Kicking off an October Ireland golf trip at Doonbeg Golf Club in the southwest
COUNTY CLARE, IRELAND – After my first day back in Ireland since the spring of 2007, I’m already convinced that early October is a much better time to take a golf trip than the first half of March.
For starters, I actually see golfers out and about here at Doonbeg, taking advantage of an un-Irish-like calm, sunny day where I was in short sleeves a full 18 holes. In March, the tee sheets are open and the green fees are cheap, but the pubs are dead and you can get turned away for dinner if you come after 7:30 at some restaurants in the sleepy villages.
I’ve also learned of some great specials going on in Ireland this month, including a two-for-one deal at Ballybunion, where a 180 euro green fee at the Old Course also gets you a round on the next door Cashen Course (which is not some dinky second fiddle off the dunesland like many clubs have in the GB & I - it’s a proper, Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed championship links).
There’s also a County Cork trio package that includes Old Head Golf Links for under 300 euro. That’s three rounds of golf for less than Old Head used to cost alone. While these are end-of-year specials, it’s safe to say there will still be some deals to be announced for the 2010 golf season, so if you haven’t looked into an Ireland golf vacation in a few years, you might want to check back in with some packagers for another inquiry.
For the first round of the trip, centered around the southwest links in County Kerry and County Clare (whereas I was mostly in the north and northwest last time around), we started out at Doonbeg, a welcomed addition to the area that’s full of 19th century links like Lahinch, Waterville and Ballybunion. Lahinch is actually just about a half hour’s drive along the coast from Doonbeg, and the two, coupled with a stay here at the striking brand new lodge at Doonbeg make a mighty fine one-two punch, pretty close to the famous Royal County Down-Royal Portrush duo to the north with a stay at the historic Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle.
As for Doonbeg, there are some wildly exciting links holes, perhaps none better than their little terror, the short par-3 14th hole that is just a chip shot of about 115 yards out towards the sea. But there are a good four or five holes that make wonderful use of the rugged dunes and could stake claim as the feature hole. I’ll have plenty more to say on Doonbeg in the coming weeks, or click here for a recent review from WorldGolf.com contributer Clive Agran.
Suffice to say the appetite for some Irish links golf has officially been whet. I’m here all week, so stay tuned for more dispatches…
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