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To be honest, I did not have any expectations when I first arrived to the links of Donegal. I had read more about other courses which I was about to play on my journey. Donegal...well, it is Donegal, not County Down or Lahinch. But when you expect nothing, the reward is even bigger. To me Donegal provides a fine example and remainder of how you must see and experience things before making final conclusions. Donegal was opened in late 70's when the club acquired its new links land, outside the town of Murvagh. The course starts with four holes built on relatively flat land, but then you arrive to the fifth. " Valley of Tears", this 176-meter long 5th is a fine par-3 hole. It is followed by some beautiful links holes along the water and dunes. The par-5 8th is one of the best long holes anywhere with its rolling fairway. A blind second shot must be played with care to get a good approach to the green. You finish your front nine and start you back nine with a few short but demanding par-4's. The long par-5 12th is redesigned by Pat Ruddy. It offers bunkers and water and makes you think of your club selection really closely. On the way home, you can easily spoil your score card on the finishing holes. The 17th is a short par-4 with a green reachable for big hitters. But just as easily you can also end up in big trouble! The last fairway and green are also heavily guarded by bunkers. Donegal is 6753 meters from championship tees with a par of 73. It seems easier when you go through the holes in the stroke saver but once out in the course things get harder. The course record is "only" 69, a score by Noel Fox, which gives you an idea of how tough this coures is. Donegal is also known to have one of the best greens in Ireland, which makes scoring even tougher. Donegal is one of the best ever Eddie Hackett designs and he was surely blessed with a beautiful piece of land. As Hackett himself stated: " I found that nature is the best architect, I just dress up what the Good Lord provides." Darren Clarke has named Donegal one of his favourite courses in the world. To me Donegal provided an excellent round of links golf, which I would very much like to repeat in the near future. Well, next time I know what I am about to experience.
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