Four ‘must-play’ courses in Ireland & Scotland for 2017
Identifying your favorite golf courses is never easy, particularly when narrowing it down to just four. It’s a similar task to choosing your favorite child, which let’s be honest, is a topic that we all wish to avoid. Thanks to our expert travel professionals here at Carr Golf, we’ve put together a list of four ‘must-play’ courses for 2017 in the land of Ireland & Scotland, along with accommodation choices to provide you with a luxurious experience that match the quality of golf course.
Play: Old Head of Kinsale – Southwest Ireland
Occupying a peninsula extending into the Atlantic Ocean, Old Head Golf Links features some of the most breathtaking, panoramic vistas in the game. Whirling winds off the sea and rolling topography create stimulating natural challenges. Named the most spectacular course on the planet by LINKS magazine, Old Head combines stunning views with a thrilling layout for a truly memorable experience.
Joe Carr – our late founder – was part of the design team at Old Head, which also included Ron Kirby, former designer at Jack Nicklaus’ Golf Design Services; the late, great Eddie Hackett, former Irish golf professional and golf course designer; Paddy Merrigan, Australian course architect and agronomist; Liam Higgins, one of Ireland’s best-known golf professionals; and Haulie O’Shea, building contractor extraordinaire.
Out on the course keep an eye out for the remains of two lighthouses – built in 1667 and 1814 – near the seventh hole, one of the finest par-3s in Ireland. Another lighthouse, constructed in 1853, is located behind the 18th tee.
Stay: Perryville House
A charming Victorian overlooking the River Bandon, Perryville House delights guests from the moment they step inside. Built in 1810, the property was completely refurbished in the late 1990s. The classic bed-and-breakfast is known for its elegant aesthetic, delicious food and close proximity to world-class golf and beaches. Small details such as oil paintings, fresh cut flowers and scented candles add to the Irish country house’s charm.
Play: Royal County Down – Northern Ireland
As perhaps the ultimate example of links golf, Royal County Down topped Golf Digest’s list of “The World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” last year. Nestled under the gaze of towering Slieve Donard, the iconic course is known for its “bearded” bunkers, featuring overhanging lips of marram, red fescue and heather. The par-4 9th is one of the most photographed holes in the world and features a blind tee shot from an elevated tee and narrow, rolling fairway. It’s all the golf you’ll ever want.
The luxurious Slieve Donard Hotel and Spa encompasses six acres of immaculate private grounds at the foot of the Mountains of Mourne. Set between Royal County Down and the coastline, the Victorian hotel boasts lavish rooms and a topnotch spa.
Play: Royal Dornoch – Scottish Highlands (Northern Scotland)
The town of Dornoch celebrated 400 years of golf last year and its legendary course continually impresses the droves of golf enthusiasts visiting annually. In October, Royal Dornoch will host one of the most prestigious golf events of the year, the inaugural Donald Ross Invitational. The late course designer’s home track ranked No. 5 on Golf Digest’s list of “World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” and No. 1 in Scotland. Its distinctive plateau greens have a unique inverted saucer shape recognizable throughout the golf world.
Stay: Links House Dornoch
The elegant Links House at Royal Dornoch overlooks the golf club’s first tee. Set in the Scottish Highlands, the country house hotel and restaurant offers an opulent place to rest one’s head. Evoking old-world charm, one of the hotel’s most delightful features is the wood-paneled library, which contains board games, an eclectic library and single malt collection. The drawing room’s deep sofas are an ideal place to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea surrounded by antiques and art.
Play: Turnberry: The Ailsa Course – Southwest Scotland
Home to four Open Championships – most recently in 2009 – Ailsa recently unveiled a series of changes overseen by renowned architect Martin Ebert of golf course architecture firm Mackenzie & Ebert. Featuring an eight-hole coastal stretch, this dramatic course is set alongside the magnificent Turnberry Bay. The newly renovated ninth hole proves to be one of the course’s most awe-inspiring. The dazzling par 3 now plays across the bay, making an accurate tee shot imperative. Equally challenging, the par-3 11th plays across a series of rocky inlets.
The Turnberry’s coastal setting makes it an ideal place to relax and unwind. Opened in 1906 as the world’s first golf resort, it boasts picturesque views of the Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig. For the ultimate seascapes, stay in the lighthouse suite situated within the Turnberry lighthouse