A big dune resort golf course with some outstanding holes


Trump Doonbeg Golf Club

Trump Doonbeg Golf Club

Date Reviewed
April 26, 2023
Reviewed by Ed Battye
There’s lots of eye candy at Trump International Golf Links, Doonbeg and this provides a visual overload at times but importantly the underlying golf is very good and contains lots of strategy.

Doonbeg is a big dune resort course with some outstanding holes covering over 400 acres. It is very wide off the tee but is still a tough test of golf with a number of tees to play from so you can choose just how badly beat-up you get! There are five sets in total; Black, Gold, White, Red and Green. They measure between 7,057 and 5,086 yards so choose wisely.

Built in 2002, and originally designed by Greg Norman, the course still has that new feel but this is more to do with the fact that Dr. Martin Hawtree made extensive revisions to the course between 2014-16 when Donald Trump purchased the course. Not many changes have been made to the course since Hawtree re-designed it although the ninth green has recently been moved away from the sea a little because of coastal erosion and some mounding down the side of the 4th, 10th and 12th has been added to give extra shape and definition to the holes.

It is difficult to pick any stand-out holes at Doonbeg because they are all very good. If I had to choose one it would be the epic 15th, a par five that bends and climbs up to a wonderful green location. But in truth nearly every hole on the course could be a contender.

That said, the 10th is also one I’d highlight. Not so much from the visual perspective but the strategy of this par five with a lovely green setting is particularly strong and thought provoking.

The par-five first is a really nice opening hole too; an elevated tee to a wide fairway but it does get trickier the closer you get to the green, set at the foot of some towering sandhills, amongst the largest I’ve seen in Ireland

UK golfers may see many similarities to the Trump course in Balmedie, Aberdeen but Doonbeg is possibly a little bit more fun with some shorter par-fours thrown into the mix. Golfers who have played the Scottish course will be familiar with the large, deflecting greens and lots of short grass around the putting surfaces.

The 3rd, 5th and 6th all play under 300 yards from the daily White tees this and adds some extra spice to the opening holes. I often criticise modern courses for not having any short par fours but at Doonbeg you are hit with three in a four hole stretch! Later on in the round you also have the 15th which is also fairly short by modern standards at 327 yards from the Whites and although this isn’t really drivable it is another stunning golf hole.

Of the short par fours the only one that doesn’t really work in reality is the fifth. There is large divot-strewn gather point just short of the green which is a bit of an eyesore. The sixth does however have the most wonderful of reveals walking onto the tee as we hit the coast for the first time in the round.

It is as if Hawtree has been given a bit of a free license to do things a bit more unusual here and the amazing fairway at the fourth and the bunkerless par-three 14th are other examples of where he has wandered away from the norm. At least more than you’d expect on a modern links golf course.

The bunkering has a mix of shaggy edge styling alongside more traditional and cleaner riveted pot bunkers. Each one is used with consideration to the surrounds with the rougher edges on the holes amongst the dunes and the cleaner shapes on the flatter holes and around the greens.

The routing, which is essentially out and back, becomes a little disjointed in places with a few long walks especially to get to the 18th hole but I will give it a pass because the superb final hole is worth the inconvenience of having to wait for golfers to play the first before crossing the fairway to get to the tee.

On my visit in April the course was immaculately conditioned and the greens were superb although with an army of 35 greens staff one perhaps shouldn’t be surprised.

It will come as no surprise that the off course facilities are and adjacent accommodation are second to none but with a price tag to match.

Doonbeg is truly spectacular but doesn't quite mix it with the big boys of Ireland, maybe it will in time, but regardless it is an essential course to play if visiting South-West Ireland. The more I think about the it, the better it gets.

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