Have club, will travel? The Emerald Isle boasts a large array of top-notch golf courses; tee up to the sound of the sea or enjoy a round amidst the sloping valleys
Wherever you are in Ireland, you are never too far from a world class golf course capable of testing the best exponents of the global game but always within driving distance of the enthusiast.
The beauty of the game of golf is that it is a great leveller – on the right day, a wayward drive can reduce the world-ranked player to be 'on par' with your mere mortal attempt.
From the Old Course nestled in the dunes of Ballybunion overlooking where the magnificent Shannon enters the Atlantic to the lakes and drumlins of Cavan – home of one of only eight courses in the world with the coveted PGA national status – the variety of challenges will compel you to bring your 'A-game' with you.
On these courses, Major winners like Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy honed their game to be among the worlds' best – and little wonder given the quality, complexity and challenge of these courses.
And it's not just for the professionals. Former US President Bill Clinton made it his business to play on the fabled Old Course of Ballybunion and is immortalised in a statue at the fabled links – and there's no reason why you shouldn't follow in his footsteps.
While you're in Ballybunion, you should also try the Cashen course, which is a test of any golfer but lives a little in the shadow of its more famous sister course.
Not far away is Ballyseede Castle in Tralee –barely an hour's drive from Adare Manor and Killarney, Ryder Cup and Irish Open venues respectively.
Hidden Golf Gems
The city of Galway is an ideal gateway to the great golfing locations in Connaught. The Connemara Gaeltacht has one of Ireland's hidden golf gems near Leitir Mór. The Conamara Isles Golf Course boasts some of the most spectacular holes you will ever play.
As you play the 5th hole, you will see across the waves, under the Twelve Pins, Muicineach idir Dhá Sháile (An island with enough land to feed to a pig between two stretches of water is how that translates from the Irish language!). Enjoy a break in the 19th hole after your round in the picturesque thatched club house!
The spectacular scenery as you drive through Dúiche Sheoigheach/Joyce Country, via Cong and Leenane, where the Quiet Man and The Field were filmed, and into Mayo via the magnificent fjord at Killary Harbour and you're nearing a treasure trove of great golf courses.
For this section of the journey, you should consider basing yourself at Mount Falcon Estate , an impressive manor set in 100 acres of woods and parkland with its own driving range to get a few practice drives in. It boasts a welcoming aromatic turf fire when you arrive at what also serves as an ideal romantic getaway.
Challenging and Charming
From here you're within a hour of golf courses such as Carne in Belmullet, a links which is rightly regarded as one of the best designed by the legendary Eddie Hackett, and Rosses Point in Sligo, under the magnificent Ben Bulben.
The thing about taking a golf holiday in Ireland is the sheer number of golf courses, each of which is uniquely challenging and charming.
In the 'challenging' category must surely fall the Slieve Russell Hotel, Golf & Country Club which is one of only eight courses worldwide with the sought after PGA national designation. While you play on this magnificent course set in the drumlins, your non playing travelling companion can avail of the excellent leisure and spa facilities at the hotel.
Onwards then to one of Ireland's finest courses, and venue for Shane Lowry's glorious British Open win. Portrush, set on Antrim's northern coast, has been lauded by the world's top golfers as one of their favourite venues and it's a true challenge of their skills in the ancient game.
Obviously you need not stop here - though you may meet the likes of Graeme McDowell or Darren Clarke on your round - as you can travel onwards to Port Stewart and from there to Balmoral in Belfast or Royal County Down in Newcastle.
Well Kept Secret
Ideal for this section of the golfing quest is to base yourself in the Brown Trout Golf and Country Inn near Coleraine where you can practice on the on-site 9-hole course before you take on Portrush. Famous for its world-class service, the Brown Trout Golf and Country Inn is great also for non golf adventures such as a Game of Thrones tour or a visit to the Giant's Causeway.
Some of golf's most challenging courses and most spectacular locations are in Ireland - this is just a selection of some of our best courses and most well kept secrets.
All you have to do is polish and pack your clubs and before you know it you will be on the first tee of a golfing adventure of a lifetime.
ABOUT ORIGINAL IRISH HOTELS
Original Irish Hotels are a collection of unique, owner-run hotels, located in Ireland’s most outstanding destinations. Open the door to the magic of unmissable moments with Ireland’s leading collection of independent hotels.
Our 56 hotels are dotted around the entire island of Ireland in must-see locations, from the Wild Atlantic Way, to Ireland’s Ancient East, the Causeway Coast, Dublin and the treasured heartland of Ireland’s midlands and lakelands.
Irrespective of where our hotels are, Original Irish Hotels pride themselves in hosting a unique and truly memorable experience for our guests, and soon to be friends. The collection is made up of a range of traditional and boutique hotels, castles, manor and country houses, all run by locals, ensuring a unique experience every time.