COUNTY DONEGAL, Ireland -- The Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort trumpets itself as the oldest links golf resort in the world. Players have been chasing balls in the dunes of northwest Ireland since Old Tom Morris crafted his links in the late 19th century.
Links golf resorts are a rare breed even today. The only other in Ireland is Doonbeg. John Casey, Rosapenna's marketing director, isn't shy when talking up the amenities of his family's resort, which includes a four-star hotel and 45 holes of golf.
"The only one that can compare is Turnberry [Resort in Scotland]," he said.
While the front nine of the Old Tom Morris links has been ravaged by road construction and an attempt at a redesign by Tom Doak, the back nine is a special walk along the shore. When it opened in 2003, the Sandy Hills links became known as a brute cut through a maze of tremendous dunes by Pat Ruddy.
Casey said this dramatic modern links continues to be softened by trimming back rough. At least 12 new bunkers have been constructed on the front nine for more definition of the holes, Casey said, with more scheduled to be added on the back nine in 2013. The future never stands still here, even at such a historic place.