Reader’s Trip Report: Cruit Island, County Donegal, Ireland

Cruit IslandI’ve taken two golf trips to northwestern Ireland, and I’ve played some of my favorite rounds there, including ones at Carne, Enniscrone, Narin & Portnoo, Portsalon, and Ballyliffin. (You can read about one of those trips here.) Since then, several people have told me I missed a gem: Cruit Island Golf Club, a nine-holer, which lies at the outermost tip of a sparsely populated island that’s connected to the mainland by a causeway. (The drive from Donegal to the golf club is roughly an hour and a half. My rule for estimating driving times on Ireland’s sidewalk-size back roads: think of the kilometers as miles, then multiply by two.)

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Vic Thompson—a reader in southern Illinois and a member of Lake of Egypt Country Club, which I have now moved to No. 1 on my list of the World’s Best-Named Golf Clubs—has played there twice, in 2012 and 2013. Recently, he wrote to urge me to play there, too.

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Excerpts from Thompson’s report:

I first traveled to Ireland in 2001 and played the southwestern courses, Lahinch, Ballybunion, Tralee, Waterville, and Old Head. I returned in 2003 (Scotland & Ireland), 2011 (with my wife just to sight-see), 2012, and 2013. Of all the courses I have played in Ireland, Cruit Island—pronounced Critch Island—was the most fun. It has blind tee shots, tee boxes set on top of large high dunes, and great putting greens. The first tee is high atop a dune, giving the golfer a panoramic view of parts of the course as well as the cliffs and ocean. The sixth hole is a 140-yard par 3 that is all carry over a stunning wave-crashing gorge. The scenery is stunning. The azure waters and rocks surrounding the course are breathtaking.

IMG_2488My first visit was in 2012, on a trip with my golf buddy Bob. We were staying at the Lake House Hotel in Portnoo, and one of our hosts recommended that we drive up and see it. We did, and the course manager—who happened to be a relative of another of our hosts at the hotel—invited us to play nine holes and provided us with an electric cart, all at no cost. He was so proud of the course, which opened in 1986, and the more he talked the more excited he became.

IMG_2476I went back with my daughter, Jenny, in 2013. Jimmy said, “We’ll settle up when you finish,” and after our round he said that fifteen euros should take care of it. I thanked  him, and commented that this was the most fun I had ever had on an Irish course. Cruit Island is out of the way, but I recommend putting it on your itinerary. Heck, the drive alone is worth it. 

IMG_2484I’m sold. Let’s go!

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8 thoughts on “Reader’s Trip Report: Cruit Island, County Donegal, Ireland

    • Thanks Tim. The course is much more beautiful than my photos show. Let me know if you have played any Irish courses and if so which ones. Over the years I have played 25 rounds on 17 Irish courses. I have been to Scotland twice playing the Old Course four times as well as Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Prestwick and Machrihanish. But I must say Ireland’s courses are by far my favorite. That is why I keep returning.

    • Kevin, Thank you for your comment. Your photos do Cruit Island much more justice than mine. I have enjoyed you on the Flickr & Irish blog sites. I am considering a golf itinerary from Portrush to Newcastle Will you give me your opinion as to whether the first week of November, as a general rule weather-wise, will provide a reasonably good golf experience? I have played Narin & Portnoo, Enniscrone and Carne in late April experiencing low 50’s and very windy conditions with no problem being comfortable. Thanks again. Irish golf is the best in my opinion.

      • Vic, as I’m sure you know we could be here all day discussing the weather! The November just gone was the driest on record. When I travelled in October 2007 I played 40 courses and got rained on once. It’s a lottery though.

        That said, October and early November should be OK – certainly the same 50s you had before. Where are you hoping to play… other than the obvious Portrush, Royal County Down and Portstewart?

        • I will probably only play 7 days, so by playing Portstewart’s & Portrush’s courses plus Newcastle and Ardglass (maybe Kirkistown) that will do it. I normally play 18 each day, but may try for 36 so I can enjoy the same course more than once. I have played the SW, West and NW courses. This should complete the circuit. Never done it before but I may travel as a lone golfer and hope to hook up with locals.

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