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DaveP043

Some notes from my Ireland Adventure

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Whew, we made it!.  Although I'll tell you all, flying overnight and then driving 5 hours on the left side of the road will tire a person out.  We managed to stay awake til around 8 PM, so we only went 30 hours or so with only an hour or two sleeping on the plane.


Ballyliffin is a lovely small, or maybe extremely small town in the northernmost part of Ireland.  We're staying at a very nice modern 13-room hotel called the Ballyliffin Townhouse.  We got here around 12:30, checked in, had a bite of lunch, a stop at the golf club to make our arrangements, some more driving, dinner, and bed.  11 hours sleep, and we're in good shape and on local time.


Today we played Ballyliffin Old, built in the 1940s, I think, and without moving any dirt apparently.  There was not a single level lie in any fairway, just a succession of humps and dips and mounds.  Its hard to capture this is a long-range photo, but this ppicture of my buddy Rick and his wife Lisa gives you an idea.


DSCN1144 small.JPG  They did smooth the greens a little.  The turf is firm, the greens medium-fast, and the rough wasn't extremely dense.  The weather was lovely, short-sleeve weather, and we got done just as the first few drops of rain were falling.  And then I got my reward.DSCN1152 small.jpg


 


Finally, a view from the upper level of the clubhouse, looking up the first fairway.  Its hard to see it, but there's a whole lovely golf course out there.DSCN1154 small.JPG


 


 


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Checking in again, this time from Enniscrone.  on Tuesday we played the Glashedy Course at Ballyliffin, and it beat me up.  In hindsight, I was trying too hard, hit a bunch of hooks off the tee.  With a nice breeze blowing, and the fairways a bit narrower than the Old course, I struggled, but still loved the course.  


Yesterday was a travel day.  We too a small detour to drive through a part of Northern Ireland, just to say we had visited yet another country.  Then we took a longer detour, to Slieve League, with some of the  highest sea cliffs in Europe.  Then on to Enniscrone.


Today we drove about an hour west, to play at Carne.  This is not an old course, built in the 1990's, but is on some of the most dramatic dunes I've ever seen.  Its hard to capture the scale of the dunes, but I'll try with a couple of pictures.  First, the 8th green from behind.DSCN1177 small.JPG


 


and the second shot on the uphill 17thDSCN1184 small.JPG


 


Not only was the course tough, but we played in steady 20 mph winds, with gusts well over 30.  I hit a 9-iron from 100 yards (uphill) that was well short.  On the severely downhill 16th, playing just over 140 yards, I hit a nice smooth 6-iron (for me normally 160 yards on level ground).  I played a lot better, but still felt beat-up at the end.  Enough for now, tomorrow we get Enniscrone, and more rather intimidating looking dunes.  We can see them across the bay from out hotel, a rather pleasant spot called the Waterfront House.


Later, y'all  


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Great post Dave. Enjoyed the pictures along with your descriptions. Interesting was the head on that glass of Guinness. Looks thicker that what they pour in the states.

Enjoy yourself.

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I don't really know why, but in my experience the Guinness I get in the States isn't nearly as enjoyable as the Guinness I've had in Ireland.  It just might be the surroundings.

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Great Pics! An Ireland golf trip is one of the top items on my bucket list. I'm salivating over that Guinness. That looks like it would make worth the trip alone!

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Great Pics! An Ireland golf trip is one of the top items on my bucket list. I'm salivating over that Guinness. That looks like it would make worth the trip alone!

Me too! Hovering between happy for them on their awesome trip, and jealous as hell!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using MyGolfSpy mobile app

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I've fallen behind on my updates, but we've finished the last of our golf here with a fun day at Lahinch.  We've had a great two weeks, 8 incredible golf courses.  I'll go through my photos once I get home, and post some impressions of the remainder of the courses, and of the trip as a whole.  There's really nothing like links golf!

 

And on the plus side, I've been playing the Snell MTB the entire time, and still have a half dozen to play at home, where I can see how they really perform under conditions I truly understand.  

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Great post Dave. North West Ireland really is an exquisite area of the world for golf.

 

Most golfers on vacation in the country tend to miss it out and head to South West Ireland to the likes of Ballybunion, Lahinch, Waterville and Old Head. Or go to the North for Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and Portstewart. (But I think that you have already played all of those courses on previous trips  :D )

 

I region is well worth a visit if you are planning an Irish Vacation and the hospitality and craic..... is as you can expect from the Irish... truly wonderful.

 

BTW; I did some work experience for Guinness when I was younger; typically the beer overseas has a higher alcohol % content (which preserves it for longer in the cask), plus the Irish beer is fresher... as the locals drink it in volume! And the bar staff know how to look after it/the taps and pour a good pint... and I like the shamrock!

 

I look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.

 

Thanks, Guy

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Enniscrone was fun, much less severe than Carne. The first hole is deceptive, it looks really flat, til you turn the dogleg and see it climbing up into the dunes. The next 4 holes are in the dunes, then back in the flatlands for 5 holes. At 10, you climb back into the dunes, and stay there, with the last 4 holes being parallel to the coast. This is a photo from behind the 16th green, coming along the ocean and turning inland.

enniscrone 16.jpg

Then next day, Saturday, we drove south to Killarney, and checked into the Killeen House. I've been here before, its a great small hotel, with a self-service bar and an outstanding restaurant. Sunday was a touring day, we drove around Dingle in the rain, a great day not to be playing golf.

