Just a short drive from the front door of McGettigans Hotel Hotel, you will find an unassuming golf club that has been welcoming golfers for over 125 years. North West Golf Club is a links layout that has been dubbed ‘the St Andrews of Ireland’. The club is a founder member of the GUI and our relationship with this gem of Irish golf ensures that our guests are given a warm welcome as well as greatly reduced green fees. Our course review will give you a taste of what to expect when you book a Stay & Play package at McGettigans Hotel including a round at North West Golf Club.
In under 30 minutes from McGettigans Hotel, you will get a glimpse across North West Golf Club as you approach Buncrana. The links layout with fairways running closely beside each other is relatively flat as you look across the course from the main road. As you approach the clubhouse however, you see that the fairways are punctuated with mounds, undulations, and pot bunkers. Suddenly the description of the ‘St Andrews of Ireland’ makes sense.
Not only does to topography of the course relate to St Andrews, but the undoubted history of North West will remind those well-travelled golfers of the home of golf. The clubhouse is small, traditional, welcoming and the history is palpable. Black & white pictures of golfers in plus 4’s adorn the corridors and the hickory shafts and moustaches in these images depict the era. The beauty of golf is that despite great advances in technology, the basics of the game have never changed. While we wait to tee off at North West, you are fully aware that the challenges today are similar to those faced by the founders of this wonderful club over 125 years ago.
As soon as you step onto the 1st tee at North West, you know you are in for a treat. Perched on the banks of Lough Swilly with views across to the Fanad Peninsula and out the Atlantic, the setting is simply stunning. The exposed nature of the course dictates that you will rarely enjoy a calm day.
The yardage of just over 6,300 yards is not daunting by modern standards. Having said that, this course is far from easy. Thick rough, tight fairways, steep bunkers and a guarantee of wind all ensure a serious challenge. As well as this, during summer months, a dry spell of weather will make the course an absolute rock to play on. Approach shots landing 30 yards short and ending up through the green are not uncommon. This is links golf as it was meant to be with a premium placed on imagination, shot making and judgement.
Holes 1-5 hug the coastline with memorable photo opportunities at almost every shot. You then make the turn back towards the club house and hug the main road between 6 – 10. While playing down wind you would be well advised to score well as you are guaranteed that a challenge awaits on the holes into the breeze.
The final 7 holes offer a little more room for error off the tee as they are not bordered by the sea or main road but be warned, thick rough awaits anything too far off line.
Many golfers will have an opinion of the best hole with the 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 11th and 17th all viable candidates. For this golfer however, there can be only one, the 16th or ‘Fairy’ to give its proper name.
This 93 yard par 3 is a true anomaly in modern golf. From a raised tee, you will not see the full green with banks in front blocking the view of the putting surface. Around the green you will find severe run off areas, 4 pot bunkers, a small ditch if you veer very far right and a lightning fast putting surface.
This hole will live long in the memory and could offer up a birdie as easily as a double boget. Green Golf Travel names this hole among the best 18 in Donegal and it is not difficult to see why.
Ranked number 82 in Ireland by Irish Golfer magazine, this course is well respected. Based only a short distance from the magnificent Ballyliffin Golf Club this part of Inishowen is certainly a hub for quality links golf. Despite this ranking, green fees at North West Golf Club are some of the most reasonable you will find in Ireland. Guests at the McGettigans Hotel also receive further discounts when booking a round.