Looks like this topic has been pretty well-covered, but at the risk of sounding too Tom Coyne-y, I do want to make an impassioned plug for Carne. While only a few-hour drive from Dublin, Carne feels like it’s in the most remote corner of the universe - perched against the sea on the northwestern tip of Ireland in surroundings that feel more like Mars than Earth. @Soly covered it well on his trip there last year, though caught it on a particularly windy day and left without, in my view, experiencing it at its peak. I was lucky enough to be the first one out on a glorious summer day - temps in the 70s and a steady breeze, but nothing gale-force. The entire feel of the place is surreal, and the golf course is as quirky as it gets. It’s not so much a test against par as it is an out-of-body golf experience, where sheep outnumber golfers, and the unspoiled, green terrain rolls for miles against the sea under an seemingly endless sky. You should play it because you will remember it. There is no other place like it.
Definitely looks like most of you covered it well. We had a 12-pack of guys go over a few years back. Lahinch, Tralee, Waterville are absolute musts along Ballybunion - if your able play a 2nd 18 at Ballybunion on the Cashen Course. Probably the toughest relatively short course I’ve played in my life (although we did play in 30 mph winds). If you’re flying in/out of Dublin, so your absolute best to try to play Portmarnock Golf Club (not Portmarnock Links) - we finished our trip there and the golf history drips off that place - it ended up being my favorite course.
Lastly, if you’re going to make sure to hit one amazing pub, go to Gus O’Connors in Doolin (near Lahinch) - the ultimate Irish pub experience.
Great point - second Cashen - that whole place was a blast. They have a great deal usually where you can do old and then cashen for 200 euro all in or something.
I was there in Feb and played both courses. Fantastic. I’d recommend staying at the portmarnock hotel. It has a nice course on sight too. Good warm up
I’ll be in Ireland in July and am playing Old Head for the first time. Though not as historic or traditional it appears to be a great course. I played Lahinch in July of 2016 when I was there last and that place was incredible. I was there with my dad and uncle on a day that was 73 and sunny with strong winds. Couldn’t have asked for a better golf experience.
Played Old Head a few weeks ago for the first time - mind blowing. Definitely stump for a caddy (£80 for 2 of you plus tip) as they are essential given the sight lines, bizarre winds and tricky greens. Possibly the best collection of par 3s in the world?
Also played Cork GC and FOTA - former a great ‘normal’ club with great views across the Estuary, latter a standard resort course and worth missing IMO.
Do you recommend one caddie per player or one between the two of us?
Standard practice is one caddy per man. It’s worth it.
Irish Open heading to Lahinch in 2019! I can’t wait to see how the pros play it, though I suspect they will have to call it a Par 70 or 71 (no way you can call number 4 a Par 5, nor can you lengthen it).
Back from my Ireland trip and just wanted to thank everyone for the insight, was a huge help in planning. We ended up playing RCD, Island Golf Club, Corballis Golf Club, Portmarnock, County Louth and this course right next to County Louth called Sea Point Golf. The last course we played on a lark, we ended earlier and didn’t feel like doing any sightseeing and honestly I thought it wasn’t too far off from Louth as far as quality for a lot less money, I think we paid like 50 EUR each. It’s not historic or anything but I’d recommend it for the money.
As for the other courses RCD was a breathtaking course as far as visuals and holes that really challenged your shot making, but I was disappointed in the condition of the course. Of course it’s been unusually hot there this year but the turf was like a rock, no give at all even when hitting from the fairways. Still, it was one of those once in a lifetime experiences and I’m glad I made the drive up there from Dublin. Also h/t to @Soly for the Railway Café suggestion for lunch though, that place hit the spot.
I’d have to say I really enjoyed Island Golf the best out of all of them. It wasn’t the longest of the courses and not as many blind shots as an RCD, but at least for me it was the most enjoyable. I thought it was a good honest challenge of your game that forced you to hit it straight and when the weather kicked in it got really interesting. That said, none were bad, all six of the courses were among the best I’ve ever played for sure.