Lough Erne, a true treasure of parks

When you step into the sprawling surroundings of the stunning Lough Erne Resort, it doesn’t take long to realize why Rory McIlroy was a former tour pro at this wonderful Fermanagh location.

This course is good enough to host a tournament,” McIlroy said in 2009. “You can’t ask for more, because of the conditioning or the style of the course. Not only does it have a great course, it has fantastic facilities with the hotel. It is ideal.

McIlroy was speaking after a charity skins match against Padraig Harrington, a round in which the latter pushed his shot from the former deep into lower Lough Erne.

Welcome to Lough Erne, where water is a prominent feature on one of the best parkland courses you’ll ever play on.

Upon arrival, dense, mature forest flanks virgin fairways to the right of the road and to the left is the Golf Academy. Castle Hume course is the first you pass and it exudes that conventional feel of a true parkland course.

As you continue up the winding entrance road, you soon realize the Faldo Course marquee is up ahead as mighty Lough Erne comes into view. We stayed in the main hotel at the foot of a small hill that runs up to the clubhouse, parallel to the 18th hole. The Collop Walk is just a stone’s throw from the hotel and offers the perfect opportunity to take in panoramic views of the complex while studying the impressive Faldo course before the next day’s activities.

There are elevated tees with attractive drives into winding fairways with subtle hills and mounds and water almost everywhere. The natural lake and forested terrain are a unique and endearing feature of this remarkable course. Play from the back tees to maximize the experience.

In the excellent work of Brian Keogh The 50 Greatest Holes in Irish Golf in the Irish Independent in 2020, 10th, Emerald Isle, from the Faldo Course made the list. It is not the longest par four. In fact, those with a little more drive can try to smash one into the green surface. But its astonishing beauty makes it a dent on your bucket list.

From the tee you can take two options, launch an iron towards a plateau sandwiched between a slope to the left and a forest to the right or go for the Ave Maria and hit the driver. The latter is a dangerous option and leaves you missing one of the best approach shots in Irish golf. A lay-up will leave you just a wedge downhill and onto a green carved into Lough Erne. There is no room for error. Miss the green surface and your ball is wet.

It is a hole that combines scenic beauty with tactical notion and although, for many, it is the characteristic hole that invites you to play in Lough Erne, there are many others that deserve the name.

You can open the shoulders on a couple of early par-fives, the fourth and sixth, with the latter being played from a raised tee to a fairway that veers left into a valley and then up the hill to the green.

The par four seventh, Devinish Drop, measures 396 yards from the backwoods and really sets off the majestic views that make Lough Erne such a memorable golf experience. It is downhill to a fairway that hugs the lake to the right with its beautiful green well protected by bunkers. The plaque on the tee tells you that Rory McIlroy was the first person to drive the green, so as you can imagine, it’s hard not to go all out with the driver.

Spectacular lake views are an important part of the tour from here. The 10 takes it in all its glory and the last three holes are as good as you’ll play.

The 16th – Faldo’s Turn – is a glorious par five framed once again by the lake on the right and trees on both sides of the fairway. From the back tees, the drive is intimidating and memorable. You are on the perfect launch pad, high above the cozy street with a driveway that skirts the lake covered in reeds and reeds. It’s a decent hit to clear water and rough obstacles and if you do, you still have to get around trees. You could spend hours here with a bucket of balls.

The 17th and 18th are played again along the lake and towards the club house: a par four with the water in play at all times and a long test par three to finish.

Lough Erne’s other course, Castle Hume, is famous for its wide greens, undulating fairways and challenging water hazards, and boasts some 7,000 trees and over 30 bunkers. Held to the highest standards, it measures just over 6200 yards and plays to a test par of 70. It is recognized as one of the most scenic championship golf courses in Northern Ireland and as such is an excellent way to experience the beautiful natural countryside of Fermanagh with spectacular views over Castle Hume Lough.

The hotel offers a complete gastronomic experience. The Catalina, Northern Ireland’s Restaurant of the Year, combines a selection of classic and contemporary dishes with a strong allegiance to local produce. Delicious and mouth-watering food is paired with an elegant interior complete with crystal chandeliers and vaulted ceilings.

Next door, the Blarney Bar offers a more casual experience with lunch and dinner menus and an outdoor terrace where you can relax and soak in the beauty of Lough Erne.

There are traditional lake view rooms in the main hotel and two and three bed cottages along the lake. Turret accommodations are extremely spacious and comfortable with all the usual amenities including a Jacuzzi.

With a McIlroy endorsed golf course and Hotel of the Year winner, Lough Erne, set on a 600-acre peninsula with spectacular views of the Fermanagh Lakelands, is the perfect getaway for golfing and relaxation.

fact file
Green fees: weekdays (Monday to Thursday) £59 (approx. €70); Weekend (Fri-Sun) £69 (approx. €82)
Society Rates: Tea or coffee with a bacon roll, 18 hole Faldo course with complimentary buggy and food from the golfer’s menu. £75 per person from November 2022 to March 2023 | £99pp Valid from April 2023 to October 2023. Must be booked by 31st October 2022 and bookings must be for social groups of 12+.
Society Stay & Play: Deluxe room with breakfast; 18-hole Faldo course with courtesy buggy; 18 Holes at Castle Hume Course with a Golfer’s Menu Meal from £185 pps* Valid November 2022 to March 2023 | From £225pps Valid from April 2023 to October 2023. *Supplement applies to weekend and high season dates. Share-based offers per person.
Buggy hire: Yes £40
Club Hire: Yes £30
Electric Carts: Yes £15
Range Balls: £3 for 25, £5/50, £7/100
Exclusive hole: 10, Par 4, Emerald Isle, 347 yards (Black Tee); 287 yards (White); 207 yards (Red)
Stunning backdrop to Lower Lough Erne, where golfers play this ‘risk-reward’ hole on an island green
Pro Tip: Damian Mooney, Resort PGA Professional: “This is a risk and reward hole, but caution will pay off. Treat this hole with respect.”
Member fees: Waiting list for the Faldo Course
Nearby Clubs: North West Gateway and Co Sligo, Murvagh, Rosapenna, Ballyliffin

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