Normally at this time of year I write an article about the great golf destinations available to those golfers well aware of the cabin fever brought on by winter's chills, snow and brown grass that creates a healthy longing for warm weather golf. At Classic GOLF Tours, we have plenty of ideas to share with your from short Arizona hops to lengthy golf tours of Argentina, Malaysia, Colombia or New Zealand. These destinations are south of the equator thus when winter strikes us in Colorado, it summer time down under. What I really want to tell you about, however, is my recent trip to Ireland particularly because it was such a great experience and partially because if you are thinking about Ireland, now is the time to call us. Putting off setting up your trip to Ireland, Scotland or England can cause you to miss out on some of the best courses each county has to offer.
My associate and I took ten golfers on a whirlwind adventure that started in Dublin, reach into Northern Ireland, the North and West coast of the Republic of Ireland. In nine days, we played eight of the region's best. Moving us around in comfort and security was our driver Brendan Leahy. Our twenty seat coach had plenty of room for twelve, our clubs and luggage. Brendan was not only a skillful driver, he was well read in Irish history, storytelling and jokes. With his gift for gab, I am convinced he kissed the Blarney Stone multiple times.
On the day of arrival, we played Portmarnoch Old, which should not be confused with the Portmarnoch Links Golf Course designed by Bernard Langer nearby. This is the best course in the area and for many the finest championship course in the Republic of Ireland. It is also near the airport and a couple of fine hotels. We were all a bit shaky from the overnight flight, but managed the bunkers, long carries and undulating greens though I don't believe anyone kept score. The next day we travel north to Ballyliffin located on a spit of land about as far north as one can travel in Ireland. The Ballyliffin golf club has two courses – the Old Course and the newer Glashedy. We played Ballyliffin Glashedy. The first four holes were challenging indeed. Deep bunkers with sides of layered peat moss bricks made advancing the ball tough if not impossible. A strong wind and the thickest rough I have ever seen made fairway play a must. My supply of golf balls took a serious hit. We stayed at the Ballyliffin Lodge, which is not only the best place to stay in Ballyliffin, it may be the only. Sean the owner was a gracious host and the hotel bar was a welcoming place for meeting locals.
Our next stop was Royal Portrush-Dunluce site of the 2012 Irish Open. It is also the only course outside the mainland of the United Kingdom to host a British Open, which it did in 1951. Between the Harry Colt design and the unbelievable views it is easy to understand why Golf Magazine ranks it no. 12 in the world. The Valley course, which runs along the side of the Dunluce is a fine course as well.
After two nights in Ballyliffin, we made our way west to Rosepenna. We were fortunate with fine weather the first few days, but Rosapenna greeted us with wind and rain. Rosapenna golf tradition goes back to 189 with the Old Course created by the famous three golf architects Old Tom Morris James Baird, and Harry Vardon, but it is the Sandy Hill track opened in 2003 that gets all the buzz. That's the course we played and the weather added to our experience.