Erris Tourism is a community owned and controlled company which was set up in 1984 to develop and promote the tourism industry in the region of North Mayo, Ireland.
As part of this development, the company undertook the construction of Carne Golf Links on part of 260 acres of commonage that it purchased in 1985.
The company engaged Eddie Hackett, a well known Irish golf links designer, to lay out the 18 holes, and Carne Golf Links was the last links course to be designed by him.
The first nine holes was opened in 1992, and the second a year later.
Belmullet Golf Club was founded in 1925. Up until 1992, the club played on a nine hole course at Cross near Binghamstown, but on invitation the club became the resident club at Carne Golf Links thereafter. An additional 9 hole course designed by Ally McIntosh opened to much acclaim in 2013. Named the Kilmore course, some suggested it mighth be the best nine hole course in the UK. It's dramatic routing took it through the large dunes like the back nine of the championship course. There was some suggestion that this nine might be combined with the back nine of the championship course to form a very dramatic 18 holes to be called The Wild Atlantic Links. Sadly at the date of our visit in 2017 the Kilmore course is closed and is not being maintained due to economic restraints, and the championship course is in poor shape as well.
Located near the village of Belmullet, Carne Golf Course is set in towering dunes set on a peninsula overlooking the Atlantic Coast. The course is very much a tale of two nines with the front nine playing through more subdued terrain with rural vistas. The back nine however is a different story as it is routed through large dunes, and touches the coastline.
The front nine eases you into the round with a succession of nice links holes in low lying dunes, and a couple ( holes 3 & 4 ) which skirt the dunes.
I thought the two par 3's were good holes- the second a semi blind tee shot to a raised green surrounded by small dunes, and the seventh which has an elevated green sitting on a ledge in the dunes. It has a sharp fall off at the front and the green is quite narrow, so it's is a difficult target to hit...
Hole 5 & 6 are gentle dog leg par 4's where the small dunes are used well to protect the green. But I thought the best hole of the nine was the par 4 eight hole with the green guarded by two slightly larger dunes.
The back nine is more demanding and quite dramatic. The tenth is a par 4 with the green set in a huge dune ampitheatre. It looks good!
Hole 11 is a par 4 which doglegs sharply right. The view from the elevated tee is breathtaking. A good tee shot between the dunes below sets you up for a look at the green ( which is hidden by a large dune off the tee). Again the green sits up high on a ledge in the dune making for a most unusual and dramatic golf hole.
The twelfth hole is similar in that the elevated tee has glorious views and the tee shot must be accurate to hit the tiny fairway below, with outer bounds long and right and dunes to the left. The Approach is to a high green behind the left dunes.
The back nine continues through large dunes, with heaving fairways and a number of elevated greens. Fourteen is a nice par 3 with ocean views, and sixteen is a drop shot par 3 from an elevated green to a green set well below in a dell.
The closing hole is a tumultous par 5 which summarises the back nine perfectly. Unfortunately when we played the condition of the course was below par, likely because of economic factors as a result of the building of the Kilmore nine. Certainly if the Kilmore nine is finished, and played back to back with the existing back nine Carne would be a major player in Irish golf.
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