The Rosapenna Resort sits on the outskirts of Downings Village in County Donegal. Set along the shores of Sheephaven Bay with the Donegal Hills as its backdrop, Rosapenna is a beautiful place to play golf where you will be warmly welcomed by the owners, the Casey family who have owned the property since 1981. Comprising a 60-bedroom four-star hotel, leisure center, golf pavilion and now 81 holes of golf plus a practice facility that consists of 12 Par three holes, Rosapenna can genuinely be called a golfing mecca. The 36-hole Jack Nicklaus redesigned ‘St. Patrick’s’ was bought by the Casey family in November 2012 after the developer behind the project collapsed. What was originally two courses (Magheramagorgan and Trá Mór) designed by Eddie Hackett and former Royal County Down Assistant Professional Joanne O’Haire, were completed in 1996 but have never officially opened for play.
Golf in this part of Donegal dates back to 1891 when the Lord Leitrim conscripted Old Tom Morris to come to Donegal to assist with the design of its first links golf course. This duly opened in 1893 alongside a timber-framed hotel to accommodate the many visiting golfers to this part of Ireland.
The hands of some of the games most revered golf architects have had a part in shaping this piece of land at Rosapenna, but it is unquestionably Old Tom Morris, after whom a course is named, that had the most considerable influence. Vardon and Braid combined to add significant length to the original layout as well as adding numerous bunkers to the existing holes around about 1906, and Harry Colt made further additions in 1911. However, none of the subsequent architects made any changes to the greens, which were deemed to be near perfect as they were. Running to just under 7,000 yards off the Championship tees the Old Tom links can rightly hold its head high in this part of Ireland and no trip to Rosapenna is complete without taking advantage of a round.