 

Monday was golf at Tralee. This is an Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay design. The first 9 is solid, the second nine is spectacular. Those dunes can be pretty tough in a stiff breeze. The 13th is a short par 3, but you definitely can't leave it short. Long isn't so bad, the ball can bounce off that hillside onto the green.

tralee 13.JPG

And this is the 15th green, taken form the side.

tralee 15.JPG

Tuesday we went to Waterville. We drove through light rain, and it was still drizzling when we started out. After about 3 holes, however, the rain stopped, and we had great sunny, but breezy, weather for the remainder. I probably enjoyed this course the best so far, the fairways are wide and inviting, but things get tougher as you get closer to the greens. The 18th is a great par-5 along the water.

waterville 18.JPG

Wedensday was Ballybunion, the big daddy for Ireland golf. Six holes to start out are semi-level along the road, and we had very light breezes starting out. At 11, however, the wind picked up to near gale, and the rain came sideways for about 10 minutes. Then it cleared up, and was windy but sunny for the remainder. You can see by the time we reach the 15th, this longer par-3 headed towards the beach, it was a lovely day. Breezy enough that for this 193 yard hole I was between 3-wood and driver.

ballybunion 15.JPGThe greens here were a bit disappointing. They've recently replaced the bent grass with a more native fescue, and the greens were probably the slowest that we played.

 

Yesterday (Friday) we played at Lahinch. After a reasonably benign first two holes, you face an uphill blind drive into the wind, followed by a downhill second towards the ocean. The par-5 4th requires another blind shot, this time the second over a big dune. There's a “traffic cop” on top of the dune, essential since this hole crosses the first part of the 18th fairway. The par-3 5th is yet another blind shot. This time you aim over the white rock, hoping to hit it over the first dune, and short of the second one. This is a look from the left side of the green, your shot has to carry the dune on the right side of the photo.

lahinch 5.JPG

For some strange reason, I really enjoy these holes, and the entire golf course. From the high point on the course here, you can see 10 green in the foreground, 12 running along the river to the left side, and 12 coming back toward me from the direction of that castle.

lahinch panorama.JPG

We had nice winds, 2 to 3 clubs, and not a drop of rain. A great final day of golf.  And the day was finished off in fine Irish style, we got to see a local fair in Ennistymon, where we were staying.  Live music in the street, a bartender race, a few pints, how could it end any better?

 

This trip has been a blast. Golf among the dunes is a real challenge for a number of reasons. Blind shots, deep grass, heavy and gusting winds, uneven lies, extremely firm greens (no way to spin balls to a stop) are just the start. I didn't play real well, not a round in the 70s, but none in the 90s either. And I loved every minute. Every course we played was on the ocean, the views are incredible.   

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Thanks for sharing Dave.  For someone that has never been and always wanted to go it is great to be able to see it!

 

Sounds like a fair bit of driving but the countryside looks lovely.  

 

Also appears that you walked each of the courses?  If so, with the wind, hills, etc., were you pretty beat after a round?

 

Hope I can make it out there some day.  That Guinness pint might just be worth it all by itself!

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BTW; I did some work experience for Guinness when I was younger; typically the beer overseas has a higher alcohol % content (which preserves it for longer in the cask), plus the Irish beer is fresher... as the locals drink it in volume! And the bar staff know how to look after it/the taps and pour a good pint... and I like the shamrock!

If I remember right, the Guinness in Ireland is listed as having 4.5% ABV, which is pretty similar to most of the pale ales I prefer at home.  And I admit, even though I know the shamrock is just done for us tourists, I like it too.

 

Thanks for sharing Dave.  For someone that has never been and always wanted to go it is great to be able to see it!

 

Sounds like a fair bit of driving but the countryside looks lovely.  

 

Also appears that you walked each of the courses?  If so, with the wind, hills, etc., were you pretty beat after a round?

 

Hope I can make it out there some day.  That Guinness pint might just be worth it all by itself!

We did do a significant amount of driving, but we didn't schedule any golf on our travel days, so it all worked out fine.  The better courses in Ireland aren't clustered in groups like some of the great golf in Scotland, so a bit of driving is pretty much a necessity.  I would caution people about relying too much on GPS for directions.  ours took us down some pretty narrow single-track roads in order to save a minute or two.  If you stay on the more major routes (still 2-lane) the signposts are pretty good, and navigation is easy.

We did walk every day, using trolleys (pull carts) for our clubs.  With the hill, and the deep rough, the walking could get tiring, but it was manageable.  I'm 60 years old, and came back in better shape than when I left.  I wouldn't want to try to play 36, though, unless I took a caddie for both rounds.

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Really nice Dave. That was a good tour you took us on. I've not ever given a lot of thought to playing over there but your descriptions and pictures are making me reconsider. Thanks.

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Really nice Dave. That was a good tour you took us on. I've not ever given a lot of thought to playing over there but your descriptions and pictures are making me reconsider. Thanks.

We had a great time, and part of my continuing enjoyment comes from sharing with friends.  I've been lucky enough to visit Scotland and Ireland a few times, and the golf there is amazing.  The true links there are different from any links-style course I've played in the US.  But the experience goes way beyond golf, the people have been great, food and drink are great, its just a complete experience.  I'd recommend that for anyone who can afford to go, do it.  You can plan your own trip (I'll share everything I know if you ask), or you can go through one of the many good golf trip planners.  Oh, and knowing how fragile our bodies can become as we get a little older, I'd tell you to go NOW, while you can still enjoy the walking.

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