I’m currently planning a trip to Ireland to do a week of golf/tourism in the greater Dublin area and was curious if anyone had any suggestions on what to do or not to do. I’ve already booked a couple of places based on the NLU boys’ stuff on their Ireland trip, Portmarnock and Island Golf, but still looking for other ideas/general advice on how to prepare as I’ve never really done a golf trip on this scale before. Generally we’re looking for just links courses so trying to avoid the more American style parklands stuff.
I also need suggestions…doing the southwest at the end of April but have a couple days in Dublin before heading down. Any hidden gems would be welcome…
Didn’t golf on the trip, but drove past on our way to the Cliffs of Moher. Only a few hours drive from Dublin. Would be a perfect combo to knock out a tourist destination and golf.
Respectfully, the Cliffs of Moher and Lahinch are not in the Dublin environs, but quite reachable from Galway. That said, Lahinch is my personal favorite Irish links (admittedly never played in Northern Ireland), and it is on the northern edge of a “southwest” trip but pretty convenient if you are flying via Shannon.
Around Dublin, make sure to include The Island and consider whether Co. Louth (aka Baltray) or the European are within a tolerable distance for you - figure close to 90 minutes north and south, respectively, from Dublin center.
I played Lahinch in October - one of the best golf experiences of my life. Monday morning, first round of the day. Got a caddie and went out with rental clubs into a 30mph wind as the sun was coming up (I was there for a wedding and just snuck out for this round). The views and the breeze and the smell of the sea and the shots you get to hit - just awesome. Get a caddie and you’ll get free history lessons, stories of the property, etc…really great golfing experience.
I played Ballybunion and Tralee in 2010 before flying over to Scotland to play Carnoustie, St. Andrews, Renaissance Club, Dornoch and Nairn. Ballybunion was my favorite of the bunch. Tralee’s Par 3 13th is one of the most memorable holes of golf I have ever played.
If you’re staying on the East Coast, make the trip up to Royal County Down. It deserves its rating.
Some like European Club. I personally didn’t love it, but it’s worth playing.
Malahide (town between Portmarnock and The Island) has a few decent pubs. Check out Gibney’s there. Traditional Irish pub with lots of TVs for sports and live music.
If you’re in Dublin Corballis Golf Links is a public course and an absolute gem - €20 green fees and some of the best geens in Ireland - the views aren’t bad either.
Yes, Tralee’s 13th is spectacular! So is the par 3 16th. The 12th is one of the hardest par 4s in the world with no water or OB. The entire back 9 is filled with gems.
Flying to Shannon in late June. First timer. Playing Lahinch or Doonbeg first, and then driving south to Killarney as home for 6 more days. Will bounce around from there before hitting Lahinch on the way out. Interested to hear others’ plans for this SW region.
Done the SW trip a few times and keep coming back. Lahinch, Doonbeg, Tralee, Ballybunion, Old Head, and Waterville are kind of cliche and it’s definitely a bit pricey to do them all, but tough to say it’s not worth it. Awesome vibe at Lahinch and Ballybunion, and the views at Tralee are incredible. Adare Manor and Killarney are nice parkland courses, and Dooks and Dingle are less flashy than the other links courses, but still pretty solid. Sightseeing-wise, Cliffs of Moher are awesome, and Ring of Kerry/Conor Pass are worth the detour if you have time
The Southwest has fabulous courses and if you have never been it is well worth your time. I confess I have never played Doonbeg (and never will, at least until it changes ownership) or Old Head, but all of the others mentioned are fantastic.
I will put in a plug for playing Cean Sibeal (aka Dingle) and staying in the town of Dingle for good restaurants and craic - it is certainly no secret, but it does have less tourist/plastic paddy nonsense than Killarney, and the Dingle peninsula is as spectacular as the Ring of Kerry but not as congested with tour buses. If you do end up staying there, you should also find time to play 9 at the Castlegregory Links, just the other side of the Conor Pass and basically on your way too/from Tralee.
For those who have done the southwest and love Irish links golf but want to save a few quid and see something a little more wild and remote, I highly recommend a trip to the northwest. Co. Sligo/Rosses Point is the gem of that area, Carne is the true wild west, Enniscrone and Donegal/Murvagh are solid, easily accessible links in the area, and 27 holes at Narin and Portnoon plus Cruit Island is a spectacular detour. Throw in the two Ballyliffin links (hosting this year’s Irish Open) and the two Rosapenna links way up north if you have that much time.
Good lord! Tralee and Ballybunion are MUSTS!!! Lahinch is fun but tough. Great views plus the goats. Killarney Golf & Fishing Club is a classic and has hosted the Irish Open. Enjoy!
appreciate all the responses on this, definitely a lot of stuff I hadn’t heard before
Only been to Ireland once, but played Sutton Golf Club when I was there. Absolutely incredible experience, hands down amazing. Easily accessible by train from downtown Dublin, and an awesome experience for Irish golf. Right on the coast, so really get the feel for all the different conditions. It changed from sunny to cloudy to sunny to raining sideways all in the front 9 we played. If you need it, the course provides clubs and has a very friendly proshop. 10/10 would recommend.
With respect to golf close to Dublin, has anyone played Powerscourt, specifically the West Course? I have not, and generally don’t seek out parkland courses in Ireland (because there are too many great links and not enough time as it is), but the David McLay Kidd podcast had me looking into his other courses and I realized this was one of his designs.
Definitely interested to hear if anyone had played here. Hoping to check it out in April, looks pretty solid
Ireland is, by American standards, bloody tiny. We’ve even gone and built a pretty swanky highway network over the past 20 years so these days getting from Dublin to any corner of the islands takes only a few hours.
So, with that in mind, take a look at Royal County Down. It’s in Northern Ireland but if you have a rental car it’s easily doable on a day trip. Getting out of Dublin City centre can be a ballache at the wrong time of day but once you’re on the motorway it’s under an hour to the border. And RCD is in a town called Newcastle, which is in the south side of N Ireland, near the border. (I say border but don’t sweat it, there is no vehicle stop or passport control so you won’t even know you’ve crossed it).
I’d leave 2 hours from Dublin but I’ve done it in an hour before. And it’s worth it.
Thanks, yeah I ended up booking a time at RCD, I initially tried to just keep the trip in the Dublin area but they had one tee time the week I’m there in June so I figured what the heck when’s the next time I’ll be able to play what is considered by some the best course in the world.
Anything in Newcastle or the surrounding area you’d recommend seeing?
Hadn’t heard of that one, thanks for the recommendation.