IRELAND – Their Cup Runneth Over!

ryder-cup-logoThe eyes of the golfing world are firmly fixed on Ireland with the 36th Ryder Cup due to be held at the K Club from September 22 – 24, 2006.  This great tournament is adding to the country’s established reputation as home to some of the world’s greatest courses.

Courses such as Portmarnock, Royal Dublin, Ballybunion, Lahinch, Rosses Point, Mount Juliet, Royal County Down, and of course the K Club are world renowned and offer a test to even the most accomplished players.

But these are just a few of the country’s more famous courses.  And you don’t have to confine yourself to these if you want to enjoy great golf in Ireland.  Ireland has no fewer than 440 golf courses to choose from, each offering its own combination of beautiful scenery and classic Irish hospitality.

In fact, the greatest difficulty facing many golfers visiting Ireland for the first time is choosing which courses to play!  But if Ireland is famous for anything it’s making life easy for its guests and there are a number of special passes now available which enable you to play a number of courses in various regions at a very low cost.

Ireland’s South East Region lies just 100 kilometres south of Dublin and boasts some of the country’s finest courses as well as exceptional value, great scenery and a range of interesting places to visit and outdoor activities to fill in the non-golfing hours.

The Region offers a number of Golf Value Passes ranging from just $100 to $135.  These passes entitle the holder to play rounds at three different courses in the region.  For those looking for something a little bit special they can opt for the $250 Pass which takes in championship courses Mount Juliet, Faithlegg, and Waterford Castle.

Counties Cork and Kerry in the South West offer some of the most spectacular coastlines anywhere in the World as well as rugged landscapes that are truly breathtaking.  They also offer some of the best golf courses to be found anywhere.  Waterville in County Kerry is a preferred practice ground for Tiger Woods prior to the British Open while Tom Watson used Ballybunion in the same county as the launch pad for his five wins in that same tournament.

Again there are a range of golf passes on offer to suit both the budget and the proficiency level of every golfer.  The passes range in price from $125 to $215 and entitle the holder to play rounds on three different courses in the region.  Courses covered include Fota Island, former venue of the Irish Open; the world famous Mahony’s Point course at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club; the truly inspiring Kenmare Golf Club with its views over Kenmare Bay; and the Ring of Kerry Golf Club.

Moving north there are some tremendous packages available in Northern Ireland.  Northern Ireland is home to a number of the world’s top ranked links courses with Royal County Down and Royal Portrush among the most famous.  Golfers wishing to sample some of the golfing gems of this area can avail of the Northern Ireland golf pass, which offers either three rounds of golf for $135 or five rounds for $210.  Great value in anyone’s book!

Among the courses covered by the packages are Banbridge, Kirkistown Castle, Edenmore and Gracehill.

Turning west to Donegal you can avail of three rounds of golf in your choice of five different courses for just $120.  The courses include Rosapena Golf Links, St Patrick’s Golf Links and Letterkenny Golf Club.

Moving south again to the Shannon Region there are no fewer than 25 different courses which all offer excellent value to visitors as well as guaranteeing them a truly great Irish welcome and some of the most beautiful and spectacular scenery to be found anywhere in Ireland.

And for those who don’t want to venture too far from Dublin there is a great value package featuring three top quality courses in County Wicklow, just south of the capital city.  For just $230 you can play a round in each of Druids Heath, Tulfarris and Woodenbridge Golf Courses.  Each is of championship standard and offers their own set of challenges as well as unique settings.

For many golfers the most important part of the round is the post mortem on the 19th, and you can be sure to find a warm welcome from fellow golfers and staff in Irish clubhouses.  Sitting back over a drink or two in an Irish clubhouse bar is the ideal place to chill out after a strenuous round of golf; you can enjoy the atmosphere with the locals and compare scorecards – if you’ve had a good day.

Indeed, it’s usually a good idea to check out the clubhouse before venturing out on the course.  You’re almost sure to meet a few locals and members who will be only too happy to share the benefit of their local knowledge with you in terms of pointers and tips for the round ahead.

You’ll also find that they make excellent tour guides and can offer great advice on interesting places to visit and other activities during your stay in their area.

And it’s very easy to avail of one of these excellent value packages.

For more information on golfing in Ireland contact your local Tourism Ireland office in Toronto at 1 800 223 6470 or visit www.discoverireland.com or www.ireland.ie/golf

Flagstick Digest delivers the most current and informative golf content directly to your inbox. Whether looking for the latest from the Tours, In-depth Interviews, Product Analysis or just about anything golf...WE DELIVER!