Many years ago, when golfers initially thought of a golf trip to Ireland, it was heavily focused on the southwest corner of the Emerald Isle. The links courses of Ballybunion, Lahinch, Waterville and the relatively new Arnold Palmer design at Tralee were the cornerstone of most trips to the region. During the intervening years much as changed. Ireland is definitely no longer a one trick pony for golf vacations.
Due to the plethora of choices to create a memorable week-long golf trip to Ireland, these are my Top 3;
Dublin & Northern Ireland – Over the years Dublin Airport has launched a number of nonstop flights to various cities around the USA. As a result, it serves as a very convenient entry point for golf trips to Northern Ireland and the twin gems of Royal County Down and Royal Portrush. Royal County Down is historically in the Top 10, or quite often Top 5 in the World 100 Courses. Not to be outdone, Royal Portrush hosted The 148th Open in 2019 after a 68-year absence and is scheduled to host it again in 2025. On the north coast of Ireland are the wonderful links courses of Portstewart & Castlerock which round out a relaxing stay in the Portrush area. It is important to note that Dublin is not only a transit point but an integral part of the trip with Portmarnock amongst a number of wonderful links to enjoy as you visit the Irish capital at the beginning or end of your trip.
Northwest Ireland – In some respects, the new kid on the block, but one with impressive credentials…is Northwest Ireland. For many years, those in the know would declare it on a par with other regions of Ireland for golf, but very often visiting golfers would overlook it. That is quickly changing as the new Tom Doak course, St. Patrick’s Links at Rosapenna (#55 in the world 6 months after opening) and the Gil Hanse refurbishment of Narin & Portnoo are experienced and recommended to friends. The supporting courses in this region are excellent, from Ballyliffin (2 courses) and Rosapenna (2 additional courses) to the likes of Enniscrone and Connemara. It is a region which has been blessed with many great golf experiences, which the golfing world is starting to realize they have been overlooking.
Southwest Ireland – PerryGolf has historically named this selection as “Classic Ireland” for it was the first genuine rotation of courses for international visitors. Over the years, the original four courses have witnessed the addition of two new creations; Old Head and Doonbeg. Old Head shall forever be one of the most spectacular locations in the world to be home to a golf course, high on the cliffs looking out across the Atlantic. Golf trips are not complete without premium accommodations and travel experiences, another area which has flourished over the years, with some excellent hotels in Killarney which serves as a hub for much of that region.
Ireland is a world class golf destination. There is a warmth in the welcome at all of the courses you may choose to play. The caddies, the pints of Guinness and the general ambience is something which is hard to describe, but you know it when you are in the middle of it, and then you wonder why you waited so long to experience it for yourself.
Gordon Dalgleish, PerryGolf President