Golf is a leisurely game that people can play at their own pace that not only relaxes the body but also the mind. A beautiful golf course can do wonders for the player's enthusiasm and Ireland's golf courses do not disappoint in this regard. The list is almost endless: from classics like Ballybunion, Portmarnock, Royal County Down, Waterville and Royal Portrush to new courses such as Mount Juliet, The K Club and The Old Head of Kinsale.
The special courses in the Northern region include the highly rated Ballyliffin described by Nick Faldo as 'the most natural course ever'. The Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush, Portstewart and Royal County Down are Northern Ireland's premier links courses. Other courses not to be missed in this region are Castlerock and Royal Belfast.
In the Southern region, in County Kerry, you can play the world renowned Ballybunion Old and Cashen courses. Within a short distance of Ballybunion is the Arnold Palmer designed links course at Tralee. On the tip of the scenic Ring of Kerry is the superb Waterville Golf Links. Two other links well worth playing are Dooks and Ceann Sibeal in Dingle. A visit to Kerry would not be complete without including Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, home to two Irish Opens and the 1996 Curtis Cup. County Clare is home to the world renowned Lahinch Championship Course which attracts thousands of golfers every year from all over the world.
In the Eastern region, Dublin, the Capital of Ireland is not only a sophisticated and friendly City but is also endowed with world rated golf courses. The links courses include world famous Portmarnock, home to many Irish Opens and also the 1991 Walker Cup. Royal Dublin is built on a man-made island close to the lesser known but wonderful Island Golf Club. County Louth Golf Club, Baltray, one of Ireland's golfing gems, offers a wonderful links experience. This course is close to Dublin or can be enjoyed en-route to Northern Ireland.
The special courses in the Western region are the highly rated Donegal Golf Club Murvagh described by Golf World as 'sensational links' while the County Galway is home to the challenging links of Connemara Golf Club, where they say the par 72 is rarely achieved. Galway also includes the course, Galway Bay Golf & Country Club, designed by Ryder Cup player and Tour Professional, Christy O'Connor Jnr. While a modern parkland this course has a destinctive links feel about it. In County Mayo you can play Carne Golf Links in Belmullet which is an exciting links in a very natural setting of considerable beauty. Enniscrone Golf Club in County Sligo is often referred to as one of Ireland's best kept secrets, a true Irish links gem. The County Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point, is one of Ireland's best celebrated links courses. With brisk winds off the Atlantic Coast, nothing is more challenging than a round at Rosses Point.
It would be advisable to pre-book the more famous Ireland golf courses especially during the summer months. According to GolfEurope reviews, golfers rave about many of the lesser known clubs so one should take the time to visit a selection of these. Indeed the more famous golf clubs sometimes charge exorbitant green fees and demand pre-booking or impose other explicit or implicit restrictions. Their golf snobbery charge a lot and makes people feel privileged to play. Exclusive and expensive are not the same as excellence. This is rare and not indicative of the Irish. The point being that in Ireland, you don't have to tolerate this behaviour given the wide choice.
It is said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten. Whether it's the ghostly presence of castle ruins and ancient Celtic graves or the impossibly lush countryside and magical coastline or the inherent gregarious nature of the people, Ireland remains a beauty to behold and will add everlasting memories to your golfing history.