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Donegal Links by Paul McGinley?

10th January 2005:
(from an article by Dermot Gileece in the Sunday Independent)

Irish Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley has ambitions to design a links course at Ard a Chor, overlooking Sheephaven Bay on the north coast of County Donegal.

McGinley's father, Michael, is a native of nearby Dunfanaghy and together with 4 other locals purchased the 200-acres site in 1997 with the objective of building a 32 bedroom hotel, leisure centre and golf course. The site is located just off the R245 road between Creeslough and Carrigart.

The site has again stirred the environmental debate of golf course development. Shortly after purchase the developers were informed that the site had been designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) by the European Union and an 18-hole golf course would be a non-runner.

However, Paul McGinley was recently honoured at a charity dinner in Letterkenny for his Ryder Cup exploits and during his annual Christmas break in Donegal he again visited the proposed site. The result has been a re-awakening of the planned development, especially as experts from University College Dublin and the University of Ulster have assured the developers that there is nothing environmentally special about the area.

McGinley's admirable view is that too many golf developments are designed with the professional golfer in mind, though they represent less than .001% of the world's golfers. His vision for the Donegal site is a golf course that "...is attractive to play, leaving visitors wanting to come back. Just like Baltray where I won the Irish Professional"

The environmental issue is all too familar with golf course developments in Ireland and similar plans for new developments have already caused delays and legal wranglings, most notably at Old Head of Kinsale and Doonbeg. Currently proposed developments at Inch, Co. Kerry and Bartragh Island, Co. Mayo are expected to also encounter planning objections.

County Donegal has the potential to equal the stature of County Kerry as a golf destination. There are already five world class links courses: Donegal Golf Club at Murvagh, Portsalon Golf Club, the Sandy Hills links at Rosapenna and the two magnificent links at Ballyliffin. In addition there are excellent holiday links at Dunfanaghy and the Old Tom Morris course at Rosapenna.

Across the Foyle there are the triumvirate of courses on the north coast at Castlerock, Portstewart and Royal Portrush. To the south in County Sligo are the links at Rosses Point and Enniscrone and there are fine parkland courses at Castle Hume (Co. Fermanagh) and Slieve Russell (Co. Cavan).

Northwest Ireland Golf | Northwest Golf Guide

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