Golf News for Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Daily Golf Blogs

Tucker: U.S. golfers can still find value in northwest Ireland

Today I was watching one of those cable TV business channels and all these whacked out, hyperactive balding guys were reporting that the U.S. Dollar had dropped to new lows against the Euro. Again. We're talking about $1.37 to one measley Euro.

Kind of sad, right? Isn't America supposed to be the biggest, baddest country in the history of the universe? Doesn't seem like it. The French are using a fresh US note to carry their baguettes in. Europeans are flocking to America to buy golf equipment like America shuttles its seniors to Canada for cheap meds.

It's a little disheartening. Now when us Americans go to Europe, we have to start doing everything at two-thirds: Two meals a day instead of three, hotels on the outskirts of town instead of the city center, and you have to try and get boozed off four beers instead of six (which is easier since you probably skipped dinner).

And greens fees at European golf courses don't cut you much slack either, whether it's in Spain, Portugal or Ireland. The K Club is asking 450 Euros for a round these days. Old Head isn't much cheaper. Ballybunion and Lahinch are also way up there.

You can't really find golfing value in a Euro-using country unless you're going off-season, but there is one, small exception: Northwest Ireland, which still has solid golfing value. Links courses can be played high season for about 50-80 Euro. Many are very good, including Ballyliffin, Enniscrone, Rosapenna and Co. Sligo. Connemara is pretty good too.

The courses aren't as old here in the northwest compared to Northern Ireland and the southwest. Most of the region's Old Courses are built usually by Eddie Hackett in the 60s and 70s. The roads are also a bit iffy in spots. But if you want to experience world class links golf on a budget, there's no cheaper place in Europe - and you'll certainly get a near-equal experience in some ways, and exceeding in others. You don't feel as much like a tourist at these courses and small villages like you might at Ballybunion, some golfers told me when I was over there.

But remember, Americans, if you meet a European guy and he starts ripping on you for your flaccid currency, just ask him how much a litre of petrol costs in his country.

You can play the northwest's Old Course at Ballyliffin 7-8 times for the price of one K Club fee.

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