It’s a one road in, one road out kind of a place. It also has a terrific, old fashioned, natural links golf course played predominantly on common-land over a machair landscape in the shadow of Errigal.
The course has 14 holes in total (they are trying to acquire more land to get up to 18 but feuds with local farmers are proving to be troublesome) and the layout is a little confusing but I will do my best to try and explain.
We play the first three holes twice as we do the 9th/18 albeit from slightly different tees. These are arguably the least interesting holes on flatter land although the internal out-of-bounds a la Hoylake at the first adds interest, the green at the second is well built and the third is a nice sweeping downhill par five. The last hole is a tough finisher also with out-of-bounds to contend with.
I believe the club own this part of the property and have it fenced off from the remainder of the course.
So, what happens once we have played the 3rd? Well, the first time we head out onto the commonage, effectively one huge parcel of land and play holes four to eight. The terrain is terrific, wide open but wildly undulating with natural lay-of-the-land green sites. It takes us right down to the ocean’s edge and is kept by hundreds of sheep. In theory you could play from any tee to any green on this part of the course and have a wonderful hole in its own right. There are also some boulders above ground level which are marked with a “D” which means you are entitled to a free drop!
As for the back-nine, once we have played the first three holes again we now play some new holes which were built in 2014. These take us towards and into the Binn Bhui (Benwee) dunes at the far end of the course. They are rudimentary in design but a good contrast to the front nine and certainly not without merit.
The 14th is perhaps worth singling out on this group of holes. It is a par four of 391 yards with a tight drive to a tumbling fairway before we play up to a benched green at the foot of a large dune. My words don’t do justice to how good a hole this one is. The walk around the dune to the text tee is also particularly intriguing where we find a short, steeply uphill par three with a huge, natural blowout bunker to the left. The 16th is a fine hole too with a stunning view from its elevated tee.
In total it all adds up to 5,557 yards with a par of 71.
Gweedore is raw, rustic and rural and even if it is not great golf there is something invigorating about playing at this small, community golf club. It is well worth visiting if you are transiting up the West Coast of Ireland and would tie in reasonably well with another spectacular course at Cruit Island.