Founder’s Choice: Favorite Golf Adventure in Southwest Ireland
Ravi Coutinho founded Worldwide Golf Adventures in 2014, based on his love of both golf and international travel. Here he gives us insight into one of his favorite golf adventures: Southwest Ireland.
Southwest Ireland is one of my favorite golf trips to take, and I’m not alone in that favoritism. Both Tom Watson and Greg Norman have called the southwest of Ireland some of the best golfing terrain in the world, and I couldn’t agree more. Scotland may have the original historic claim on the sport, but its roots sank into Ireland as well, and the Southwest links courses are a thrill for anyone, regardless of handicap.
I first went several years ago, and quickly fell in love with the beautiful scenery, wonderful people, and, of course, the world-class golf opportunities. This part of the world offers some of the best golf courses anywhere, and there are plenty of activities to do off the course, especially from cultural and historical excursions to whiskey tastings to the famous warmth of Irish pubs.
Start in Lahinch
Planning this trip for myself, I like to start off with a stay in Lahinch, where it’s easy to play at Lahinch Golf Club. Lahinch has been called “the St. Andrews of Ireland,” although comparing Lahinch to any other course is a fool’s errand. The Old Course at Lahinch offers some of the most interesting links layouts you’ll ever play based on the natural layout of the land.
Also nearby is Doonbeg, a newly redesigned course that offers views of the Atlantic Ocean from 16 out of the 18 holes. While a history of the area shows interest in a golf course at Doonbeg as early as 1892, construction on the current course began 1999 and opened officially in 2002. A 2014 rebuild thanks to new ownership has added a fresh feeling to the 1.5 mile crescent on the Irish shore, and the course has become one of the “must-play” links courses on the international circuit.
While staying in Lahinch, it’s a good idea to sneak in an afternoon to see the famous Cliffs of Moher, which you may recognize if you’ve ever seen the classic film “The Princess Bride”. The stunning landscape is best viewed at sunset, and in the summer, the attraction can get extremely crowded. Hiking the shoreline is well worth it, however, and you should allow yourself at least two hours to truly enjoy.
On to Killarney
From Lahinch, I like to move to Killarney in County County Kerry. The town itself is a classic Irish village where history and natural beauty combine with world-class hospitality to offer you an extremely comfortable and interesting stay.
Nearby Ballybunnion Golf Club offers two satisfying links courses to play, both of which are ranked among the best golf courses in the world. The Old Course was originally opened in 1893, and the Cashen Course followed more than a century later in 1984. Both are exemplary links courses and will challenge you while thrilling you with views of the Atlantic coastline.
Waterville Golf Links is another must-play course that is accessible from Killarney. Like so much of Ireland, Waterville traces its history back more than a thousand years, and the lore associated with this history gives Waterville a certain mystical aura that you won’t find anywhere else. The original course opened in 1889, and was expanded in 1973 to the 7,200 yard course players enjoy today.
The last golf stop from Killarney is Tralee Golf Club, the first European course designed by Arnold Palmer. Several courses have come and gone in the Tralee area since 1896, and the current 18 holes designed by Arnold Palmer opened in 1984. The course is famous for its beach views, including that from the 1st and 2nd holes which played the backdrop for the 1970 movie “Ryan’s Daughter”, which won an Academy Award for best cinematography.
No trip to Killarney would be complete without booking some time to see the countryside, and the Ring of Kerry is an excellent way to do so. The 111-mile (179-kilometer) road can be taken via car, bicycle, or on foot and provides access to beaches, villages, and historical sites that will give you an excellent idea of Ireland at large.
Another exciting attraction near Killarney are the Skellig Islands, whose rocky, stormy shores have become famous in recent years as home to Luke Skywalker in “The Last Jedi”. The islands are accessible by boat, depending on the weather, but are worth the trip.
Finish in Kinsale
From County Kerry, I recommend a quick trip out to Kinsale in County Cork. The resort town offers plenty of fascinating history and charm, including the famous Blarney Castle, which you most likely know as the home of the Blarney Stone. It may be a bit of a tourist trap, but kissing the Blarney Stone is a tradition that you should engage in at least once in your life, just to say you’ve done it. The surrounding gardens and castle are also intriguing and worth seeing.
As for golf, we’ve saved my favorite for last: a round at Old Head Golf Links. Built on a promontory that stretches two miles out into the Atlantic, Old Head offers some of the most beautiful views on a links course that you’ll ever see. While the layout provides a challenge unto itself, the ever-changing breeze off the sea is your greatest opponent on this 7,100 yard beauty. Old Head is the sort of course golfers dream of, and even in the worst weather, you’ll be enchanted.
If you’re ready to take the trip of a lifetime to a golf adventure in Southwestern Ireland, get in touch today for a free quote.