Lahinch has worked with some of the games outstanding designers from its inception through to modern times; Old Tom Morris, Dr. Alister MacKenzie and Dr. Martin Hawtree.
In 1894, Old Tom Morris was commissioned to make full use of the natural links terrain, especially the giant sand dunes at Lahinch. Old Tom believed that Lahinch was the finest natural links course that he had seen. Two of Morris’s creations were the famous Klondyke (4th) & Dell (5th) holes, which are still in play today. These iconic holes continue to be the most memorable talking points for first time visitors to Lahinch and are seen locally as fitting tributes to the great Scotsman.
The first major redevelopment of the Links took place in 1907 when Charles ‘Mo’ Gibson, a distinguished professional and golf course architect from the Royal North Devon Club (better known as Westward Ho!) was invited to advise on how it should be progressed. Not surprisingly, the main feature was the further development of the sea holes corresponding roughly to the 6th and 7th of today. Gibson’s course in 1909 stretched to 5,893 yards with a bogey of 81.
In 1927, one of the greatest golf architects of the 20th century, Dr. Alister MacKenzie, was invited to submit a design for a new layout. The re-design work took one year to complete and featured undulating triple tiered greens. MacKenzie was pleased with his work and said: “Lahinch will make the finest and most popular course that I, or I believe anyone else, has ever constructed”. After completing his work on the links at Lahinch, MacKenzie went on to design some of the world’s top ranked golf courses including Augusta National, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne.
In 1999, the famous British golf architect, Dr. Martin Hawtree, who has re-designed several British Open links for the R&A, brilliantly modernised the links golf course at Lahinch creating an outstanding challenge – even in the modern era. He re-routed 4 holes and added 2 new par 3′s, the 166-yard 8th and the 170-yard 11th, both set deep in the impressive sand dunes. In all, 16 tees were re-built and 14 greens completely re-shaped, restoring them to their original character conceived by MacKenzie. Hawtree wisely left the magical “Klondyke” and “Dell” holes alone. The improvements include the re-routing of holes towards the Atlantic Ocean and the amplification of trouble around the greens where bunkers, swales and mounding now make approach shots, from any distance, a challenge. The par 4 holes at Lahinch, in particular, are generally regarded as the best in Ireland offering a wonderful challenge even to the strongest player.
The finished Dr. Martin Hawtree “restored MacKenzie course” at Lahinch has received worldwide acclaim and is now consistently ranked among the world’s Top 50 greatest links courses.