This is #1 on our Top 10 Tips for your Ireland Golf vacation. Get your itinerary right to ensure a good balance between playing the best golf courses in Ireland but avoid viewing Ireland from the inside of a car window. While in theory one golf course may be 100 miles from another, 100 miles in Ireland out on the coast where, by definition the great links courses in Ireland are located, can mean a 2.5 hour drive; not too many 4 lane highways to be found! The best advice here is to pick a region and center your Ireland golf vacation in this broad region. See our recent blog post “Ireland and Golf Regions” for advice on each area and which region will be best suited to your party.
Timing is Everything
No. 2 on our Top 10 Tips for Your Ireland Golf Vacation – “Timing”. The prime golf season is from April to October in Ireland. You can of course golf outside of those months – and we can get you great deals outside of that window – but you bring increased weather risk into play. So it is best to plan your Links tour between April and October. We are often asked what are our very favorite times to golf in Ireland? Assuming you can be flexible, we love late May/early June and September.
Real Irish Golf does recommend the use of caddies at the courses you will play. When you are playing the great golf links of Ireland, hiring a caddie will greatly enhance the experience with the added benefit of hopefully cutting down on the number of golf balls required. Away from the course, the caddie will be a fountain of knowledge on all things local, from restaurants, bars, history and local legends. How much will that cost? You can expect to pay about 40 Euros a bag (~ $50) plus gratuity typically 10-20%. If you want to cut down on costs, consider hiring a fore caddie for the group instead. For more on the Irish caddie, check out our blog “The Irish Golf Caddie”.
Driving the Green
You have two basic options regarding transportation while here. First you can drive yourself or secondly you can hire a driver for the tour. For parties of more than four, and if you can spring for it, we usually recommend a driver in your package. The driver will again be a great fountain of knowledge and advice which will add to the experience. It also allows everyone in the party to relax, have a few beers post round, and with a larger party, the cost is spread out. If you decide to drive yourself, that is not a problem but we do strongly advise you take an Automatic and have GPS (we can provide). Whatever you do, don’t drink and drive as the Irish drink driving regulations are very strict with random breathalyzer testing fairly common.
Minimize Hotel Changes
If you are in Ireland on a 1 week golf trip, we recommend ideally no more than two hotels during the week. For example, if you decide to take our West of Ireland tour “Go West”, we recommend staying in one twon such as Ballina or Sligo. This will allow you to access most of the best links golf courses in this region, such as Rosses Point, Enniscrone, and Connemara on day trips, whilst taking in great scenery on the journey to and from the courses. This avoids the hassle of checking in and out of hotels, and has the added benefit of allowing you to get to know the local town you are staying in.
Number 6 on our Top 10 Tips for Your Ireland Golf Vacation – Relax! You are here on vacation, to play the great Irish courses such as Ballybunion, Royal County Down, etc., but don’t kill yourself. Eightenn holes in one day is enough and allows sufficient time in the rest of the day to enjoy the other pleasures of Ireland and recuperate for the next day’s links adventure. Links golf courses can be demanding, can be undulating, and you most definitely want to avoid rushing around so that you can take in the stunning scenery and serene beauty. So , as we like to say in Ireland, “take it handy”.
The Full Irish Breakfast is ‘your only man’
The full Irish Breakfast will have you well set up for a day on the links. Consisting of eggs, rashers (aka bacon), Irish pudding and sausages at the very minimum, but also likely to have beans and tomatoes on the plate as well. This is included in all of our rates, and will set you up for the day and will ensure you won’t be flagging as you head into the final straight of your round.
Golf Gear – Be a Minimalist
No. 8 on our Top 10 Tips for your Ireland Golf Vacation. There is no need to order an old fashioned steamer trunk and overdo the packing. Bring the essentials – clubs!, one good set of rain gear, a good pair of waterproof golf shoes, 2 sweaters etc. And your caddie will not thank you for the 40 golf balls in your bag. If it turns out there is something that you should have brought but didn’t, you can pick it up at any of the golf courses you will be visiting, all of which will have a well stocked pro shop.
Don’t try to Reinvent your Golf Game
Even if it were possible – which for most of us it’s not! – there is no need to reinvent your golf game for the Irish links. That said, a few basic tips are in order, and will have you taking money from your golf buddies in the bar afterwards. As obvious as it may seem, our number one tip is perhaps obvious – keep the ball on the shorter grass. So if that means parking the ego and laying up instead of going for that one in ten 220 yard 3 wood carry into a well protected green, so be it. A simple bump and run shot is a good shot to have in the arsenal and certainly more advisable that the Mickelson flop shot. Don’t be afraid to pull out the putter from well of the green – up to 40 yards! – to make the up and down for your par. Other than that, dance with the golf game you brought with you.
Embrace the Experience
Last but not least on our Top 10 Tips for your Ireland Golf Vacation “embrace the experience”. Ireland is a stunningly beautiful country especially out on the coast where you will spending most of your time. The pace of life is a little slower and more chilled and it may take a day or two to let that rhythm settle in. So yes enjoy the links, but manage your golfing expectations, try not to worry too much about how you play, and focus on enjoying the full Irish experience, both on and away from the golf course, and plan to leave with a lifetime of memories.