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Ireland: Golf vacation of a lifetime

5 Jun 2007  Seeking out the best golfing experiences in the world
4.0 of 5 stars based on 5 votes

I recently had the good fortune of traveling to southwestern Ireland (Counties Clare and Kerry) for a seven day golf trip of a lifetime. These are some of the courses and accomodations we visited.

  • 1. Dromoland Castle
    Dromoland Castle Hotel, Newmarket-on-Fergus

    Stereotypical Irish Castle which serves as a luxury Hotel with an 18 hole golf course. This castle is located mere minutes away from Shannon Airport and is thus a perfect beginning or end to an Irish trip. It is also conveniently located to serve as a base for trips to Lahinch and Doonbeg.

    When staying in an authentic castle, certain allowances must be made. First, there is no air conditioning. Granted, cool air is not usually an issue, but it is possible for the temperature to reach the mid 80s on rare occasions. Water pressure can also be a problem. Dromoland is pricey, but there is nothing like staying in a real castle to get the local flavor.

  • 2. Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa
    Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa, Aghadoe, Killarney

    This modern luxury hotel is a stark contrast to Dromoland Castle. It is located just outside Killarney and has all the luxuries of a five star hotel. Air conditioning, internet access, modern plumbing and views to absolutely die for. A perfect jumping off point for the Ring of Kerry and access to County Kerry golfing meccas.

  • 3. Lahinch Golf Club
    Lahinch Golf Club, Lahinch

    Classic Irish Course located on the coast of County Clare. Many blind shots, pot bunkers and strange lies make this a unique experience for American golfers. Located near Cliffs of Mohr which shouldn't be missed.

  • 4. Doonbeg Golf Club
    Doonbeg Golf Club, Doonbeg

    Unlike the other older classic links courses on this list, this is a new creation by Australian Greg Norman as part of a lodge and housing development of the same name. The lodge and clubhouse are immaculate. The course is certainly first rate, though playing a classic Irish course is not the same as playing a new course constructed to resemble a classic Irish course.

  • 5. Ballybunion Golf Club
    Ballybunion Golf Club, Ballybunion

    This seaside County Kerry links course is in a class by itself. Actually there are two courses served by the clubhouse, though the Old course is clearly the star of the two. Severe elevation changes and swirling winds make club selection a challenge. Though I'm sure that there are many good caddies, our experience in this regard was not a good one.

  • 6. Tralee Golf Club
    Tralee Golf Club, Tralee

    Beautiful links course in County Kerry designed and developed by Arnold Palmer. Two nines are vastly different with the front nine basically flat and unremarkable while the back is much hillier and more challenging, with virtually every hole featuring elevated tees and greens. Several holes feature tee shots from which you can identify distant greens and tee boxes but no fairways (which wind their ways through the valleys), only wispy grass blowing in the wind.

  • 7. Waterville Golf Links
    Waterville Golf Links, Waterville

    This oceanside tract, located at the tip of the Ring of Kerry is a favorite among American golfers prepping for the Open Championship, among them Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara, who in addition to golfing, enjoy the local salmon and trout fishing. Payne Stewart was named an honorary member and his statue graces the area beside #9 green.

    While in town, visit Waterville House, a bed and breakfast frequented by visiting touring pros and The Huntsman Restaurant, also a local favorite.

  • 8. Killeen House
    Killeen House, Aghadoe, Killarney

    This restaurant is located just outside Killarney and very near Aghadoe Heights. Features a bar in which logoed golf balls are displayed (by the thousands). Bring a logoed golf ball and receive a free drink.