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10 Great Reasons For a Golf Vacation to Ireland

February 2, 2015

Overshadowed by golf crazy Scotland, Ireland has its own special appeal and has emerged as one of the game’s great golf travel destinations. Impressive big-name courses, short driving distances and quaint, walkable, golf villages are a few of the many appealing attributes in Ireland. If you haven’t considered Ireland as a golf vacation possibility, here are 10 reasons why you need to tee up in the “Emerald Isle.”

1. World-Class Golf Courses — Peruse just about any Top 100 courses to play in the world and Ireland is strongly represented with phenomenal layouts like Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Old Head Golf Links, Royal Portrush, Tralee, Waterville, Killarney and Trump International Ireland, just to name a few.

2. Great Designs by Noted Architects — An eclectic group of course designers have fashioned the courses in Ireland, including Harry Colt, Ron Kirby, Robert Trent Jones Sr., and Eddie Hackett.

3. Short Travel Distances — You won’t have the odometer on your rental car spinning wildly or have to endure long, arduous van or bus rides in Ireland, because many of the courses are not far from each other. In the southwest, from Shannon Airport its only a 45 minute drive to Lahinch, two hours to Tralee, Ballybunion, Waterville and Killarney and 2 1/2 hours to Old Head. In the north, Royal County Down is only a two hour drive to Royal Portrush and Enniscrone is 45 minutes from County Sligo Golf Club and 70 minutes from Carne Golf Links.

4. Engaging Golf Villages — Watching locals and visitors carry their clubs through town is inspiring and reminds us all how much we love the wonderful game of golf. Walkable villages like Bushmills, home to the Old Bushmills Distillery; Portrush, where Royal Portrush Golf Club is located; and Donegal, which is brimming with shops and restaurants, embrace the game of golf in many engaging ways.

5. Fantastic Music and Fabulous Pubs — After a full day of golf, nothing will put you in a better mood than decidedly upbeat, toe-tapping traditional Irish music. You can find great music throughout the country. One of the best places to listen and enjoy is the city of Sligo in County Donegal, which is renowned for its musician sessions in local pubs and clubs. Pubs, of course, are everywhere in Ireland. If you’re looking for a great selection and inventory of pubs, head to Dublin’s Temple Bar District.

6. Sumptuous Food and Drink — While Irish cooking is often overlooked, it has evolved in recent years. You can find top chefs in Dublin preparing Wild Atlantic Salmon, trout and oysters to perfection. Traditional specialties not to be missed on your visit are Irish stew, soda bread, bacon and cabbage, farmhouse cheese and Colcannon (kale and potatoes). If you love beers and ales to celebrate a round of golf, some of Ireland’s most popular brews include Guinness, Harp Lager, Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale and Murphy’s Irish Red and Stout.

7. Castles and More Castles — For castle lovers, Ireland is paradise. There are more than 340 castles dotting Ireland’s verdant green countryside in various states of condition and ruin. Among the most popular to visit are Blarney Castle in southern Ireland; Bunratty Castle in the southwest and Ashford Castle in County Galway.

8. Cliffs of Moher — A great reprieve from golf, these spectacular and inspiring cliffs in County Clare rise 390 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. The panoramas are stunning and you can see the Aran Islands in the distance.

9. Fun and Bustling Cities and Towns — Well planned and easy to navigate, Irish cities and towns are treasure troves for history buffs and you never have to walk far to find a friendly pub or restaurant. Among the more popular places to visit are Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Blarney, Killarney and Dingle.

10. Excellent Hotels and B & B’s — Major resorts like Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in Newcastle (next to Royal County Down), Trump International Golf Links-Hotel Ireland near Doonbeg, Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort near Limerick, K Club near Dublin, Lough Erne near Enniskillen and Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort feature great golf and first class accommodations. Ireland also has a fantastic selection of clean, economically priced B&B’s where you can enjoy a delicious full Irish breakfast in the morning before you head out to play. Better still, many of the B&B’s are situated within easy walking distance of pubs and restaurants.