What we say
For those who like their links served with withering winds, rough edges and rugged dunes. You cannot help but smile when here. No bigger dunes, no bigger thrills at this 27-hole venue, tucked away in the wilds of Mayo. A remote, majestic links where recent new holes have seen it get even better.
Already one of the purest and most dramatic links experiences in Britain and Ireland, Carne received nine more new holes recently – fulfilling the dream of original designer Eddie Hackett. The “Kilmore” nine brings the total number of holes here to 27.
Carne is laid out in three loops of nine, all starting behind the cosy clubhouse and facing into the sea of dunes. You feel like you’re about to be cast adrift. Hackett’s front nine play over dunes that get smaller in scale as they move farther inland. It’s an introduction of sorts to the rumpled fairways, the unpredictability that such fairways bring, the natural green sites and the sort of shot-making that will be in much demand as the round progresses.
It also teaches you to expect the unexpected. The par-4 1st is a case in point. It sweeps right, around a dune, with two high ridges stretched across the fairway; hit your drive into the wrong place and the ball will sweep right and down, to where there is no view of the green. The 3rd is one of only three par 4s on the entire course over 400 yards (white tees). It emphasises that Carne requires more brains than brawn. You’ll recognise this standing on any of the tees. Greens are rarely visible and the fairways twist, turn, rise and fall as you assess the hole ahead of you. The 5th is a short, straight par four where a sliver of green might be visible through a narrow chute in the dunes. The fairway bumps up and down before you get there, proving deceptive, and anything hit right leaves a treacherous blind shot over the dune top. The 9th is a straight par four but it offers similar risks, with steep step-like ridges rising to the green. There’s a high tee and you can judge the dangers for yourself before choosing what club to play.
There is little doubt that Hackett’s back nine is as explosive as a golf course can be. Hitting onto the 10th fairway, up the slope and flanked between matching dunes, stands as fair warning of what is to come. Once you drop down the other side, Carne becomes a rollercoaster, where the random, erratic dunes create corridors of shadow and intrigue, and the routing simply follows where the dunes lead. You head out to the coastline, via the 11th and 12th, two short, sharp dog-legs, then on to the 13th and 14th which cling to the Atlantic, as wild and desolate as any of the holes here. This is Carne’s farthest corner and when you turn for home you embark on one of the great closing stretches in Irish golf.
The Kilmore nine feel even more natural – if that is possible – and nowhere is this more apparent than on the first two holes: the 1st green is perched on a low ledge, but set above hollows and fall-offs that only nature could have created; the 2nd is a par 3 that plays into a gateway between two dunes. From there you head back into the main complex of dunes, where you interweave with the old back nine.
The 7th is the pick, a par 3 of terrifying beauty. From the tee, fellow golfers walking through the valley of the 5th hole look like ants and it is one of the best viewpoints on the course. The tee shot is 228 yards, hitting from one dune to another, with only disaster in between. The 8th swings you for home, but the final two holes are just as rumbustious between cordons of unrelenting dunes and fairways of dramatic shape. A fitting finale.
There are many plaudits for the course, and Hackett and McIntosh, obviously, but, when all is said and done, it is the people of Belmullet who deserve the greatest thanks. They inspired a links that is as dramatic as anything the golfing world has to offer.
Carne Golf Links in North Mayo on the West Coast of Ireland lies in magnificent unspoiled sand dunes overlooking Blacksod Bay and the wild Atlantic Ocean near the town of Belmullet. Discover Erris in North Mayo an area that is famed the world over for its golf course and white sandy atlantic beaches that stretch for miles, its bountiful wildlife and warm welcome. Carne Golf Links was the last links course to be designed by the late Eddie Hackett and it is now believed by many who have played it to his greatest challenge.
The building of Carne has caused little disturbance to this wild and ancient landscape. Tees and greens occurred naturally and very little earth moving was involved in the course construction. There are some breathtaking views over the Atlantic and the legendary islands of Inis Glóire and Inis Géidhe.
- TG Rating
- Players Rating
- Address Carne Golf Links, Carne, Belmullet, Co. Mayo, , Belmullet
- Tel 00 353 978 2292
- Website www.carnegolflinks.com
|Green Fees||€35 - €90|
|Course Length||6,730 yards (6,154 metres)|
- Course has: Bar
- Course has: Buggy Hire
- Course has: Driving Range
- Course does not have: Practice Green
- Course has: Pro Shop
- Course has: Restaurant
- Course has: Trolley Hire
- Course does not have: Dress Code
- Course has: Club Hire
- Course does not have: Handicap