If you’re a fairway fanatic then Ireland is the equivalent of golfing heaven.
Despite being no bigger than the state of Indiana, The Emerald Isle can boast hundreds of top class golf courses, many of them ‘bucket list’ locations that have staged the Ryder Cup, European Tour events, and the only Open Championship ever staged outside the UK mainland.
So, if you’re planning a visit to these shores, why not let Platinum NI be your guide? Forget cramped buses, being herded in and out of hotels, and queues at the first tee. Go bespoke, let us fine tune the travel details so you can concentrate on splitting the fairway with your next drive.
Platinum NI can ensure you make the most of links land and parkland that has nurtured Major winners Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, and former Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley.
With our local knowledge and contacts, we can advise on the best courses (including some real hidden gems), even book local caddies who will further the experience with their expertise and gift of the gab.
Beyond the course, we can also steer you in the right direction regarding places to see, eat, or be entertained. You’ll also travel in style and comfort (six-seater Mercedes Benz), arriving on the first tee fresh and ready to let it rip like Rory.
If you and your golfing buddies want an experience to remember, let Platinum NI take charge of your drive. In our care (we are also security trained and medically qualified), you are guaranteed to meet fascinating people and see extraordinary places.
Best of all, you’ll have the chance to play some of the best golf courses on the planet where the quality of the 18-holes is matched by the scenery and warmth of welcome.
ROYAL COUNTY DOWN
Royal Portrush – ‘The Royal’ as it’s referred to by the locals, is only course outside Scotland and England to host The Open Championship. It was sartorially elegant Englishman Max Faulkner who claimed the auld Claret Jug back in 1951, and almost seven decades later the beautiful and challenging Dunluce links will again host a Major when Rory McIlroy (who holds the course record), Darren Clarke (who lives nearby), and Graeme McDowell (a native of Portrush) join the world’s best golfers to battle it out for the 2019 Open Championship.
Just one hour south of Belfast sits another of the most celebrated golf courses in the world. Royal County Down regularly makes the top five best golf courses in the world list, this stunning links situated in the shadow of the magnificent Mourne Mountains. Eton-educated doyen of golf writers, Bernard Darwin, said of the view: ‘To see Slieve Donard’s crest just emerging from a sea of early mist is to taste one of the intense joys of shaving on the morning of a workless day.” RCD has hosted the Walker Cup (2007), Curtis Cup, The Amateur Championship, and a host of other leading events.
Just two miles away from Royal Portrush is Portstewart Golf Club. Although founded back in 1894, the Strand course is one of Ireland’s rising stars, evidenced by its staging of the 2017 Irish Open. If 1951 was a significant year for Royal Portrush, the same could be said for Portstewart Golf Club, if on a slightly smaller scale. As the ‘Royal’ enjoyed the privilege of playing host to The Open Championship, there were also some fringe benefits for its near neighbour. Selection as venue for the tournament’s Qualifying was the most obvious and in particular the influence it had on the club’s members. Faced with the arrival of some of the world’s best golfers, they decided in their wisdom to move the site of The Strand’s first tee to a high point overlooking the course. The legacy is one of the best opening shots in golf with the glorious panorama encompassing sand hills, a crescent of golden sand, Atlantic breakers, the mouth of the Foyle, and on to the Inishowen Peninsula.
Anyone who has played Castlerock Golf Club will tell you it has a particularly pernicious prevailing wind. Usually right in your face on all the wrong holes, it’s nearly always a big influence on the scorecard. The Mussendun championship links, named after the temple that looks down from the clifftop beyond, made top billing with Ryder Cup star Paul McGinley, who shot a course record 64 at Castlerock on day three of the 2001 PGA Irish Championship.
HONE YOUR IRON PLAY IN ADARE MANOR
Choice is also a feature of Rosapenna Golf Club. With no fewer than three courses to choose from, we recommend the testing Sandy Hills championship course. More than a century ago Rosapenna was a playground for the English aristocracy, gentlemen golfers in all their finery ambling along fairways designed by no less a figure than Old Tom Morris.
Close your eyes, take a pin, and stick it in a map of Ireland and wherever you land chances are there’s half a dozen great golf courses within a few miles radius. That certainly applies to the North West. Follow then coastline south from Inishowen and you’ll encounter County Donegal, or Murvagh as it’s known to most folk in the region. Designed by Ireland’s foremost golf architect Eddie Hackett, and re-modelled (with sympathy to the original design) by the esteemed Pat Ruddy, it is a long, but fair challenge and one of Darren Clarke’s favourite layouts.
