Had the opportunity to play for a few days in the north of Donegal. To be frank, I wasn't expecting such wonderous scenery. The Derryveagh Mountains isolate the endless strands and inlets which populate what is often a stunning coast. I can imagine there being a hundred courses along this stretch of coastline, but I reckon the relatively small number which do exist is plenty. Why? We were there in the height of summer enjoying stunning weather yet the courses were nowhere near full. I was at least expecting Rosapenna to be busy, but it felt more like a hulking great mausoleum, albeit quite a comfortable mausoleum...for the living.
After landing in Belfast and making the unpromising 2.5 hour journey to Narin & Portnoo, we played as planned in what were initially cloudy and fairly breezy conditions. The opening hole is short, but very tight. A burn crosses the fairway around the 240 yard mark and OOB (the ubiquitous caravans!) is hard right. While a bit visually messy, I liked the hole and thought the green was good.
After a dull par 5, the third is a fairly dull par 3 and I wondered why this feature wasn't better utilized.
After the 4th I was beginning to wonder what I was doing in this part of the world, but from this point onwards, the terrain greatly improves and there are several excellent holes. Rather than going into great detail, I will offer a flavour of the course. The excellent 5th climbs to a dell green surrounded by dunes.
The next hole was hard to fathom because I mistakingly took a white post staked out to the right as OOB. The hole turns unkowingly hard left over a large, hairy dip then climbs to a pulpit green. #7 is a knob to knob short hole and one I enjoyed.
The next hole is great fun and one of my two favourites at N&P. Maybe 330 yards downhill playing straight to the strand. The fairly small green seemingly dangles above the beach. I didn't like the look of the fairway so played up the left. I didn't appreciate this angle leaves a butt clenching blind approach from where I imagine many wind up short right.
We now climb back up the right flank of the dune just descended. The fairway abruptly ends as if an extremely localized earthquake had struck. The land then tumbles to the green.
#10 is much the same sort of hole rambling over heaving ground. The catch is there is a narrow gap for the brave to go for the green in two.
The green too has much interest.
The terrain retards back to normalcy for a few holes, but the short 11th is a good hole. The main problem with N&P is the flat holes. For me, they hold no interest so let us fast forward to #14, the middle hole of a trio of three-shotters of which two are newish. I don't like the idea of eating up so much terrain so quickly with banger holes, but so far as the concept goes, E Connaughton's 14th and 15th (I think he also redesigned some greens) are good holes, if a bit too tight.
N&P finishes strongly with three good holes, including the short infernal 16th with its slip away green and my darling 17th. A true elephant's graveyard of a hole with humps continuing just shy of a green which runs like a ramp to the rear. Play is from right of the photo.
The 18th is more traditional over flatter ground, but no worse for it and the only flat hole at N&P for which I have any time. Despite the awful 4-5 flat holes, there is far too much fun to be had to be too down in the mouth. After one play I am not convinced it is worth the protracted trip to reach N&P, but we must remember that golfers have to go where the courses are. If one does decide to go this far to the northwest of Ireland, Cruit Island is a must play to make it all worth while..... 2014
Other Tour Stopshttp://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59070.msg1388131.html#msg1388131
Rosapenna OTM LInkshttp://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59240.msg1392946.html#msg1392946
Rosapenna Sandy Hillshttp://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59129.msg1390457.html#msg1390457