When architect Pat Ruddy saw the expanse of untouched linksland beyond and around the Old, he advised the club to move with all haste and build a second course on it before they were prevented from doing so by environmentalists. Ruddy and former Walker Cup player Tom Craddock did the honours, and created a 7,200-yard monster layout that opened in 1995.
Despite running alongside and amid the Old in places, the Glashedy is on a completely different scale. The holes are more dramatic from start to finish, while those on the higher ground plough through the duneland towards greens with severe borrows, often flanked by penal bunkering. For golf on a grand scale, and if you like a sense of drama, this is the course for you.
Depending on the weather and which set of tees you are using, it can be a brutal test. The first par five, the 4th, provides a taste of what will follow. The fairway changes direction at least twice as it winds a sinuous path towards a green fronted by a swale with apparently magnetic qualities.
The following hole is a beautiful short hole played from an elevated tee with the Glashedy Rock, Ballyliffin’s answer to Turnberry’s Ailsa Craig, providing a memorable backdrop. To this golfer at least, it is a much superior hole to the next par three, the 7th, which is played from the top of a gargantuan sand hill to a green beside a pond at least 100 feet below. It is undoubtedly a dramatic hole, but whether it is in keeping with a seaside course such as this is another question and judging a strong wind when the ball is in the air for so long can be little more than a lottery.
Depending on the weather and which set of tees you are using, The Glashedy can be a brutal test.
Better, though, is to come on the back-nine stretch commonly regarded as the Glashedy’s strongest. Collectively, this inward half measures a truly monstrous 3,884 yards and with only a single par three, eight of the holes measure in excess of 390 yards.
But if the 10th and 11th suggest a lack of variety, that impression is dismissed by the next, which turns abruptly right and gently rises towards a green in a dell. Then a par five snakes down a corridor between the dunes before respite in the shape of the short 14th. Much more hitting is still to be done, though, and having walked off the final green the modern and well-appointed clubhouse is a particularly welcome sight.
Those who have played both courses in the same day will be even more ready for rest and refreshment, which is best achieved with a seat by the window in the first-floor bar with a pint of Guinness in hand. From there it is possible to look right across the links and ponder what might have been – or, of course, bask in the glow of the memory of a rare birdie or two.