Situated in the heart of Yeats country, County Sligo Golf Club (better known as Rosses Point) is home to the West of Ireland Amateur Championship (one of the four leading amateur tournaments held annually in Ireland). Renowned Ryder Cup player turned BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss described ‘The Point’ as: “A tremendous test for the high quality player, and great fun for the modest competitor.”
Further west in Sligo, about an hour from Rosses Point is Enniscrone. With fabulous views of Killala Bay, it is another classic Irish links course featuring some particularly dramatic dunes. Avid golfers who have found themselves shaken and stirred by this breath-taking course include a certain 007, Sean Connery. A further 50-miles west, overlooking Blacksod Bay and Achill Island is a real hidden gem. Carne is perched on the Belmullet Peninsula, County Mayo (next stop the Statue of Liberty) and is characterised by undulating fairways and soaring sandhills.
And if you want rugged and unspoiled, how about Connemara Golf Club? It may be off the beaten path, but believe us it is worth the effort. Built by the local community at the urging of local parish priest Fr Peter Waldron (in order to help a local community suffering economic deprivation) it features wide fairways set against the backdrop of the Twelve Bens Mountains.
Within easy striking distance of Platinum NI’s base is another of the ‘bucket list’ courses. The ‘K’ Club in County Kildare was venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup, and who could forget the emotional scenes as a Darren Clarke inspired European team triumphed just weeks after the death of his wife Heather? Built on the grounds of the Straffan Estate, in addition to the Ryder Cup course designed by Arnold Palmer, there is also a second ‘18’, a self-styled inland links (The Smurfit Course)
If you’ve ticked the box and stood on every tee box north of the border, why not look south to Dublin’s Fair City and the surrounding counties. Just 34-miles north of Dublin (east of Drogheda) lies County Louth Golf Club (or Baltray as it’s better known). Relatively unchanged since Tom Simpson and Molly Gourlay re-designed in 1935 the original lay-out (from 1891), this was the course on which current Irish professional Shane Lowry announced himself on the world scene, winning the 2004 Irish Open as an amateur.
Portmarnock Golf Club has staged the Canada Cup (now the World Cup), Irish Open, and Walker Cup (featuring a young Phil Mickelson). Any permutation of the three available nine-hole stretches will be both challenging, and rewarding. Ireland may be famous for those hard and fast links land fairways, but it also boasts some fine parkland. The superbly manicured Druids Glen (County Wicklow) has been labelled Ireland’s Augusta, and when you set your eyes on the kaleidoscope of colour that is such a feature of this championship course you will understand why.
Carton House also has two top class courses, The Montgomerie and The O’Meara. Voted ‘Irish Golf Resort of the Year’ in 2014, the venue has staged the European Tour’s Irish Open on no fewer than three occasions. Just over an hour away in Wicklow is Pat Ruddy’s European Club. Ruddy, Ireland’s greatest living course designer, bought, designed, and built this magnificent links. He is often on site, welcoming guests and adding a personal touch to what is an unforgettable experience. Mount Juliet is the only course in Ireland designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, it’s rolling parkland and lush fairways a contrast to the more traditional links. It was the venue for the 2002 WGC Championship, won by a certain Tiger Woods (his only Irish success).
Platinum NI doesn’t want to give too much away here. After all, if everyone knows they would no longer be ‘hidden’ gems. Suffice to say that with our local knowledge, we are happy to recommend some sublime courses that may not currently receive the attention they deserve. Here’s just a few examples. Ardglass Golf Club, founded in 1896 during the British golf boom, is surrounded by the sea on three sides. If you don’t like to play in the wind then maybe this isn’t the one for you.
Donegal is home to Portsalon Golf Club. An Irish Pebble Beach, this remote and picturesque course has undergone substantial re-design recently by former Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley. Also in Donegal is Narin & Portnoo. Perched along The Wild Atlantic Way, this little known and not especially long links somehow punches way above its weight (just check your scorecard for proof!).
The Island (Donabate, Dublin) was once the preserve of Dublin’s rich and only accessible by boat. Today anyone can test their skills on a course that is natural and very much in tune with its surroundings. Possibly the best course in Ireland ‘you’ve never heard of’.
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