Review by Gareth Austin (TGB Director) 19.05.2012 Hcp 7
Carne Golf Links, Belmullet, Co. Mayo, Ireland
I have to say that before my trip to Ireland, I had never heard of the Carne Golf Links. Well, all I can say is that I will certainly not forget it – and if I get even half a chance, I will be going back! Carne is located in the rather remote town of Belmullet in north west County Mayo – where the wind often blows in gusts of 40 miles per hour (and upwards). If you care to look on the map, you will get a sense of just how remote it is. It was designed by the late, great, Eddie Hackett and only opened for play in 1993. Many have said that Carne was his swan song.
The course has been built on a magnificent piece of links land. Some have described it as a Luna landscape and, having played it, I can see why. At times it is more like mountain golf than links golf. Eddie Hackett wanted to try and have the course fit in with the landscape – and in my view he has certainly done that. A number of the greens (particularly the 8th and the 10th) are placed at the foot of gigantic dunes which gives a real amphitheater effect. Perhaps rather strangely for a links course, there are not really that many bunkers – and I suspect that is because they are not really required to make this a serious test of golf; the huge dunes, prevailing winds and undulating greens and fairways offer more than sufficient protection! We had a fairly bright day with only a gentle breeze but if the wind blows at Carne I imagine trying to keep a score going would be almost impossible!
So what of the holes themselves? The first is a cracker and gives you a good taste of what is to come. The tee shot is framed by large dunes and the second is a blind shot to one of the most undulating greens on the course. The 2nd is a good medium length par 3 with towering dunes all around. The 8th is a dog leg left around another massive sand dune to a splendid amphitheater green. However, it is only really when you play holes 10-18 that you begin to understand why many have classed Carne right up there with the very best – like Royal County Down and Ballybunion. It really is a great stretch of holes, with each hole offering up its own unique challenge.
For a links course there are some very inviting tee shots from elevated tee positions; of particular note are the tee shots on the 11th, 16th and 18th. In terms of stand-out holes, its difficult as they are all so good, but the par 5 13th is a classic links hole, which has you headed straight back out towards the Atlantic and with OB all the way down the right hand side. 15 is also a great looking hole, framed by huge dunes down the right hand side and with a tricky green, with a small bunker strategically placed at the back of the green. But the course has one last surprise for you; the 18th is a really fun golf hole with some significant changes in elevation. A flat stance is unlikely on this hole!
The condition of the course was not as good as say Lahinch but its rugged beauty and charm more than makes up for it. Given it is so remote it also offers great value for money when compared with some of the more famous Irish links. Lastly, and perhaps the best thing about Carne, is that when you play there you feel that you have discovered something special which few other golfers have experienced. My advice would be to get there as soon as possible as this course will inevitably achieve the acclaim it deserves, as it is simply too good a track to go unnoticed for long!
Top Golf Breaks is proud to offer breaks to Carne Golf Links and know that anyone visiting is assured of a warm welcome and memorable experience.