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A Trio of Great (and Quirky) Courses Across the Pond

Royal St. George's is not the only course on the other side of the Atlantic that has qualities that make it a bit different — but worth playing.
At Lahinch, if the goats are roaming about, then that's a sign that the weather is just fine. 

At Lahinch, if the goats are roaming about, then that's a sign that the weather is just fine. 

Lahinch Golf Club (Old), Lahinch, Ireland

Lahinch charms with titanic sandhills and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and of the Cliffs of Moher. Another key ingredient is the herd of goats utilized to forecast the weather. If they are huddled near the clubhouse, the foul stuff is on the way. Old Tom Morris’ 1893 design, coupled with Alister MacKenzie’s 1927 renovation and Martin Hawtree’s 2003 restoration form a seamless fit on ideal terrain, even as such relics such as the par-5 fourth (“Klondyke”) and the par-3 fifth (“Dell”) wow with their blind, old-fashioned quirk.

North Berwick Golf Club (West), North Berwick, Scotland

Bewilderment eventually leads to enchantment at North Berwick, the quirkiest of all the great courses. Home to the legendary "Redan” hole, the par-3 15th, this 143-year-old antique also serves up “Pit,” the par-4 13th, which features a low stone wall running parallel to the fairway and on a diagonal directly in front of the green; “Gate,” the par-4 16th with its bizarre double-plateau green; and a short par-4 18th where even a casual push could shatter car windows.

Prestwick Golf Club, Prestwick, Scotland

Possibly a quirkier course than even fan favorite North Berwick. Prestwick has always had its passionate admirers, as well as its fierce critics, who have deemed its archaic eccentricities as relics best confined to another era. Old Tom Morris left his St. Andrews home in 1851 to design a new 12-hole links in the west of Scotland and assisted the club in 1882-1883 when it expanded to 18 holes. The 345-yard, par-4 first hole (“Railway”) is one of the quirkiest in golf, with a stone wall and an active railway flush with the landing area’s right side. Other delightfully unusual Morris holes that survived are the par-5 third, (“Cardinal”); the par-4 13th (“Sea Headrig”); and the par-4 17th (“Alps”).