- February 7, 2021 // The Consummate Pro
One of the questions that we get asked most often is, “What courses in Ireland should we play first”? This is a question that doesn’t have a simple answer. So we always spend some time with our clients, initially discussing the various options for their Ireland golf vacation. In this post we will review just some of these.
When looking to take a golf vacation in Ireland, it is best to focus on one or two parts of the country. Ireland is geographically very small, however our roads, although greatly improved, present challenges where links golf is concerned. Therefore, we recommend that you divide the country up into four parts, which roughly equates to a north, south, east and west tour. The northern part of the country, including Donegal constitutes one. The west coast from Sligo to the Shannon estuary represents another. Then you have the south-west corner, and finally, Dublin and the eastern seaboard. There are, or can be, some overlaps, but broadly speaking, you won’t go far wrong with this broad division.
In choosing which area(s) to focus on, a good proportion of our clients come to us with some bucket-list courses they want to tick off. These suggestions may have come from friends or family, or folks that have taken a golf vacation in Ireland before. They may have come from golf magazines, locker rooms, or even from the TV. Either way, they are all valid. Even the best golf courses in Ireland, the ones that have hosted The Open, the Irish Open or the Ryder Cup, are accessible and playable, by the ‘average’ golfer. The most important piece of advice can often come from your caddie, and that is what tee box to play off. In Ireland this can genuinely be the difference between a great day on the links, and reloading at the turn! We are here to guide you towards the best possible golf vacation in Ireland that you can have. We have played all of these great courses, and know them intimately. Trust me, it is not in our interest for you to have a bad experience!
This five-night, six round tour includes the heavyweights of Royal County Down and Royal Portrush. In addition, you also get to play the superb Portstewart, Castlerock and Ardglass golf clubs as well. Pure links golf at its finest. Furthermore, your accommodation is first-class. You’ll enjoy two nights at the Slieve Donard Resort adjacent RCD, and four nights in Belfast city, at the Merchant Hotel. This is a compact tour, with minimal hotel moves, that hits the best golf courses in Northern Ireland. In fact if you would like to read more about taking a Northern Ireland golf trip, we have a dedicated Blog Post on Northern Ireland that you can read here. If you arrive via Dublin airport, you could easily extend this trip by a couple of days. Why not include County Louth golf club (Baltray), or one of the Dublin links golf courses such as The Island or Portmarnock. Alternatively, you could extend the trip into the north-west, and include some world-class golf in Donegal by playing at Ballyliffin, Rosapenna, Portsalon or Nairn & Portnoo. For that particular trip you should take a look at our “North-West Swing”. If you are interested in reading more about the North-West of Ireland then you might be interested in this Blog Post. The options in this part of Ireland are numerous, and we highly recommend a Northern Ireland golf trip for many reasons. Next, let’s take a look at the west coast, the majestic Wild Atlantic Way coastline of Ireland.
The Atlantic sea coast of Ireland is as dramatic as it is beautiful. The thunderous waves that hit the Irish coast have had a significant hand in shaping some of our best golf courses, and also in causing them increasing damage. Some of the best golf courses in Ireland can be found on the west coast, seen perfectly in our “Wild Atlantic Way Tour”. This trip includes five challenging links courses in the shape of Doonbeg, Connemara, Enniscrone, Carne and County Sligo. We include four nights at the fabulous Mount Falcon Estate in Ballina, as well as two in the Lodges at Doonbeg.
Again, minimal hotel moving for maximum relaxation time, and an array of word-class golf. The west coast is probably the one part of Ireland that sees fewest overseas visitors, but as far as golf vacations in Ireland go, it certainly punches above its weight. Again, this golf vacation could be extended by adding Lahinch at one end or some of the Donegal courses on the other. This may depend on your port of arrival as well as the overall amount of time you have for your golf vacation. We have a more detailed Blog Post on the Wild Atlantic Way here.
Next, let’s head to the famous south-west corner of Ireland, home to some of the best golf courses in the world, and some of its most famous names.
This tour really epitomises the very best of golf in this part of Ireland. When you are teeing it up at the likes of Lahinch, Doonbeg, Ballybunion, Tralee, and Waterville, you know it is going to be a very good week. Add two nights at Doonbeg, and four in the heart of Irish tourism in Killarney, and you know this will be a golf vacation in Ireland to remember. This is a tour with some of the best golf courses in Ireland included, with quality all the way. However, if you are looking for a slightly different experience, then our “Southern Charms” tour is also one to consider.
Sticking in the south-west, adding Dooks, The Old Head Golf Links, and Cork Golf Club, to Ballybunion, Waterville and Tralee, you have a great golf experience. The accommodation offering again places you at the heart of Killarney Town. However, because of the inclusion of Old Head and Cork Golf Club, it makes sense to spend time in Cork city. For this itinerary, we love to put guests in one of our favourite properties on the island, at Hayfield Manor.
If time is not a major concern, you will have gathered that you could combine these two south-west trips to create one awesome tour. Many of our clients do just that, and in fact it is one of the most popular golf vacations that we offer. Please speak to us if you would like to create a bespoke golf vacation in Ireland for you. If you are looking for a little more detail about taking a golf trip to the south-west of Ireland then you might be interested in this Blog Post.
Finally, lets’ take a look at the East coast region, with Dublin at its heart. Some of Ireland’s most historic links courses can be found on the east coast, and the Dublin & East Coast tour includes them all.
The Dublin region is another popular destination for golf vacations in Ireland. The majority of golfers coming to Ireland will fly into Dublin airport. So logistically, these courses are right on your doorstep. In fact, the distance from Dublin Airport Arrivals to the Portmarnock Golf Club, is a mere 6miles. This tour puts you in the heart of Dublin city at the Brooks Hotel. Situated just off the famous Grafton Street, you could not be any closer to the action.
The courses are equally accessible. In addition to Portmarnock, Royal Dublin is a 15-minute drive from the hotel and the Island Golf Club is no more than 45-minutes away. Include the County Louth Golf Club (Baltray) and the sublime European Club, and you have a feast of links golf. This tour could also be extended quite easily. Royal County Down is less than a two-hour drive from Dublin for example. Clients often play RCD as a day trip, particularly if the rest of their golf vacation in Ireland is based around Dublin. If you would like to read a little more on each of these great golf courses, you might be interested in our Blog Post on the Dublin Links Golf Courses.
In determining what golf vacation in Ireland is the right one for you, there is no perfect answer. Time, budget, ability, location, season and numerous other factors all play a part in the decision-making process. However, no matter which area of Ireland you eventually choose, you can be guaranteed one thing – a fantastic time!