Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Old Tom Morris statue
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Old Tom Morris statue
Old Tom Morris stands guard at his links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Old Tom Morris links - hole 14
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Old Tom Morris links - hole 14
Dunes surround the par-3 14th hole on the Old Tom Morris links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills links - hole 3
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills links - hole 3
The par-3 third on the Sandy Hills links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort plays 188 yards from the tips. Jason Scott Deegan, Golf Advisor
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills links
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills links
This rugged view from the Sandy Hills links looks over the Old Tom Morris links to the clubhouse at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Ireland. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills links - hole 6
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills links - hole 6
The par-4 sixth hole at the Sandy Hills links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort climbs uphill, then falls to this green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills links - hole 7
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills links - hole 7
Any score from aces to triples is possible on the par-3 seventh hole on the Sandy Hills links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills - scenic
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills - scenic
The Sandy Hills links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort is as scenic as it is difficult. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - hotel
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - hotel
The accommodations at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort are comfortable. Courtesy of Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Graeme McDowell
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Graeme McDowell
Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell plays his approach to the sixth green on the Sandy Hills links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort. Courtesy of Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in County Donegal, Ireland offers a rare pair of fine accommodations and links golf

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.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries 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 @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Related Links

It's not easy to get to the Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort, located along the northern coast of Ireland. It takes more than four hours from Dublin Airport and even longer from the Shannon Airport in southwest Ireland. But those who make the journey discover 45 holes of links golf bliss, Jason Deegan writes.
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in County Donegal, Ireland offers a rare pair of fine accommodations and links golf