Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 3rd
0 of 7
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 3rd
The par-3 third hole on the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort introduces the views of Sheephaven Bay. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 4th
1 of 7
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 4th
The fourth green of the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort overlooks the Old Tom Morris Links on flatter ground. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 6th
2 of 7
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 6th
The sixth green is the prettiest spot on the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 7th
3 of 7
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 7th
The par-3 seventh hole of the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort tumbles downhill to a green that falls off on the right side. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 8th
4 of 7
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 8th
The par-5 eighth hole of the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort plays off an elevated tee through a valley of dunes. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 9th
5 of 7
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 9th
The 441-yard ninth hole on the Sandy Hills golf course at Rosapenna climbs uphill to the green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 11th
6 of 7
Rosapenna - Sandy Hills Links golf course - 11th
Make sure you take enough club to reach the elevated green on the par-3 11th hole of the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Co. Donegal, Ireland. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
7 Images

Go for a thrill ride on the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Ireland

COUNTY DONEGAL, Ireland -- The Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort earned such a fierce reputation as one of Ireland's toughest links that, in the past, some tour operators have steered golf groups away from playing the Pat Ruddy design.

That's a shame.

The links, recently ranked no. 11 among the best courses on the Emerald Isle by Golf Digest Ireland, sits in a bold and beautiful piece of land overlooking Sheephaven Bay four hours northwest from Dublin.

Its wild side has been partially tamed in the last few years. Rosapenna has beaten back the deep fescue, taken out bunkers and redesigned a handful of greens to improve playability.

It's still a demanding test. Ruddy's holes often finish at platform greens perched well above the valleys in the fairway. Bump-and-runs can feel virtually impossible. Drop-offs and hollows punish weak approaches. The views take some of the sting off the scorecard. The vista of the bay on the par-3 third hole teases what's coming next. After back-to-back blind shots from the fifth and sixth tee, the reward is the walk up the sixth fairway. Cresting the hill reveals a visual bombshell, a green set against a backdrop of the bay.

The drivable par-4 14th hole and the reachable par-5 17th hole highlight the back nine. Sandy Hills Links might not be on the bucket list of most Americans, but it sure should be.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Related Links
Céad Míle Fáilte" -- a hundred thousand welcomes -- is the Gaelic greeting that visiting golfers warmly receive when they set foot on Ireland's auld sod. For a distinctive, weeklong, links vacation that you would welcome, I recommend you tee it up on the auld sod that lies along the northernmost coast of the Republic of Ireland, and then follow that coast into Northern Ireland.
3 Min Read
Jason Scott Deegan offers 10 tips for first-timers looking to make their Irish golf vacation a success.
4 Min Read
American golfers know certain golf courses in Ireland by name even if they haven't played them. Take Ballybunion, Lahinch, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, for example. But there are plenty of Irish links that aren't household names in the U.S. yet -- but they should be. Jason Scott Deegan offers up 10 of them, including Tralee, County Sligo, Enniscrone, Rosapenna and Portstewart.
5 Min Read
My first trip to Carne Golf Links was one of many highlights during my recent 10-day journey across northwest Ireland.
5 Min Read
Latest Popular Content
5 Min Read
November 20, 2021
Help the golfer in your life shoot lower scores, look and feel better than ever this holiday season with these eight golf gifts.
18 Min Read
January 10, 2022
We tallied more than 320,000 reviews in 2021. Here are the courses you and your fellow golfers loved best.
1 Min Read
January 10, 2022
More than 40,000 reviews have been tallied to determine California's best public golf courses based on our community of reviewers.
By Golfers' Choice
2 Min Read
December 20, 2021
Golf course news & notes: December, 2021.
Carved by time between some of the oldest and newest mountain ranges in North America lies La Quinta Resort & PGA WEST, a world famous golf resort just minutes from Palm Springs and Palm Desert, California. Challenge your game on 90 holes of championship golf designed by three golf legends.
4 Min Read
November 30, 2021
The Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am "Annie's Revenge", one of the Caribbean's best pro-ams, introduces the fun and the sun of Rose Hall near Montego Bay.
5 Min Read
November 2, 2021
Some U.S. cities have frighteningly few public-access courses for its residents. If you like variety, you may not want to live in these metros.
Load More
Now Reading
Go for a thrill ride on the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Ireland