A golfing adventure

Going off the beaten track to take in the sights and sounds of Ireland isn’t just highly recommended, it’s a must, says Brian Keogh

Skimming golf balls 200 yards at a gong on the lake at the famous Gap of Dunloe – as Irish 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and a handful of top professionals did a few years ago — is mightily impressive.

Filmed as part of the "Every Shot Imaginable campaign" for the European Tour, the challenge was to skim a ball 200 yards across a lake and hit a nine-inch gong. But as stunning as the European Tour’s "Every Shot Imaginable” series was, Pádraig Harrington can work wonders all on his own.

Adventures around every corner

Yes, Gareth Maybin’s trick shot – The Impossible Shot – was worth seeing. However, Harrington’s repertoire went a little further – and before you think it, no ball collectors were injured during the Dubliner's session at Royal Portrush on the Antrim coast, the venue for the 2019 Open Championship.

Then there was his blindfolded shot at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club on the Dublin-Wicklow border — host venue for the Curtis Cup matches between the top women amateurs from the USA and the cream of Great Britain and Ireland in 2016. Faced with a135-yard shot to the hole, with only his caddie Ronan Flood to help line him up, Harrington was placed behind two trees and asked to find a 9ft target. Did he make it?

Golfing in Ireland can make you laugh and its challlenges can make you cry... all in the one round, such is the draw of over 400 courses across the island.

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A proud Dubliner with a Donegal heart

“Players love coming over for the Irish Open,” says Paul McGinley. “It’s important to be different from the other stops on tour and they always have a great time in Ireland because there is so much to see away from the golf course.”

While Paul McGinley might have grown up playing at Grange Golf Club in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, with his mother hailing from Rathmullan and father from Dunfanaghy, County Donegal is close to his heart. Despite being a proud Dubliner, McGinley would be the first to tell you to jump in the car and head to the northwest and County Donegal.

Portsalon and Royal Portrush

The beautiful links at Portsalon is one of his favourites, but he’s equally smitten by Royal Portrush, just across in County Antrim.

That’s also a favourite of proud Northern Irishman and European Tour star Gareth Maybin, who is a bit of a trick shot artist in his spare time!

In our video, Maybin shows off his repertoire of crazy shots at Ballyclare Golf Club near Belfast. It’s one of 27 clubs in County Antrim alone, and Maybin particularly recommends it for its warm welcome.

Play amongst the pros…

When he’s not travelling the world, Maybin loves to get out and about in Ireland and, while Northern Ireland’s finest courses are top of his agenda, another favourite is the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Links in County Cork.

“It’s just the location and the spectacular scenery down there on the southern tip of Ireland,” he says. “Plus it’s a pretty good golf course as well. We’ve so many to choose from. Royal Portrush, Portmarnock and Baltray are fantastic; and Hilton Templepatrick near my home in Belfast is a great young course.”

Take your pick…Who knows, you might even come across some golfing tricksters just attempting the impossible.

Think the Gap of Dunloe is beautiful, hear what gold photographer Dave Cannon has to say about Ireland's courses...

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