Ireland golf packages and vacations delivers the ultimate golfing experience. Although not the “home” of golf, many would agree that the soul of the game lies here on the Emerald Isle, perhaps in the cemetery next to the first tee at Ballybunion! The other classic links of the southwest, including Lahinch, Waterville, Tralee, and Old Head also need no introduction, but many Ireland golf aficionados will actually head north from Shannon, seemingly to the end of the earth, to a course anointed by Sports Illustrated as the “best in the world!,” mysterious Carne Golf Links!
In fact, a series of formidable and thrilling links lines the Ireland northwest coast from Carne in Belmullet to remote Ballyliffin in northern Donegal. Included in these is a 9-holer that rivals Pebble Beach for scenery, Cruit Island Golf Club, which can be incorporated into your tour for about the cost of a few pints in some of the Dublin pubs. Speaking of which, Dublin sports a cluster of some of the finest golf courses in Ireland, and it is possible to play Royal County Down, County Louth Golf Club (2004 Irish Open host), Portmarnock Golf Club, and The European Club among others from a single base.
And don’t hesitate to include an extended stay in Northern Ireland, especially to play Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, courses where some of today’s giants like Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, and Darren Clarke honed their games. Cap it off with a visit to Northern Ireland’s most famous attraction, the Giant’s Causeway! Whatever Ireland golf tour you choose, you may physically return home, but may find that you have also left your soul on the Emerald Isle!
Think of a golf trip on Ireland’s West coast and you will imagine some of the most spectacular links courses in the world. Mountainous dunes, cavernous bunkers, rolling fairways- making for some of the best golf courses you will play in Ireland.
Connemara ( Ballyconneely) and Carne Links sit on the west coast while Enniscrone juts maybe the best kept secret in Irish golf. County Sligo (Rosses Point), host to the West of Ireland amateur golf championship and Donegal ( Murvagh) are courses that you will want to play again. And for good measure play Lahinch and you will return home with many lasting memories of the best of Ireland golf.
The North West Ireland Hidden Gems Golf Trip encompasses the rugged links courses of County Donegal, Ireland’s most north westerly county. Stretching from the links at Murvagh Donegal to Ballyliffin on the Inishowen Peninsula, this is golf in it’s purest and most natural state.
As you wind your way northwards through Donegal you will play Narin & Portnoo, Rosapenna and Portsalon before reaching Ballyliffin. For the golfer who is looking for a new challenge or for those who prefer to tee it off up on the lesser known courses, this is the Ireland golf trip for you.
This is arguably the most popular golf trip in Ireland. Here you will find a cluster of some of the most famous golf courses in Ireland, perhaps in the world. Ballybunion Old Course, one of Tom Watson’s favorite courses, The Arnold Palmer designed Tralee, Waterville, the spectacular Old Head as well as Doonbeg and Lahinch.
Dublin is unique among world capitals insofar as it offers such a wide variety of top quality golf courses, all within easy access of the city centre. Just a short journey north of the city, you will find the famous Portmarnock Golf Club and a little further on, The Island Golf Club.
The Royal Dublin Golf Club, located on an island reserve, is within minutes drive of the city centre. South of the city is Pat Ruddy’s wonderful links, The European Club, a magnificent layout featuring 20 holes! Druids Glen is close by, a uniquely Irish golf course with a heathland feel. And there are plenty more top courses to challenge you, The K Club, the Ryder Cup venue in 2006 and Irish Open venue in 2016 as well as Carton House ( Montgomerie course) which has also hosted the Irish Open in recent years.
Royal County Down (RCD) and Royal Portrush are the two “Royal” Courses hence the naming of this tour. RCD, renowned the world over for it’s iconic setting, is a recent Walker Cup venue and is named the world’s number 1 golf course by Golf Digest in 2016. Royal Portrush hosted the Irish Open in 2013 and will host the The British Open in 2019. Standing proudly beside such household names are Portstewart, Castlerock and the cliff-top gem at Ardglass. Ballyliffin Golf Club ( Glashedy & Old Courses) in County Donegal is within easy reach to make up an exhilarating week of top links golf in Northern Ireland.
There are so many moving parts to planning and executing the perfect golf trip to the Emerald Isle. There are so many what ifs to worry about.
Ireland might look small geographically, but narrow winding roads make traveling difficult. Don’t plan an ambitious itinerary chasing down all the top 100 golf courses. There are too many spread too far apart. Pick a section of the island to tour.
Golfers who land in Dublin can easily play around the city for a few days before heading north to Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down and Royal Portrush. Landing in Shannon is a perfect way to start a Southwest loop through Doonbeg, Lahinch, Ballybunion and Waterville. Or a northern loop can lead to the remote links of Enniscrone, County Sligo, Rosapenna and Ballyliffin.
Exchange money at your bank at home to avoid costly fees at the airport or overseas. The Republic of Ireland uses the euro. Northern Ireland uses the pound. Note the exchange rate between the two. The pound tends to be more expensive.
The best part of Ireland is its people. Hiring a caddie is a great way to enjoy the course, shoot a better score and learn about the country through a friendly four hours of conversation.
The best Irish golf trips last a week to 10 days. That way your group can explore the countryside and adjust to the time change. Don’t play golf every day. Take a day off somewhere in the middle. Even a group of guys will find Ireland’s tourist attractions interesting.
Bring two pairs of golf shoes, including a street golf shoe that can be worn on travel days or to the pub after the round. Don’t bring tennis shoes. That’s so American. Bring two electrical converters for charging electronics — one for you and one for your friend who will always be borrowing it.
Like the roads, the rental cars are small, so pack wisely. Bring layers. I always bring long underwear (even in summer) since cold rains can soak you to the bone. A high quality rain suit and at least one pair of rain gloves remains a must for wet weather.
No matter how good you sleep on the overnight flight, your body will still feel rotten by the time you land. The time difference is five hours later than Eastern Standard Time. The best way to beat jet lag is to power through it.
Rental cars overseas can be a hassle. The expensive surcharges for an automatic shift and a GPS unit are worth it. I always plan my days so I never drive after dark.