Ireland’s ‘Top Five Golf / Tourism Experiences’
When planning a golf trip to Ireland, extra-curricular activities off the course are just as important as teeing it up on the world’s finest links courses. Compliment an unforgettable golf getaway to the Emerald Isle by indulging in a few of our favourite “non-golf” highlights as well:
Golf / Whiskey
Founded in 1894, Portmarnock Golf Club consistently ranks among the top links courses in the world. Host venue of the 2019 Amateur Championship, Portmarnock has embodied the essence of Ireland golf for 125 years. Its signature hole, the deceiving 15th, is known for its stunning sea views and difficulty. With a trio of bunkers surrounding the green, the 204-yard par-3 is as daunting as it is beautiful.
The “Velvet Strand” of Ireland’s scenic eastern shoreline just north of Dublin was also once the home of the Jameson Irish Whiskey family. Now, John Jameson’s passion resides at the Bow St. Distillery in downtown Dublin, but the focus on producing the world’s best Irish whiskey remains. Before or after a round, the World’s Leading Distillery Tour at this historical landmark and tribute to the craft of Irish whiskey making is a must visit.
Golf / Fishing
Consistently ranked one of the best courses in Ireland, Waterville Golf Links boasts some of Ireland’s most breathtaking landscapes alongside rugged seaside cliffs, pastoral emerald-green farmland and magnificent vistas. Resting on a 220-acre peninsula overlooking the Atlantic, one may feel like they’re playing in golf heaven of your own.
The “Waterville” name can also be taken literally for avid golfers. At the base of the Coomcalle Mountains, travellers will discover world-class fly fishing with brown trout, sea trout and salmon teeming in the abundant lakes and rivers of Southwest Ireland.
Golf / Gridiron
One of the “newer” links golf experiences to grace the Irish shores is the superb European Club. The Pat Ruddy design has been hailed by the likes of Rory McIlroy claiming, “This is probably the best links course I have ever played, and that includes Royal St. George’s, Royal Portrush and Royal County Down.” Players must think their way around the challenging Mizen Head layout where no shot should be taken for granted.
What’s also relatively new in Ireland is the prospect of seeing American college football. The University of Notre Dame first hosted Navy in Dublin in 2012. Both teams will return for a highly anticipated rematch in August of 2020. The game will take place at Aviva Stadium, home to the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Republic of Ireland’s national football team. The teams will compete for the Keough-Naughton Trophy named for Donald Keough (former head of Coca-Cola and the first inductee into the Irish America Hall of Fame) and Martin Naughton, whose ardent support fostered Irish studies programs in the U.S.
Golf / Ring of Kerry
Carr Golf’s late founder, Joe Carr, believed Old Head Golf Links to be just as jaw-dropping as Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. “It is a golfer’s paradise with the potential of being the eighth wonder of the world,” said Carr. Opened in 1997, Joe Carr helped a robust design team create a stimulating experience amongst the whirling winds off the sea and rolling topography, resulting in LINKS magazine naming Old Head, “The most spectacular course on the planet.”
After traversing Old Head’s wild and wonderful landscape, consider a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula and Ring of Kerry with some of the most stunning coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages in the world. Take a ferry to the mystic, twin-pinnacled island of Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featured in the Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens.” Back on the mainland, see the colourful town of Kenmare, scenic Derryane Beach and rugged Ballinskelligs Castle among the many memorable locations in this mesmerizing area.
Golf / Soccer
Just a short drive from the charming town of Donegal, the Donegal Golf Club, also called Murvagh, is outstanding. No less an expert than Irish golfing great Darren Clarke calls it “one of my favourite courses in the world.” With the Bluestack Mountains on the horizon, the frontside runs counterclockwise around the perimeter, the inward half proceeds in the opposite fashion as every bit of land is used perfectly. This is 18 holes of the highest order.
For much of the League of Ireland Premier Division’s 34-year history, the Sligo Rovers Football Club has been fighting for respect among larger clubs. In 2012, they gained nationwide recognition winning its first league title. Since its foundation, the club has had a small but loyal following and offers an intimate and authentic football experience. After a morning round at Murvagh, check out “The Reds” if they’re playing. They will appreciate the support!