We’ll start with our island’s credentials. In the last 20 years or so, we’ve been named International Golf Destination of the Year on more than one occasion by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, we’ve hosted the prestigious Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and The Open, plus we’ve produced more than our fair share of major winners. Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington – the latter two are Team Europe Ryder Cup Vice Captains – have all held up trophies. And that’s just for starters. Our legacy of golfing champions goes way back into the early 20th century with Fred Daly, Christie O’Connor Snr and Jnr, Des Smyth and Harry Bradshaw all memorable names from the world of golf for all the right reasons.
With over 300 golf clubs, including a quarter of the world’s natural links courses, and a selection of exceptional championship courses in pretty amazing locations, every year over 240,000 golfers from all over the world come to our greens to experience our impressive but unforgiving fairways.
And yet you never feel crowded...
Many people book inclusive packages with specialist golf tour operators, who are able to arrange an itinerary including tee times and accommodation. But often half the joy of a golfing trip is arranging everything for yourself, so here’s some advice to get you started…
When to play
Most of Ireland’s courses, especially links, are open all year round. However, courses are in best condition and weather is most suitable for golfing from April to October. In summer, daylight hours can stretch up to 10pm so two rounds and a lazy lunch can easily fit into a day.
It’s always best to call ahead for availability and book your tee times in advance. For green fees, most clubs offer special rates for visitors and groups, so be sure to ask about any special offers from the club or your tour operator. They may also know about packages that allow you to play two or three courses over your trip, so that you get to test your skill against our greens.
If you haven’t brought your own clubs with you, many places offer club hire – just call ahead to check. The innovative Clubs To Hire service also makes golf easy for visitors. On arrival in Dublin Airport, you can hire everything from the clubs to all sorts of related golf equipment. You can even check out Clubs To Buy if you’ve liked the clubs you’ve hired so much while you're here, you want to buy them!
Book ahead, too, for caddies (available at bigger championship courses) and buggies or carts (not as common). The cost will vary for all. If you have a handicap certificate from your club it’s worth bringing it along. Bring plenty of golf balls, too, as you’re sure to lose a few! We did say our courses were challenging!
What to wear
Traditional dress codes are still common in Ireland's clubs. Jeans, shorts and trainers are frowned upon while some clubs might insist on a jacket and tie for the dining room. The safest bet is smart casual, with waterproof gear and sunscreen at hand just in case. Many clubs will only allow soft spikes, so do check in advance.
The 19th hole
Part of the pleasure of golfing in Ireland is the warm welcome and the good "craic" (fun) after a round. From a trad music session in a rural pub to top gourmet grub in a gastropub, you’ll find the "if only" shots take on a life of their own when retold. You see, the clubhouse itself (or the nearest watering hole) is a great place to trade victories or horror stories about tricky dog legs and high winds with other players.