Ballyliffin Golf Club in County Donegal, Ireland, has opened Pollan Links, a new nine-hole par-three course designed by Pat Ruddy.
“Our intention was to offer a facility to complement our two championship links and present a stimulating and challenging short course for members and visitors alike,” said John Farren, general manager at Ballyliffin.
Construction began in autumn 2019 and was completed in spring 2020. Work was carried out by the club’s greenkeeping team under the supervision of Ruddy and Patsy Doherty, Ballyliffin’s greens convenor.
“We see the course catering for the demand from holidaymakers, beginners getting into golf, our busy youth academy, and our older members who may find the two championship links too challenging in their later years,” said Farren. “There is great excitement amongst all the members, many of whom look forward to honing their short game skills on the Pollan Links.
“The routing is designed to make the most of the 14-acre site and incorporate much of the natural features of the terrain’s dunescape whilst, at the same time, considering safety implications with the proximity to the clubhouse and eighteenth fairway of the Old Links. Avoiding low lying areas susceptible to standing water in winter has also been considered.”
Holes range from 90 to 146 yards. “The course accounts for all but the drives and some second shots out on the main links,” said Ruddy. “Getting around Pollan in 27 strokes means that the player is on fire!”
Ruddy says the greens have a variety of pin positions to allow players to train their “pin-seeking” shots, and there are subtle-to-generous run-off areas to “titillate and entrance the artistic types who wish to work on finesse shots.”
“The greens are all of a scale which would sit comfortably on a full-size golf links,” said Farren. “Fine fescue greens turf was brought in by Emerald Lawns, while all other construction material and turf was sourced on site.”
Ruddy added: “Traditionally, deep links bunkers provide plenty of interest and the opportunity to prepare for the bunker shock associated with deep throated links play.”
The irrigation system was installed by Toro and was supplied by Irish firm TS Pumps.
Farren said: “The course had been in planning for many years and the club wanted to host the Irish Open prior to breaking ground so that we could fully appreciate the logistical requirements of staging a major European Tour event and the impact this would have on the footprint of the Pollan Links.”
Ruddy has been involved with Ballyliffin since the 1990s when he and Tom Craddock designed the Glashedy Links, which opened in 1995 and hosted the 2018 Irish Open. He has also worked on many holes on the Old Links, which were adapted while constructing Glashedy.
“The Pollan Links is just that – a true links – as it sits into the calm end of the great Ballyliffin dunes and designed to provide the club player with an opportunity to sharpen 70 per cent – a lot more for high handicappers – of their entire golf game,” said Ruddy.
“Care has been taken to vary the directions of the holes to bring into play all the variations of wind and light as well as presenting a rapidly changing and entrancing kaleidoscopic view of the mountains and of the main links, beckoning the player onwards.”
“We are confident Pollan Links will be a truly positive landmark in the club’s development,” said Farren.