just play portmarnock over and over and over
Most people like making Killarney their “home base.” If you don’t want to stay in remote places, that’s the best idea. But I traveled and stayed all around Kerry playing as far south as Waterville and as far north as Ballybunion. The B&B’s and Airbnb’s that I booked were perfect for me.
Must-play Courses (South to North)
- (Tom is the MAN! You’ll love staying with him.)
Ceann Sibeal (Dingle Golf Course)
Must see towns/beaches:
Skellig Rocks (even if just from the shore/cliffs and not on the water)
Inch Beach (near Dingle)
Town of Dingle
A walk along the beach in Ballyheigue
A walk along Banana Beach (the one that runs below and just north of Tralee GC)
Town of Ballybunion
Let me know if you have any other questions! I drove all around Co. Kerry just last year.
You must hit this restaurant for breakfast or lunch before you play:
The owner was my caddie the first time I played at RCD. Young guy, a tremendous player, and he opened this restaurant shortly after I met him. I went back later this summer, and was BLOWN AWAY by the breakfast. I was just visiting it because I knew the owner, but honestly I still think about “The Vic” that I had. It was some kind of eggs Benedict thing (tried finding the actual ingredients online but couldn’t track it down). It’s super close to the entrance to the club (walkable) and if you get a chance to meet Steven, tell him I sent you.
sounds fantastic, thanks man
I second mcriblet on Dingle. My wife and I went to Ireland last summer for vacation (not a golf trip), and spent three nights in Dingle. She shooed me out to play 9 holes at Ceann Sibeal and it was great. The town itself was outstanding. Approximately 1,500 people and about 50 pubs, and we sampled most of them. The peninsula is gorgeous as well and not nearly as crowed as Ring of Kerry or Cliffs of Moher. Can’t recommend that area highly enough.
Was recently over there, not for a golf trip, but snuck a couple of rounds in with my dad. We played Doonbeg and Portmarnock, two courses that have already been mentioned in this thread but are absolutely worth it. We had a caddie at Portmarnock, Jim, who enhanced the experience so much. Two hacks like us felt like legitimate golfers, and with his help navigating the course, actually went lower than our handicaps which made the unbelievable course that much more enjoyable.
First birdie in Ireland was on 13 banked off the back dune. Such a great hole.
Honestly, Newcastle itself is a bit of a dump. It’s a faded Victorian seaside town that only people who can’t afford cheap holidays in Spain go to now, so it’s mainly amusement arcades and bad fish & chip restaurants (though I’d take Soly’s recommendation if he’s been there).
It is, however, at the foot of the Mourne Mountains which, while moderately beautiful in the right weather, are pretty well known as the subject of many a tune and even the inspiration for Narnia, as CS Lewis lived there as a boy. They also shoot a fair amount of Game of Thrones round there as it doubles for The North (GoT is almost entirely filmed in Northern Ireland, if you’re a fan). As an American used to pretty large scale topography, you’ll find the mountains themselves are so so. There are only about 6 peaks. But if you have the time maybe take a wander round Tollymore Forest Park. And Downpatrick is just down the road, where St Patrick is actually buried, so you can say to people “I’ve seen his grave” next St Patrick’s Day.
Good to know, thanks for the insight. Yeah we’re playing in the afternoon so figured we’d try to fit in some tourism stuff before that if there was anything worth doing, but good to know we’re not really missing anything if we take our time getting up there from Dublin.
The more interesting stuff is on the north coast, her Royal Portrush (Open venue 2019). Things like the Giants Causeway are unique in the entire world. Its a trek up there though. An extra 90 mins - 2 hours from Dublin.
Belfast is awesome for a night out though.
Played Adare Manor (didn’t stay on the property) and loved it.
General Ireland advice: bring waterproof shoes and a jacket that can fold up really small in your bag. Look into getting a VAT card so you can get (most) of your taxes back at the airport. In Dublin a 48 hour pass on the on/off bus tour can be easier than taking cabs and take the Gaol tour, it’s pretty interesting. Also, read “A Course Called Ireland” before you go. Should get you fired up for your trip.
thanks for the rec, i’ll have to check that book out
For those who have gone is getting a caddy for these courses worth it? I’ve heard conflicting things.
Yes. If you can afford it I’d always recommend a caddy.
There are a few reasons, the most mundane of which is practical - they tell you where to aim, give you a line on the green and overall help you score better. They also carry your bag, which is obvious, but remember very few high end links courses in Ireland have buggies so if you’re not used to carrying a full 18 holes you’ll probably need one.
To me, however, the practical is only 20% of their value. They enrich the experience with stories, about the course, the club history, people who’ve played there, local colour. And if you are chill and let them know you want to relax and enjoy yourself they’ll relax too. They take a lead from you so formal if you are, cracking funnies if you are.
And this to me is the real value. I played Royal Portrush with my mate and the fun we had with our two old caddies was outrageous. Betting, name calling, gamesmanship. I’ve never laughed as much on a golf course and 18 months later what I really remember is that fun. Best day ever.
Typical comment from my caddy. [On the tee after I’d spooned one into the boonies]
Me: Will I find that?
Caddy: Son, you could wrap that ball in bacon and a fucking dog couldn’t find that.
haha that’s great, I think I’ll have to do that at least once.
In Dublin over the weekend, and was looking for a cheap round of links golf on Saturday. Family friend recommended Corballis. It was so #pure I woke up at 6AM the next morning to head out there and play it again. My flight home was at 2:30 in the afternoon…
nice, yeah thinking of adding that to my itinerary, looks like a great course and at a fraction of some of the courses nearby.
If you are in the Dublin area, take a look at Powerscourt. My wife and I stayed there this summer. I didn’t get to play it but we walked from the resort to the gardens up the street (which you should also check out) and the place looked absolutely pure. It’s parkland but I kicked myself for not playing it (I had played RCD earlier in the week).