|Castlerock Golf Club in Northern Ireland is one of the Emerald Isle's many gorgeous links. (Brandon Tucker/GolfPublisher.com)|
What currency does Ireland use?
Ireland uses the euro (€); Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, is on the pound sterling.
Is driving difficult in Ireland?
The steering wheel is on the right and you drive on the left, as in England. Roads, especially in rural areas, can be a bit narrow compared to those in North America, and roundabouts take some getting used to. Northwestern Ireland has the worst roads on the island and can be especially tricky at night or in bad weather. Exercise caution.
Is Ireland golf cheaper than Scotland golf?
Not really, although there's less sticker shock with the euro than with the pound (but not much less).
Premier Scottish golf courses like Turnberry, St. Andrews' Old Course, Carnoustie and Royal Troon range from £115 to £150 (about U.S. $225-$295 as of late March 2007). Northern Ireland's top two courses, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, charge £150 and £110, respectively.
In the southwest of Ireland, Ballybunion costs €165 (about $220), and nearby Old Head commands €295. At the K Club near Dublin, fees for non-resort guests run as high as €375.
Are courses measured in yards or meters?
Both, oddly enough. Most of the world-class links courses use yardage, but many of the parkland courses that see fewer tourists use meters. There are exceptions, so always double-check before you hit a club too long or short.
Is it difficult passing between Ireland and Northern Ireland?
They are different countries, but it isn't a hassle. There is no customs at border crossings, just a handful of money-exchange shops. Still, as always with international travel, it's a good idea to keep your passport handy.
What are "golf tours"?
A variety of travel operators offer golf tours in Ireland. This is a good option if you want to leave detail work like course and hotel bookings to others or you don't want to drive. These tours are more expensive than booking a trip yourself, but they can be very convenient.
Can I ride a cart in Ireland?
Most clubs only offer "buggies" to golfers with disabilities who can provide a doctor's note, and many have none at all. Some newer clubs do rent carts, but you almost never see anyone take one. Check cart policy with the individual course ahead of time. Electric trolleys are popular and can be rented at clubs for €10-€20.
How can I get a caddie?
Caddies are available at most of the high-profile clubs and some of the lower-level ones. In the high season most courses have caddies on hand; reserving one ahead of time, while encouraged, isn't required. In the off-season, many clubs don't staff caddies or require you to reserve in advance. Caddie fees for 18 holes usually range from €20 to €40; the standard gratuity is about €10.
Where should I stay in Ireland?
There are four and five-star golf resorts in most regions, and Irish villages and towns are littered with B&Bs. Check out GolfEurope.com's lodging recommendations.
Can I golf year-round in Ireland?
It rarely snows in Ireland. Winters have been getting a little warmer in recent years (but also a little wetter), and if you catch a good day a winter round can be quite pleasant. Parkland courses take a beating in the winter, but the more water-permeable links are usually in pretty good shape. Winter rules and tees are in effect, and green fees are usually about half the summer rate.
April 5, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Dublin is Ireland's largest and most tourist-friendly city, with marquee attractions from the Book of Kells to the Guinness brewery, But Ireland's best known golf courses are almost all on the west coast, in the northwest or in Northern Ireland. Because of this, many golfers on wish-list trips never set foot in the capital. That's a shame, because a trip to Dublin can combine the charms of all things urban and Irish with exceptional -- and inexpensive -- links and parkland golf.
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