Golf Trips to Ireland

Many thoughts come to mind when I think of my golfing experiences in Ireland – links golf (the word Links comes from the fact that the courses link the land to the sea). Humps and bumps, standing on a tee and not having a clue where to aim unless you have a caddy, pot bunkers you have to hit out sideways from, tall fescue, thorny gorse bushes, lots of wind, having to hit 5 irons from 100 yards, bump and run shots, the caddies' Irish accents, pub grub, Irish music, lots of sheep and the friendliest people you will ever meet! Where else will you find a golf course almost completely surrounded by water and 250 foot cliffs (Old Head), or hit across the edge of a cemetery (Ballybunion)? You probably won’t shoot your career round here but I can assure you that you will have a unique golf experience that you will enjoy telling your friends about when you return. Once you've experienced golf here, you will be keen to get back to the “Emerald Isle”!

Below you'll find some of the more popular courses in Ireland that my clients like to play. This is not a comprehensive list - there are many more outstanding courses in Ireland and I have arrangements with all of them. I put together a custom itinerary for each of my clients based on your specific requests, so please let me know which courses are on your "must play" list and I'll be sure to include them on your trip!

Ballybunion – Old Course

Co. Kerry, Ireland

Founded: 1893
Designer: Mother Nature, Tom Watson
Championship Length: 6,638 yards
PAR: 71
SSS (Course Rating): 73
Type: Links

The very name Ballybunion Golf Club, strikes a chord with golfing enthusiasts around the globe. Rated one of the ten best golf courses in the world, standing on the first tee at Ballybunion is every bit as awe inspiring as one could imagine in many respects, it's like standing on the first at the Old Course in St. Andrews. This is an experience long since yearned for don't duff it, don't slice it, don't hook it and whatever you do, don't put it into the graveyard!

Consistently rated as one of the world’s greatest golf courses, the Old Course offers the ultimate links golfing challenge. Difficult to play in the wind but always rewarding not least because of the scenery.

Ballybunion

Co. Kerry, Ireland

Founded: 1980
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Sr.
Championship Length: 6,194 yards
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): 74
Type: Links

The Cashen Course at Ballybunion is set on the same majestic links land as its elder sister. Upon observing the terrain for the first time, Trent Jones commented that this was "the finest piece of links land I have ever seen and perhaps the finest piece of links land in the world". With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the river on the other, the tumbling, undulating, free flowing design is beauty beyond description in words.

Info from www.ballybuniongolfclub.ie

Waterville

Waterville, Co.Kerry, Ireland

Founded: 1897 (1973 present course)
Designer: Eddie Hackett, John A. Mulcahy
Championship Length: 7,225 yards
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): 74
Type: Links

Waterville Golf Links in Kerry is one of the finest links golf courses in the world, never mind Ireland. Located on the Ring of Kerry, the surrounding scenery and quality of golf holes is breathtaking to say the least. The Waterville area and Ballinskelligs Bay also play an important role in the mythology and history of ancient Ireland. The granddaughter of Noah (of Ark fame) is reported to have landed in Ballinskelligs Bay, while the last of the mythical invaders, the Milesians, settled here in 1700 BC, leaving behind many archeological reminders. These rich legends combine with a serene location to form a mystical aura that visitors to Waterville can sense to this day.

Info from www.watervillegolfclub.ie

Lahinch

Lahinch, Co. Clare, Ireland

Founded: 1893
Designer: Old Tom Morris, Alister MacKenzie
Championship Length: 6,698 yards
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): 73
Type: Links

One of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland, Lahinch Golf Club is also one of the most respected links courses in the world. Set right on the Atlantic coastline, Lahinch is exposed to the ocean through all her moods and has been molded and shaped over the centuries by nature's harsh elements and an occasional touch of human genius. Lahinch, with its towering sand dunes, undulating fairways, rolling greens and fair share of blind shots, is the perfect natural golfing terrain a true links in the traditional meaning of the word.

Info from www.lahinchgolf.com

Tralee

The Barrow, Ardfert, Co.Kerry, Ireland

Founded: 1983 (present location)
Designer: Arnold Palmer
Championship Length: 6,806 yards
PAR: 71
SSS (Course Rating): 73
Type: Links

Representing the first European design of Arnold Palmer, Tralee Golf Club in southwestern Ireland is one of the most spectacularly beautiful golf courses you will ever encounter. And while beauty often masks certain deficiencies in a golf course, that is certainly not the case with Tralee. Having completed his masterpiece, Palmer commented: "I have never come across a piece of land so ideally suited for the building of a golf course. I am happy that we have one of the world's great links here".

Info from www.traleegolfclub.com

Doonbeg

Doonbeg, Co.Clare, Ireland

Founded: 2001
Designer: Greg Norman
Championship Length: 6,818 yards
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): TBA
Type: Links

Opened for limited play in the summer of 2001, Doonbeg Golf Links opened for general play in 2002 and has already taken its place among the great courses of the Irish southwest. Within the parish of Doonbeg in County Clare, the links land that remains untouched by time sits astride a rugged piece of Atlantic coastline and will soon rank with Ballybunion and Lahinch as one of the finest golf courses in Ireland.

