Golfing in Ireland is the same as golfing anywhere else, except that it is much, much better! It is the same game and on a windy day it can be a little harder, but otherwise golf is golf.
When discussing Irish golf with people I find that there are many misconceptions and peculiarities. In this post I wanted to try and clear up a few.
It does not rain constantly or even daily in Ireland
I have gone several days straight in Ireland without seeing a drop of rain. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly does rain in Ireland. After all there is a reason that it is so green! Make sure that you do pack a good rain suit for your Irish golf trip. You most likely will need it. The Irish play through rain and if you’ve shelled out $250 for a precious tee time at Ballybunion, getting a little wet is better than missing this masterpiece. Rarely does it rain all day, in fact you might experience crisp sunshine on the first tee, driving rain on the second tee and by the fourth, you might be breaking out the sunscreen in a light and gentle breeze.
You will need sunscreen
Unless you are traveling in the winter, early spring or late fall, you should bring along some sun screen. Although high temperatures rarely make it out of the ’70’s the air is very clear and a sun burn in Ireland hurts just as much as it does in Florida!
Plan to walk
The Irish almost always walk and generally you are encouraged to do so as well. Ballybunion, Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and Lahinch flatly prohibit the use of carts. Others like Tralee and Old Head allow riding carts begrudgingly, and then only for medical reasons. Many other clubs have plenty of carts, but in my mind, if you can walk, you should. It is the best way to experience any course, particularly in Ireland. If available and you can afford it, hire a caddy! It turns a great round into the perfect round of golf!
If it is on the coast or ocean, it is not necessarily a links course
A links course is always on the ocean, but a course by the ocean is not necessarily a links course. Old Head juts two miles out into the Atlantic on a promontory. Skellig Bay is a beautiful seaside course just across the bay from the world renowned Waterville Golf Club. Neither one is a links course. Links land links the ocean to arable land. It is sandy which enables amazing drainage after rainfall. Essentially, it is land that is good for nothing else. To think that otherwise useless land can produce something as extraordinary as Enniscrone Golf Club is difficult to reconcile.
Golf in Ireland is not too expensive
If you think that it is ridiculous to pay $250 for a round of golf, just skip Old Head, Ballybunion or Tralee. There are some very good courses in breathtaking locations that are available for as little as $50 a round. There are some links courses just about as great as the those mentioned above that you can play for less than $100 per round. Even the budget busters mentioned above will offer you a second round for well under $100.
It is possible to get tee times at the top course
It can be hard, but hardly impossible. Working with a knowledgeable specialist (like Old Sod Travel!), you can get on just about any course in Ireland. Depending on the time of year, you can secure a coveted time on some of the famous courses yourself. As long as you are willing to do the work, you can afford to be flexible and are willing to pay the fare you can enjoy a round at Irelands finest tracks.
Golf in Ireland is a unique experience worthy of your time and money. A lot of planning and a little flexibility while keeping the above points in mind will help insure that both your valuable time and your money are well spent.