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Whiplash if you are a fan of links golf then I think you have to play The Island. This is one of the best links in the country imho and is really worth a visit.
If you play before 8.30am on a weekday the green fee is reduced from €135 to €95. This is pretty good value considering the course…
Portmarnock Golf Club is pretty steep at €190/round midweek. It has all the history and while I haven’t played it, I have heard mixed reports – the ground is a little flat and maybe this takes away from it first time around…
County Louth (Baltray) is worth consideration. Louth is the county immediately to the north of Dublin so is not very far. No breathtaking views or massive dunes but still a true links and the Irish Open was held here back in 2004 and it hosts the East Irish Amateur Championship every year.
I would have to agree with MCG re Headford (New). It is not very far from Dublin and a great parkland layout. It is also very reasonable at €55 midweek and €70 weekends.
To answer DDBowdoin’s query re reasonably priced golf in the South West in September, some thoughts:
1) Ballybunion - great choice - unfortunately the 2 course offer at €265 is the best you will probably do. However you can play the courses within a 7 day period.
2) Lahinch - a second round on the Old course on the same day is only €45. This can only be booked on the day you play - assuming weather permits €210 for 2 rounds isn't the worst!
(Note that the 2nd course at Lahinch is not laid out over the same type of ground and is generally considered much weaker than the Old.)
3) Waterville for €115 - if you are not coming back to Ireland in the near future think about playing Waterville - it is a wonderful course. While it is normally €180 midweek, it is 'only' €115 if you play before 8am Mon-Thurs (so go easy on the Guinness and have an early night!
4) Dooks for €65 – As noted by stardate Dooks is a good option - it is no Ballybunion but still a very good links course. Normal rate is €85 but again early/twilight rate is €65.
5) Castlegregory for €33 - it is unlikely that you will ever have heard of Castlegregory - it's a 9 hole course on the Dingle Peninsula beyond Tralee. I played it this summer when in the area to climb Mount Brandon (our 2nd tallest 'mountain' - around 1000ft). The course has a great setting just beside Ireland's longest beach. The wind blew hard when we played and it was a test, but very enjoyable. It has all the features of great links golf. Again it is no Ballybunion but worth playing to get accustomed to links golf before playing the big ones.
(I don’t think Kilkee is much of a links course btw – it has nice views but Castlegregory is much more of a true links imho.)
6) Dromoland for €60 - the vast majority of Irish golf courses are NOT links. Set in the grounds of the old castle (now 5 star hotel) recent works to Dromoland have made it a great course - and my personal favourite in this area.
From hole 7 onwards it is a great test, combining great views of the castle/lake, tricky par 3s; tough par 5's with drives over the lake - how much do you bite off?; some great risk/reward short par 4's with water in play; 2 great par 4's at 8 and 16. Normal rate is around €110 but play before 9.30am for €60.
7) Adare Manner Hotel and Golf Resort for €85 (in summertime) - this is a Robert Trent Jones course which held the Irish Open for the past 2 years. Parkland course set in the grounds of an old manor (another 5 star hotel now) with a river passing though. It is one of the best parkland courses in Ireland. The normal rate is €150 but if you play after 4pm it is €85 - however sunset is probably too early in September to benefit.
My thoughts on golf over here in Ireland have gone on a little - I hope not to bore but to show that you can enjoy great golf here at a reasonable price...
Specific response to DDBowdoin’s query re courses in the South West is at the end.
(Note that today's exchange rate is ~$1.50 for €1, so adding 50% to the prices below.)
First off, as somebody who stumbled across Sand Trap when looking for places to play in NY on an upcoming trip, I suppose the one great thing about golfing in Ireland is that you can actually play
the great courses without having to know a member!
Imagine my (very naive) disappointment at finding out that I cannot play the likes of Shinnecock, Winged Foot, National Golf Links, etc, and by the sounds of things getting on Bethpage Black isn't all that easy either!!
Anyway, yes, an unfortunate consequence of good economic times in Ireland recently is that it is more expensive for the golfing tourists (and the exchange rate really doesn't help you at the moment). However I hope to show below how you can still play great golf at a reasonable rate over here!
1) Time of day to play
Beware of 'Early bird' (which isn't very early, eg before 8/9am) and 'twilight' (usually after 4pm which in summer gives plenty of time for 18 holes) rates - you can save significantly on the normal rate. (See details below on courses in the South West.)
2) Discover the North West of Ireland!!
The South West and Dublin are the main tourist tracks. Prices are high here because demand is high. Note that the majority of green fees in the South West are from US tourists, hence the only way they will come down is if enough of you a) complain or b) stop coming!
Few people seem to realise the quality of golf courses in Mayo/Sligo and Donegal. While these are a little off the main tourist track, the quality of links courses is extremely high, better in some cases to the well known tracks of the south, and prices much more reasonable. Note that these courses are not inferior to the better know
I live in the South West of Ireland, but I travel up to the North West every year for a few days to get my fix of links golf - I couldn't justify paying €295 to play Old Head, when I can get 6 games on excellent links in the north west for a similar price.
Take this itinerary as an example assuming mid-week play:
- Carne, Co Mayo, €60/day - well worth 2 rounds. This is one of the best links in Ireland albeit it is in the middle/edge of nowhere. A local B+B also has a deal where €82 gets you a good nights sleep, great breakfast and a full day's golf - we've stayed there for the past few years - best deal in Ireland!!
- Enniscrone, Co Mayo, €60/round. Great links course.
- County Sligo (Rosses Point), €75/round. One of the classic old style links.
- Rosapenna, Co Donegal, €50/round - Old Tom Morris Course; €75 for the new Sandy Hills course (rates above incl €10 discount for web booking). Great mix on old and new links courses here.
So you have
of really great links golf for
- I truly doubt f you can find better than that.
Also note that rounds are similarly priced at Donegal GC, Portsalon and Ballyliffen (2 great courses at the latter with possible Irish Open coming in the next few years).
3) Travel in March/April?
Green fee rates for some of the big courses are increased in April/May due to arrival of the "summer" season (note BIG inverted commas here!). Our best weather over the last few years has actually (/sadly!) come in April, hence it is a great time to play the expensive courses. Furthermore links courses by their nature are dry pretty much all year round so even if the weather is bad the ground will good.