Info from www.doonbeglodge.com

Old Head

Old Head, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland

Founded: 1997
Designer: J. Carr, R. Kirby, E. Hackett, P. Merrigan
Championship Length: 7,121 yards
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): 74
Type: Links

Designed by a combination of Ireland's golfing heroes and design experts, the Old Head Golf Links is quite simply one of the most remarkable developments ever conceived in the history of golf; an Atlantic promontory that will never be rivaled in terms of drama and beauty. The course rises hundreds of feet above dramatic cliffs, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on all sides and commanding the most spectacular views from almost every part

Info from www.oldhead.com

Dooks

Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Founded: 1889
Designer: Local Members
Championship Length: 6,071 yards
PAR: 70
SSS (Course Rating): 68
Type: Links

Dooks Golf Club represents traditional Irish links golf at its best. Though not renowned the world over like its near neighbor Ballybunion, Dooks offers the visitor a unique links experience in a majestic environment. Golf Course architect Donald Steele aptly assessed the course as follows "Dooks is a rare gem it has a special place in the annals of links golf and must be preserved at all costs. Its character typifies the true meaning of what this form of the game should represent."

Info from www.dooks.com

Portstewart

Portstewart, Co.Londonderry, Ireland

Portstewart is one of the few Clubs in Ireland with three 18 hole golf courses and each offers something different for the Golfer.

The Strand - PAR 72
A true championship links course. The jewel in Portstewart's crown.

The Riverside - PAR 68
Includes 9 new holes running down to the river - a perfect day out for the society golfer.

The Old Course - PAR 64
Along the rocky shore east of Portstewart where the Club was founded in 1894.

Info from portstewartgc.co.uk

Royal Portrush

Portrush, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Founded: 1888
Designer: Harry Colt (1933 redesign)
Championship Length: 6,845 yards
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): 73
Type: Links

The Dunluce course at Royal Portrush is one of the world's finest links courses. Known as the County Club when first formed in May 1888, it became the Royal County Club in 1892 and finally, Royal Portrush Golf Club in 1895, with the Prince of Wales as patron. The links has undergone many changes during the course of its existence. The initial nine holes were extended to eighteen by 1889, while the renowned golf architect, Harry Colt, designed the present course. Upon completion of his work at Portrush, Colt remarked that it represented his best ever layout.

Info from www.royalportrushgolfclub.com

Royal County Down

Newcastle, Co.Down, Ireland

Founded: 1889
Designer: Old Tom Morris
Championship Length: 7,037 yards
PAR: 71
SSS (Course Rating): 74
Type: Links

Royal County Down the very words are enough to send a shiver up your spine. Laid out beneath the imperious gaze of the Mountains of Mourne and enjoying a magnificent setting along the shores of Dundrum Bay, Royal County Down is truly one of the world's finest links golf courses. Designed by Old Tom Morris for the princely sum of four guineas back in 1889, Royal County Down, as well as being one of the most beautiful courses in the world, is also one of the most challenging.

Info from www.royalcountydown.org

Baltray

Co. Louth, Ireland

The late Frank Penninck wrote in an article in 1962 in the "Golfers Companion" referring to the Course as "natural unspoilt seaside territory with towering sand hills, murderous rough, and a rating of long holes that call for powerful hitting".

In more recent times the "Golf World" magazine was moved to observe: "County Louth is one of the best kept secrets of Irish golf. Sometimes also referred to as Baltray this has to be one of the most enjoyable Links in Ireland and undoubtedly represents superb value. There is not a weak hole on the course and some of the holes merit greatness".

The present course was designed in 1938 by the renowned Tom Simpson. The course is laid out in two loops covering some 190 acres with no two holes running in the same direction. The only exception being the 12th and 13th which run along the sea. It speaks highly for Simpson's design that he saw need to introduce only fifty bunkers in the course's defences the rest was taken care of by the natural terrain.

The 14th hole is regarded as the signature hole a short par four measuring only 332 yards you can drive all the way to the green and end up taking six or more, wondering what did you actually do that was wrong. The four par threes are superb. Averaging 160 yards it is seldom one will have a good score that does not include a par at each of these.

In 1985 the numerical order in which the holes were laid out was slightly altered to accommodate a new starting position. Other than that little has changed from 1938, until 2003 when the firm of Donald Steel and Company undertook a course upgrade under the guidance of Tom MacKenzie, himself an undoubted fan of Simpson's work. The changes although minimal have had a significant impact on the course and with the addition of some new Tees "Baltray" now measures over 7,000 yds thus bringing it in line with the modern game.

Info from countylouthgolfclub.com

The K Club

Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland

Founded: 1992
Designer: Arnold Palmer
Championship Length: 7,178 yards
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): 76
Type: Parkland

Set amongst 330 acres of lush Kildare countryside, the K Club is arguably the finest parkland golf course in Ireland. Designed by Arnold Palmer, the K Club has hosted the prestigious European Open since 1995 and will host the Ryder Cup in 2006, the first time the event will be staged in Ireland.

Info from www.kclub.ie

Portmarnock

Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, Ireland

Founded: 1894
Designer: W.C. Pickeman
Championship Length: 7,295 yards
PAR: 72
SSS (Course Rating): 74
Type: Links

Portmarnock Golf Club is universally acknowledged as one of the world's truly great links courses and having played it, you will understand why. Located on a small peninsula, which extends into the Irish Sea, Portmarnock is surrounded by water on three sides and laid out in serpentine fashion, with no two successive holes playing in the same direction. Unlike many courses in this respect, Portmarnock demands a continual discernment of wind direction.

Info from www.portmarnockgolfclub.ie

Need more info?

If you are interested in this trip or your own custom itinerary, please contact me. I can assure you my price will be the lowest you can find anywhere!