Ireland 2024 Perry Golf Tour

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1,000 km drive, ten courses, nine days, and 84 miles walked.

It rains 300 days each year in Ireland.  We encountered misting from 5 to 16 at Portstewart and rain requiring umbrellas 1 through 6 at Royal Portrush. Add a tour of Belfast, Bushmills Brewery, Dublin, the Giant Steps, Guinness Brewery, St. Patrick’s grave, and the Temple Bar district leads to one conclusion. Golf in Ireland is very special.

Our group rated the golf courses as follows:

1 –           Royal Portrush – very special, with the new 7th and 8th added for the 48th open really enhanced the course. It is a very magical place bordered on the Irish Sea near Bushmills and the Giant’s Causeway.  Photos Here:  Download

2 –           Royal County Down:  a very good test on links golf at its best.  Greens were like ice rinks – one must land a ball 25 years in front of the green and pray it would stay on the green.  The 7th hole par 3 is unfair, and the ball rolls over the green down a 40-foot hill where deft chipping or putting is required to get the ball back onto the green.  No chance to hold the green downwind.  The views from the 9th hole are very special.  Photos here: Download

3 –           European Club – toughest of the bunch.  The fairway contouring is very subtle and requires precision off the tee.  The bunkers, as expected, are deep with very soft sand.  A deft touch is required.  We met with Pat Ruddy, golf course architect and owner, for two hours and had a pint.  He gave us a tour of his private library of over 7,500 golf books, which was very special.  The only course where golfers are provided carts vs. caddies as part of the green fee.   Download

4 –           County Louth – loved how it was routed with the front and back nine intersecting. A vastly underrated and very fun golf course.  Photos here Download

5 –           Portstewart – the best front nine of the lot. The dunes are simply spectacular.  For those looking for fun, the sharp dogleg 8th measuring over 450 provides the long hitter the opportunity to drive the green by directing one’s shot high over the dunes.  They are currently renovating 13, 14, and 15, which will add to the character of those holes. Download

6 –          Rosapenna Sandy Hills Links – a large group of Haversham Golfers split 50/50 over this course and St. Patrick’s. It is very hilly, with several blind shots.  The second shot into the 6th with the ocean waves in the background is very special.  The clubhouse features a statute of the original architect, Old Tom Morris.  Download

7 –           The Island Club – fun golf course where selection of the right tees is essential.  The caddies suggested we play too far up, and we could almost drive 5, 6, 7, and 9.  Notwithstanding that, being close to Dublin Airport, it is a great first course for the arriving American visitor to play. Download

8 –           St. Patricks – We find it hard to believe that St. Patricks, formerly a 36-hole site that the Casey’s bought for 1 million Euros, is rated 47th best in the world.  While the work of Tom Doak is always special,  it felt like we have seen some of those holes before at Ballyneal,  Barnbougle Dunes, Rawls Course, etc.  The 6th hole, a par 5 with a split fairway requiring a forced carry, was unique.  Holes 9, 10, and 11 are very long Par 4s, which was monotonous. Download

9 –          Portmarnock—We thought the course was overpriced at 325 Euro for the experience. While the history of the course, with many championships held, makes this exclusive course on one’s bucket list, the terrain is the flattest of the courses played, and the routing of the course with the predominant direction of a strong wind from the south makes for a challenging day.

10-         Narin and Portnoo – Slope rating 113.  Spectacular views of the bay compensate for the flat opening holes. While designed by the famed US architect Gil Hanse for an American businessman who bought the course for $200,000, it is very remote. In retrospect, we would recommend playing Ballyliffin, Cruit (9 holes), or Port Salon. Download

Two other courses we visited but did not play were Ardglass Download which has the oldest clubhouse in the world dating back to the 1400’s and Jameson Golf LinksDownload which is affiliated with the Portmarnock Resort Hotel.

Golf in Ireland is a different game than playing in the US.  There are no winter rules – playing the ball down is standard, save for mats used in the winter at some courses to protect the fairways.   The caddies are delightful and have many humorous stories.  Playing wayward shots out of the dunes, putting from 40 yards off the green or hitting bump and run shots, and hitting five irons from 140 yards into 30-mile winds are shots rarely encountered in the US.

It is a journey that every avid and recreational golfer should put on their bucket list.

Not only is the golf world class, but there are many delight tourist attractions:  Bushmills Distillery Download, Giant’s Causeway Download and the famed Guinness Brewery Download.

The question remains: should one play Ireland or Scotland first?  The answer may lay in your confidence on driving – not on the golf course but on the roads.  In both countries, you drive on the opposite side of the road from the US, which requires some adjustment.  It took 2 1/2 hours to drive from Royal Portrush to Rosapenna – 51 miles.  The roads through the countryside of Ireland are narrow, with stone walls or hedges bordering the edges.  We, fortunately, via Perry Golf tour had an escorted driver who shuttled our foursome hither and yon.

Regardless of which country you choose, you should select Perry Golf to arrange your tour.   While it may be a few thousand dollars more expensive than a self-arranged tour,  the convenience far offsets the incremental cost.


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