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Rosslare Golf Links Feature Review

By: Andrew Picken | Tue 25 Jan 2022

Review by Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken

Rosslare Golf Links opened in 1905. “Rosslare” derives from the ancient term meaning “the middle point or promontory”. Think of a spit of land on which it stands as a single finger or strip separating the Irish Sea from Wexford Harbour. The ground upon which this excellent links is situated is a living thing in its own right. Subjected to the vagaries and winds and weather off the Irish Sea.

Areas of special scientific interest abound in this natural environment. In its history there have been concerns over the efforts that Mother Nature has taken to try and reclaim this wonderful ground and layout.

Within minutes of arriving at the venue I was taken by its quality and its welcome. Feeling like a member for the day is an achievement at any club. Exactly this feeling was achieved with a relaxed, assured manner by all who we met.

I was especially looking forward to this round as we were to be joined by a golfing companion of some note, the Irish author and photographer, Kevin Markham.

Kevin has played every 18-hole course in Ireland and written some excellent books about his adventures. He was the perfect guide and host, I could see immediately the respect he had for this venue and its membership. Kevin is a highly accomplished photographer specialising in golf imagery. Please check out his website www.kevinmarkhamphotography.com. Many of the images I have used in this report come from his camera and imagination.


Highlights of Rosslare

They say a picture speaks a thousand words and, in this case, I could wax lyrical about the wonderful terrain and landscape but only scratch the surface of what a wonderful golfing experience this venue is.

As Kevin said on the day, “Rosslare is full of charm, mischief and sweet greens”. It is a typically understated Irish wit that coincided with yet another visit from yours truly to the rough that borders the shaped and rippled fairways. 

I have looked into the history of the venue on your behalf supported by an excellent book created to celebrate the 100 years of golf at Rosslare called ‘Fairways of the Sea’ by Tom Williams. I love reading golf club centenary books and this is one of the best. Sections on environmental impacts and the scientific interest that abound in the shoreline and dunes is fascinating and I thoroughly recommend this informative and interesting book.

Any course that claims direct quotes by Mackenzie and Ebert to the venue attracts my attention. They suggest that “the 11th hole should be protected as a listed building.”

I totally agree. What a wonderfully challenging layout. Known locally as The Barbers Pole as it provides a sight line for the ideal line off the tee. 481 yards from the tips and the course’s strongest hole, it is a real beauty to the eye and strategically challenging. The sea and beach flank the hole to its right edge with swales, bunkers and parallel fairways protecting its left side.

Talking of tee boxes, watch out for the “Ranelagh Tee Boxes”. Named after the place in England where they were originally constructed. They contained a small compartment in the front for the storage of sand to be used as a tee mound by the players and caddies.

The course is situated overlooking the huge Wexford Harbour. Don’t be surprised to see large ferries and container ships sliding past the horizon as you make your way around the links.

Its designer was the famous George L Baillie who created many of the Irish golfing masterpieces like Royal County DownRoyal Belfast and one of my personal favourites, Castlerock.


The Golf Course

The 18-hole championship course known as the “Old Course at Rosslare Golf Links” measures 6,800 yards.

However, do not overlook the 12-hole Burrow Links course that opened in 1992. Created by Christy O Connor Jnr. No bunkers, but all situated on the same peninsula as its older sibling. 12 holes of pure golfing delight. Why not stay in the area and ensure 30 holes of play a day.

The Old Course at Rosslare Golf Links is laid out in a true traditional links style, with seven holes out along the coast and the remaining holes back to the clubhouse with many running parallel on this sandy stretch of land.

Located in the sunny south east, the links tends to play firm and fast most of the year round. It is a relatively flat links but does offer its share of run-offs, undulations, pot bunkers and blind shots as is in keeping with links style golf.

The mix of long and short par 4s, reachable par 5s and tough par 3s is excellent, and its conditioning, especially the greens, is superb. 

This par 72 with four par 5s and four par 3s provides a genuine golfing challenge. There is a wonderful soundtrack to the venue provided by the waves meeting the nearby beach.


Keep a wary eye out for the crafty crows that recognise an easy meal courtesy of unattended trolley bags. They have taught themselves how to open partially closed zipped pockets in order to access the golfing supplies carried by many of us. We returned to a bag bereft of car keys, crisps and tissues as they sought to drag food from the pockets of the unwary golfer’s bag. I am never ceased to be amazed at how wildlife adapts in its interactions with its human partners.

Access to a course planner is a very useful addition to your golfing armoury as this is a course that will take some handling as a new player.

The fairways are subtle, rippled and changing, cruelly so on occasion. That is the beauty of links golf. A full understanding of the swales and runs around the greens is also needed unless you are blessed with the chipping skills of a Shane Lowry or Graeme McDowell.

This golf course is a joy to play and experience. It requires a sensible strategic play with your tee shots to provide the best opportunity to hit the greens with an approach in regulation.

It's a low-lying, flattish links course that will be readily affected by weathers and winds to add more to this three-dimensional game of chess we play called golf.



Statistically this area is in the sunniest part of the Island of Ireland and only a 15-minute drive away from Rosslare Harbour ferry port and less than two hour’s drive from Dublin. It is perfectly situated for the travelling golfer. A short hop over the water from Wales using one of the regular ferry services enables the use of your own transport rather than a hire vehicle. This option also allows for the carriage of much bulkier and heavier items as no one is weighing bags or luggage.

Rosslare has hosted many tournaments, including finals of the GUI Cup and GUI Shields Senior Men's Home International.

I love playing links golf. This isn't like Portstewart or Castlerock or Portrush with its mountainous, cathedral like channels through which the fairways are carved. This is much more subtle, but equally as much fun, and challenging as anything offered in these other famed venues.

To play at Rosslare was an absolute delight. It added to my lexicon of golf courses played and added new thoughts and experiences in equal measure.

It is simply a golfing gem to be treasured, polished and protected. I am already plotting when I will be able to return.

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