Golf in Ireland
Over recent weeks, as people begin to focus on booking their 2017 links golf tour to Ireland, we have been getting some questions. Can I really play Ballybunion? Does Royal County Down take visitor tee times on the weekend? Does Royal Portrush allow juniors on? So instead of taping the the answers and hitting the “play” button, we decided to do the modern equivalent and write a Blog.
There are over 15,000 golf courses in the US, and just over 20% or 3,000 of those are ‘private’. In theory at least, that means that in order to play one of those private courses in the US – think Augusta, Olympia Fields, Merion etc, you tter be buddies with a member who is kind enough to invite you out.
Not so in Ireland. Every golf course in Ireland – we invite objections in the unlikely event we missed one! – is open to green fees. So let’s take The K Club as an example which hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup. Yes, The K Club has members but will readily accept green fees too. In fact, this is a major source of revenue for the golf clubs in Ireland, especially the ‘trophy’ courses such as Tralee, Lahinch, Waterville etc. The green fees they take in greatly reduce the annual subscriptions that the members must pay.
Surely there must be some exceptions to letting a bad 16 handicapper tee it up on some of Ireland’s greatest golf links? How about Royal County Down, ranked the world’s number 1 golf course by Golf Digest? Nope – book early, be prepared to pay the green fee (not cheap) and you’ll be heading off the first tee at Royal County Down.
OK, so I can play wherever I want but are the tee times for visitors really restrictive? Not really. Again let’s take one of the top courses in Ireland – The Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club – as an example. Ballybunion take visitor green fees on The Old Course Monday to Friday broadly until 1pm, so given early Summer light, that allows for plenty of visitor tee times when you golf in Ireland. Even at that, Ballybunion is probably more restrictive than most. Take Royal Portrush, host of the 2019 Open Championship as another example. Royal Portrush takes visitor green fees every day of the week except Saturday, which is member’s competition day. There are restrictions re times on all other days, but broadly speaking, there is a good amount of hours set aside for visitor green fees.
Almost all courses will have a member’s competition day set aside where they won’t take green fees and this will either be on a Saturday or Sunday. That said, often times, there will be some availability on member competition day’s later in the afternoon.
In the immortal words of Christy Moore, what if I am “black and I’m pagan, I’m gay and I’m left and I’m free”, can I still play any golf course in Ireland? Yes Sir and Madam. Real Irish Golf is not aware of any golf course in Ireland that will not take visitor’s green fees on account of any exclusionary criteria. There are a few that still don’t have women members – Portmarnock Golf Club and Royal Dublin – but that does not prevent visiting lady golfers from playing the courses.
Golf in Ireland – that’s the story . We’re a welcoming bunch over here in Ireland. Every course is open to you, everyone is welcome, and you can play almost anytime.
So no excuses – contact realirishgolf.com today and let’s get your 2017 Ireland Golf Tour teed up.