Pick up on the buzz from the Open, the first in Ireland since 1951, with Laura French’s top spots to tee off.
Royal Portrush Gold Club
Few clubs could beat Northern Ireland’s revered Royal Portrush, whose Dunluce Links course played host to the 148th Open Championship last weekend. Founded in 1888 and later held under the patronage of King Edward VII, it has set the stage for some pretty iconic moments, from the inaugural Irish Open Amateur Championship to the first British Ladies’ Championship outside England. It comprises two courses, overlooked by the historic Dunluce Castle.
Book it: Green fees start at £50 for Valley Links and £220 for Dunluce Links. Suggest Everglades Hotel in Londonderry for a good base around an hour’s drive away; double rooms are from £80 per person B&B.
The K Club
Host of the 2006 Ryder Cup, the 2016 Irish Open and 13 European Opens, The K Club in Kildare is something of a celebrity on the scene. It has two Arnold Palmer-designed courses – the Ryder Cup Course, a parkland layout featuring winding river, fountain-bedecked lake and abundance of trees – and the links-style Smurfit Course. Anyone who’s anyone has played here, from Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy, but it’s not just about the sporting side, with an ultra-luxe chateau-turned-hotel complete with spa and gourmet dining.
Book it: A golf and dine package including one night’s accommodation, full Irish breakfast, a four-course meal and round of golf costs from €220 per person. Agents can book via Preferred Hotels & Resorts.
There’s more in the way of heritage at the 350-acre, 13th-century Ashford Castle, set on the banks of Lough Corrib in County Mayo. Its scenic, nine-hole parkland course – built on the estate’s original deer park – is an excellent bet for beginners as well as more advanced players wanting to improve their skills, while those wanting to up the game further will find several internationally renowned links courses nearby.
Book it: Rates start at €800 per room per night, including breakfast and complimentary green fees.
Lough Erne Resort
Clients after something a little more modern? Look to the award-winning Lough Erne, opened in 2007 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, and boasting a course designed by Sir Nick Faldo, plus a parkland alternative that’s hosted 10 Ulster PGA Championships. It’s set among head-turning landscapes – think billowing hills and blue mirror lakes – with a five-star hotel and spa, plus golf lessons taught by PGA professionals.
Book it: A Couple’s Faldo Getaway including overnight stay, breakfast and round of golf for two costs from £95 per person.
Old Head Golf Links
When it comes to sheer natural beauty, nothing comes close to Kinsale’s Old Head Golf Links, perched on a headland jutting more than two miles into the Atlantic. Spread across 180 acres and marked out by a lighthouse, the par-72 course is all about the experience, with wild flowers lining the cliffs, sea birds flying overhead and waves crashing below. But it’s not just about the golf, with 15 lavishly designed suites offering idyllic views over the ocean.
Book it: Green fees for the 18-hole course start at €225. Seaview suites cost from €275 per night (per suite) in low season, including breakfast.