Focus On: Southwest Ireland

FO: Southwest IrelandFor most folks who journey across “the pond” to play golf, chances are pretty good they’ll want to play in Scotland at courses like St. Andrews, Turnberry and Royal Dornoch. While those courses and the enchanting towns they inhabit are steeped in history, those wanting a more diverse and dramatic golfing experience should consider Ireland, in particular its southwestern quadrant. While most of the courses there don’t date back to the 19th century, their styles do range greatly, providing golfers with one of the most unique “trails” the sport has to offer. Not to mention, journeying from one town to another transports the golfer around the Ring of Kerry, the ultimate collection of charming towns and dramatic vistas.

An Insider’s Guide To Ireland
When vacationing on the Emerald Isle, refer to pull carts as “trolleys.” Also, bring your handicap card, as starters often like to know your “stroke index.” If you’re playing with a buddy, the two of you will be known as a “two-ball,” not a twosome or a pair. Most courses don’t provide “buggies” (carts), so get in some walking prior to your trip, especially for the dune-heavy links courses. Also, as you’ll either hire a caddie or use a trolley, it’s okay to load your bag with plenty of rain gear. Chances are good you’ll need it. Locals are the first to say that the sun shines the most from July to September. The Celtic Tiger is roaring, and Ireland ain’t cheap. As of publication, one U.S. dollar equaled .77 of a Euro. Fly Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline. They have direct flights from a number of U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and New York.    
 
The Ring Of Kerry
Playing golf in Ireland, in particular the southwest corner (Counties Cork and Kerry) affords not just some of the world’s greatest golf, but also some of the world’s most charming towns. The drive from Waterville Golf Club to Old Head (aka, the Ring of Kerry) in particular, is full of the picturesque small towns whose photos grace the pages of guidebooks and Travel Channel programs. Be forewarned, navigating the Ring takes time, patience and, we might suggest, a small car. The roads are narrow and winding, and the topography changes dramatically from sea level to cloud-enshrouded mountaintops along the stretch. But the payoff is worth it. Towns like Smeen, Kenmare and Bantry are just a few examples of Ireland’s so-called “Tidy Towns”—clean, vibrant, charming villages with brightly colored pubs and restaurants. www.tidytowns.ie

Further Reading
• For more information and to receive a free vacation planning kit, visit www.discoverireland.com or call (800) 223-6470.
• For an online database overflowing with up-to-date information on Irish golf, visit www.golfadventureguides.com .
• Where Golf is Great. James Finegan’s big, thick, photo-rich love letter to Irish and Scottish courses.




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