- June 2, 2022 // The Consummate Pro
A trip to Northern Ireland is sort of a pilgrimage for any avid golfer. This place is the home of golf, and the courses in Northern Ireland are like none you’ll find anywhere else on earth.
Old stone walls, centuries of history, and some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. It’s a haven for anyone looking to take a trip with the sole purpose of playing golf.
That said, a trip out of the country can be tough on the wallet. We’re going to look at some tips for your Ireland golf trip today, giving you a few pointers that could make the process a little easier.
Let’s get started.
1. Find Your Flight First
Interestingly, flights from North America to Ireland tend to be some of the cheapest trans-Atlantic options available. If you get the flight out of the way first, you’ll have a clear idea of how much you can budget for everything else.
Further, you can plan your trips around the flight dates, making things a little more streamlined as you plot your course.
2. Pick One or Two “Dream Courses”
Everyone’s got a few dream courses that they’re dying to play. You’d be hard-pressed to hit all of the great courses in Ireland, though. Plus, tee times might be difficult to get and fit into your busy travel schedule.
So, we recommend finding one or two at the top of your bucket list and planning for those. Missing out on the more famous courses isn’t as big of a deal, considering what we cover in the next section.
3. Little-Known Courses are Excellent
Many of the lesser-known courses in Northern Ireland are still in the wheelhouse of the ones you dream about. There are plenty of courses you’ve never heard about that are older than the first courses in the United States.
These options are often slightly cheaper as well, giving you more of a budget to work with. What’s more, is that they’re peppered around Ireland so you can fit them into your journey without too much trouble.
4. Start Getting Tee Times Now
After you get your plane tickets, start figuring out your tee times at various courses. Popular courses are typically booked up 12-18 months in advance, so the sooner you book the better.
Plus, Irish courses often have different procedures and expectations than you’re used to. Some courses, like St. Andrews in Scotland, operate by using a lottery. It’s difficult to get in, and you might not even get in if you enter the lottery. In Ireland, the likes of Royal County Down and Royal Portrush tend to release their availability for the following year in the preceeding May, and will often sell-out in a matter of days.
It pays to use an experienced tour operator like The Consummate Pro, just for this knowledge alone as to how, and when, you need to secure these tee times for your Ireland golf trip.
That’s just some of the golf courses, though. Others may have their own peculiarities that are worth knowing about.
5. 18 Isn’t Everything
Don’t shy away from the 9-hole courses. Some people tend to think of these courses as lower quality, but they’re not.
Some of Ireland’s 9-hole courses are among the most beautiful and enjoyable to play. Plus, you can always make your way around twice for a full 18-hole round of golf. These smaller courses are also more affordable in most cases.
The trophy, championship courses tend to come with higher fees and different expectations that can make them pretty costly, but they are reveered for a reason.
6. Get Your Handicap Up
If you’re taking the trip seriously and want to play the greatest courses of all time, you might need to have a certain handicap. These handicap requirements are nothing serious, but they just ensure that you’re aware of course etiquette and can keep the pace of play to a certain standard.
Further, knowing and proving your handicap might allow you to play in various tournaments or Opens that small courses offer.
7. Purchase Packages or Play Challenges
Ask about a package that takes you around various courses at reduced rates. Some courses are affiliated with one another or have a 2nd course on property such as at Royal County Down and Royal Portrush which are great experiences, but at a fraction of the cost of their ‘Championship’ big brothers.
Further, there are often tournaments throughout the year that allow players to go around various courses and compete. You could save hundreds of dollars and get a very unique experience by playing these.
8. Play Where You Stay
Some hotels pair with golf courses and offer combined rates for rounds and rooms. That means you can stay at a particular hotel for cheaper and play the local courses for cheaper, too.
If you’re on any kind of budget, these can often be great options. You can bundle up with three or four different golf locations at a fraction of the price you otherwise would and use one property as a hub.
This is also a great option for those who want to travel to Northern Ireland but aren’t too familiar with the location. For example, you might want to explore this option if you only have one or two locations you’re dying to see.
The rest of the time, then, you can enjoy yourself without having to rush through a foreign country to meet various tee times!
9. Fight The Urge to Push It Off
This one is more of a general piece of advice for all of the travelers out there.
It’s far too easy to push a trip like this off until another year. In many cases, though, that other year never comes. If you’re in a position where you can take a life-changing trip to Ireland, you should take it!
The regret of missing something so meaningful could stick around for a long time. There are always various reasons not to do something, but those reasons shouldn’t matter if you’re doing something truly meaningful to you.
If you’re not a lover of golf, then golf vacations might not be worth it. If you are a lover of golf (which we know you are), these are trips that you’ll never forget and you will want to book it now.
Want to Take an Ireland Golf Trip?
We hope our look at a Northern Ireland golf trip was insightful to you. There’s a lot more to learn about traveling to Ireland and hitting the links, though. We’re here to help!
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