gaining more and more recognition.

Ballyliffin Golf Club is relatively new for links courses. Starting in 1947 the Club in what is little more than a large village has hosted European Tour events as well as important ladies and amateur events on its two courses over the last two decades.

​Ballyliffin Golf Club opened the Old Links course as 18 holes in 1973 with the Glashedy Links added in 1995, designed by the famous Irish golf architects Pat Ruddy and Tony Craddock.

I played them both on the same day when it was calm but can imagine how winds can affect playing at other times.

The Glashedy Links certainly provided a real challenge in the 2018 DDF Irish Open with the Old Links hosting the Irish Women’s three years earlier.

The Greens and Fairways

One of Ballyliffin’s defenses is the fast running fairways where the golf ball can come to rest well away from where it landed. Sand-based and therefore well-draining, the course remains in good condition all year round and the greens play well other than on the rare occasions when frosts linger.

Learn more about the best time to visit Ireland in our post, here


Good luck with pronouncing the Gaelic names of the holes, especially on the Glashedy Course! A minor problem, of course. 

Glashedy Links

Hole 1 Creig a’Bhainne (Stroke Index 10) 374 yards Par 4 is straight with both fairway bunkers and two left of the green.

Hole 2 Creig na Caillighe (SI 2) 463 yards Par 4  needs a good drive to reach the fairway and is similarly protected but with added length;  it certainly merits Stroke Index 2.

Hole 3 Ligean (SI 8) 426 yards Par 4 is the third Par 4 at the start and most golfers will still need a long iron or fairway wood to reach the green if they have hit a good shot off the tee.

Hole 4 Glas Eide (SI 18) 594 Par 5 offers the chance to play driver, fairway wood or rescue club to get there is regulation with Stroke Index 18 a sign that most can do it as long as they negotiate the narrow fairway.

Hole 5 Clochan Beag (SI 16) 172 yards Par 3 challenges you to avoid the three bunkers down the right of the green.

Hole 6 Doras Mor (SI 14 ) 406 yards Par 4 has 4 bunkers around the green waiting to catch your long iron approach.

Hole 7 Loch na nDeor (SI 12) 174 yards Par 3 has four bunkers defending the green to pick the right line and club based upon your ability.

Hole 8 Scaithan (SI 6) 424 yards Par 4 has a long carry to reach the fairway but if you manage it you can be well on the way to a par.

Hole 9 Barr na Gaoithe (SI 4) 456 yards Par 4 is straight with plenty of sand down the right as you approach the green.

Hole 10 Stuca Bui (SI 17) 394 yards Par 4 is a dogleg right with minimal sand but contours to gather your ball.

Hole 11 Carraig a’Bracaigh (SI 7) 436 yards Par 4 continues on with sand the nearer you get to the green.

Hole 12 Odhran (SI 3) 444 yards Par 4 has the length that continues to test golfers with rescue clubs, fairway woods or long irons.

Hole 13 Bun a’Chnoic (SI 11) 571 yards Par 5 demands three strong shots to reach the green in regulation.

Hole 14 Camus (SI 15) 200 yards Par 3 offers another chance for you to pick your wood, rescue or long iron all of which you might have had out of your bag by now.

Hole 15 Tobar Mhuiris (SI 1) 451 yards Par 4 maintains the pressure which continues to the end of the round.

Hole 16 Creig na Si (SI 5) 436 yards Par 4 requires you to gather yourself for a few more long shots before you finish.

Hole 17 Pairc na mBo (SI 9) 565 yards Par 5 is the shortest of Galshedy’s Par 5s but still has the length to cause you problems if you are not accurate.

Hole 18 Gort na Momna (SI 13) 452 yards Par 4 is yet another long Par 4 before you can enjoy a Guinness.

7486 yards Par 72; Gold tees 6777 yards; White tees 6364 yards; Ladies tees 5660 yards

Old Links

Hole 1 The Mounds (SI 10) 397 yards Par 4 is an interesting opener and not too demanding as you begin your round.

Hole 2 Road to the Isle (SI 2) 428 yards Par 4 is longer and is named after the direction that it heads.

Hole 3 Glashedy (SI 6) 383 yards Par 4 is the third Par 4 at the start and a good drive and at least mid-iron is needed to get par.

Hole 4 Lagan (SI 14) 558 yards Par 5 is the shortest of the 3 Par 5s and by now you will have had plenty of practice of your long game.

Hole 5 The Tank (SI 16) 179 yards Par 3 is the first and shortest of the 4 Par 3s and club selection depends upon the wind direction.

Hole 6 Aughrim (SI 8) 376 yards Par 4 takes you back to the driver and a long iron or maybe 7 wood.

Hole 7 Ardagh (SI 18) 185 yards Par 3 is another Par 3 needing a similar club to the 5th.

Hole 8 O’Kane’s (SI 12) 382 yards Par 4 should be easy to club after previous holes.

Hole 9 The Tochar (SI 4) 403 yards Par 4 finishes the front nine and needs that little bit more length.

Hole 10 The Castles (SI 17) 341 yards Par 4 is a gentle opener to the back nine before the pressure builds again.

Hole 11 Cruachan (SI 9) 392 yards Par 4 poses a similar question to that you have faced already.

Hole 12 The Dell (SI 13) 217 yards Par 3 is a long Par 3 so you will be hoping you are not hitting into the wind.

Hole 13 Banba’s Crown (SI 5) 454 yards Par 4 tests your energy and how well you are hitting your long shots.

Hole 14 Bulbin (SI 3) 565 yards Par 5 is the second of the Par 5s so your aim must be to keep your ball in play to reach the green in regulation.

Hole 15 Ardascanian (SI 1) 480 yards Par 4 is the longest of the Par 4s and a real test for even the best of golfers.

Hole 16 The Valley (SI 7) 439 yards Par 4 may be a relief after the 15th but it is still long.

Hole 17 The Hump (SI 11) 172 yards Par 3 is easy to club if you remember the 3s of a similar length on the front nine, depending on the wind of course.

Hole 18 Callaghans Straid (SI 15) 586 yards Par 5 is long but you will soon be in the 19th.

6937 yards Par 71; White tees 6450 yards; Yellow tees 6257 yards Par 70; Ladies tees 5414 yards.

Code Of Conduct at Ballyliffin Golf Club

Visitors to Ballyliffin Golf Club are expected to follow normal course etiquette including repairing divots and pitch marks as well as avoiding slow play.

Smart casual clothing is expected both on the courses and in the clubhouse. Shorts must be tailored, shirts with collars are mandatory and athletic shirts are not permitted.

Metal spikes are not allowed on either course.

golf clothing for ireland

The Facilities

Full restaurant service is available in the Links Restaurant in the clubhouse that was built in 2000. My Ballyliffin Golf Club review must include mention of the warm welcome I received.

Green Fees and Rentals

Glashedy Links – €200
The Old Links – €180
2 Rounds in the same day- €320

Local Rate for ILGU members:
Glashedy Link – €80
The Old Links – €80

Equipment hire:
Ordinary Trollies – €5
Buggies – €40
Club Hire – €40

Caddies are available and should be booked in advance: €50 plus tip while fore-caddies are €70 per group.

To book a tee-time, send an email, or call: +353 74 937 6119. Find Ballyliffin Golf Club on the map, here

Enjoy a Round at Ballyliffin Golf Club

Only single handicap golfers should attempt the back tees but the white courses that I played still produced a real challenge and a great experience. Golfing at Ballyliffin Golf Club is recommended.

Images in this article are courtesy of Shutterstock.