The 8th hole at Lahinch, on Ireland's west coast.
Lahinch Golf Club
Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lahinch Golf Club
Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland
6,950 yards, par 72
Green fees: $260
011353-65-7081003, lahinchgolf.com

\nSERVICE
The staff is polite, polished and full of Irish charm. Said our fine caddie after we overruled his club selection and found mutton-stew-thick rough: "Lie down with dogs and you rise with fleas." (Translation: You had it coming.)

\nPACE OF PLAY
The weak dollar has scared away tourists, so you may find wide-open fairways. We played through a group on the front nine and never saw another soul — except for Mr. and Mrs. Nelson, a pair of goats who live on the course.

\nQUALITY
Lahinch ranks 54th on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses in the World. Recent fairway and green upgrades by Martin Hawtree have restored the 116-year-old Tom Morris-Alister MacKenzie course to greatness.

\nVALUE
Considering current exchange rates, Lahinch is not what you'd call a bargain. But with its towering dunes, quirky holes (a blind par-3!) and views of Liscannor Bay, it's great Irish golf and well worth the cash.

\nVERDICT
The 400-yard par-4 9th — an untouched Old Tom original that rewards a huge hook — shows why Mickelson called the curious course his favorite links layout.
Bonus: The village of Lahinch (population: 607) has 21 watering holes!

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