Most golfers planning a golf vacation to Ireland work with an Ireland trip planner or a golf specialist. When you consider the logistics involved, it’s easy to understand why. In this post I will try to break down some of the many things that you will need to consider when planning your trip and touch on some of the reasons that you should consider working with someone that knows Ireland and better still the peculiarities of an Irish golf trip.
, when you start to plan a golf trip you start by selecting the courses you want to play and then fill in the rest. In Ireland there are fantastic golf courses everywhere so I would encourage you to start your planning with everything else. Some questions to consider:
- You can have a great golf vacation in Ireland for as little as $1000 per golfer or you could plan a “money is no object” trip and spend $4 – 5000. What is your budget?
- Is your goal to collect trophies and play nothing but the best courses in the Emerald Isle or do you want to travel to the far corners of Ireland to experience those hidden gems that won’t generate much in the way of bragging rights when you return to the states? Some hidden gems are close to the trophy courses and offer similar scenery and quality golf for a much lower tariff.
- Do you want to play a different course every day or are you happy playing the same great course a few times in a row?
- What is your idea of a good hotel?
- Do you want to stay in towns or cities or does a small country house near a course work better for you and your group?
- Is the quality of your meals a priority?
- How do you want to get around? It’s almost always less expensive to drive yourself but driving in Ireland can be a bit of an adventure. Hiring a driver also gives you the advantage of having a guide to show you local points of interest.
- Is the group only going to golf or do you want to see some of the sights while visiting Ireland?
Once you have a better handle on the above priorities and preferences you can start to put together your itinerary either by doing the research yourself or by working with a tour operator.
Why use a tour operator? If you choose the right one, they’ve already done the research and if they are good listeners they can help you to put together an itinerary that meets your priorities in very little time. Tour operators are generally paid by the hotels and golf courses that they book for you, which means that there is little or no incremental cost to work with one. The result is that the cost that you pay when using a tour operator should be the same as if you did it yourself.
Of course having a plan is not the same as having reservations. Top courses and hotels have limited inventory. Inevitably, the course that you had planned to play on day 3 of your trip will have a members tournament scheduled for that particular day. Or if you get the tee times, the perfect hotel that has been thoroughly researched will be fully booked on the nights that you had planned to stay there. The bottom line is that once you have a plan worked out, prepare to be flexible. Especially if you are booking late in the season cycle. Many top courses and hotels will be booked through August or even September by the end of February.
Even if you work with a knowledgeable and service oriented planner (like me!) it takes some time to plan the perfect golf trip to Ireland. Don’t let that prevent you from trying! The experience is one that you will be talking about for a lifetime, or at least until plan your next golf trip to Ireland!