Ireland Trip Report
Who: 8some from Buffalo NY, all golf buddies at Park CC, handicaps 0-3-4-5-8-11-15-17.
When: August 2017
Weather: Wonderful, 60 – 70 degrees , rain free 6 of 7 days
Our Course Rankings
1 – Portrush Dunluce: felt like a championship golf course, impeccable condition and the most difficult of the 8 courses we played. The 2 new holes (particularly the par 5 seventh hole) are a big improvement. This is a perfect venue for the 2019 British Open.
1st hole at Portrush Dunluce
2 – Royal County Down: beautiful setting, course condition was OK but not as good as I’ve seen on previous Ireland trips. They should try to steal the Portrush grounds superintendent. The are finally getting a driving range. it will be adjacent to the 17th and 18th holes ( a 500 yard cart ride from the first tee) and is expected to open in 2018. We should have played Annesley for a 2nd round in a 36 hole day.
#9 at Royal County Down
3 – Portstewart Strand: terrific golf entertainment. The wild and wooly front nine is most memorable.
The top 3 courses (Portrush, RCD, and Portstewart) were top shelf, world class golf. All deserve to be included in your bucket list.
4 – Portrush Valley: easier than Dunluce. Makes for a relaxing 2nd round in a 36 hole day.
New 7th hole Portrush Dunluce
5 – County Louth: Interesting, well worth playing, rock hard greens require precise shot making.
6 – Castlerock: hard to follow routing, fair course condition, some interesting holes. Worth playing because it is conveniently close to Portrush and Portstewart.
7 – Ardglass: prettiest scenery, there are some exceptionally good holes along the water. However, much of the course felt like an amateur’s cow pasture. AVOID until Donald Trump buys this course and turns it into a Pebble Beach / Old Head rival.
8 – Ballycastle: AVOID
Bushmills Inn may be the best buddy golf trip hotel in the world. Outstanding included breakfast, excellent restaurant, clubby bar, beautiful patio, and convenient location close to Portrush and Portstewart. We took the Giant’s Causeway tour – very interesting and worth an hour of the groups time on the way to golf. The group wasn’t as keen about the Bushmills Distillery tour.
Slieve Donard is 5 star hotel. Stay in one of the new spa rooms. Walk to Villa Vinci restaurant in Newcastle. VV was so good we ate dinner there twice. Make a reservation. Great food at very reasonable prices. The crab claw appetizer and lamb shank entrée are highly recommended. AVOID the Percy French restaurant — food is adequate, service is slow, and prices are high
Our tour operator, Celtic Fairways, and their coach driver (John) did an excellent job for us.
LESSON: Irish golf is very penal due to pot bunkers, gorse, and knee high grass. The 1st commandment is HIT IT STRAIGHT off the tee. Fairways are rock hard and the ball runs forever. Even short hitters are long if they can land the ball in the fairway consistently (If you can’t, don’t go to Ireland)