ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland – Links golf continues to overshadow the wonderful Lough (pronounced ‘Lock’) Erne Resort.
The five-star resort, located two hour’s drive northwest of Dublin, was gearing up for its moment in the sun – the 2017 Irish Open – when the European Tour pulled the rug out in 2016. The tournament was moved to a links course, the Strand Course at Portstewart Golf Club, in an effort to attract a few more American players looking for a refresher course on links golf the week prior to the Scottish Open and The Open Championship.
Lough Erne’s Faldo Championship Course would have looked marvelous on TV and spectators would have enjoyed its sweeping lakeshore views. No doubt, the players would have been challenged by its length, big greens and water hazards.
A statue of Sir Nick Faldo greets players heading to the first tee. He’s not known as a premier player-turned-architect, although he did a bang-up job using the lake in the parkland routing. The first hole runs along the lake, serving as a teaser for later. Immediately following the dangerous par-3 fifth hole over water, Lough Erne climbs a ridge to reveal the rest of the property, sporting panoramic views for miles of the Fermanagh Lakelands. It’s hard to fathom that Rory McIlroy could drive the dramatic, downhill 396-yard cape hole that hugs the shore at no. 7. The grueling par-5 ninth is followed by the tantalizing drivable par 4 at no. 10, which ends at a peninsula green jutting into the water. The final three holes return to the Lough’s shores. Those seeking more golf can head just outside the resort’s gates to the Castle Hume Golf Club.
The 120-room resort, set on a 600-acre peninsula, is in the midst of a three-year, multi-million-dollar improvement plan as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Recent enhancements include family facilities, a game room, refurbished guest rooms and the remodeling of the popular Blaney Bar. A leisure pool will eventually complement existing facilities at the unique Thai Spa.
Americans will forever flock to the links of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast when seeking a golf holiday, but it only makes sense that more and more golfers head inland for the spoils and joys of Lough Erne. (Read Jason Scott Deegan's review of Lough Erne)