How I discovered again new sites of the Island
After a smooth landing at Dublin airport, I drove my car on the left hand side on the new highway to Galway. „we meet you at the Races“ John McLaughlin said. I thought that there will be some horses and a nice quiet Monday evening with a pint of Guiness waiting for me. But I was super surprised after I learned the lesson that Galway Races is one of the biggest in Europe with 150.000 visitors during that week. Massive crowds were cheering the horses they bet on and it was a great experience at the race track. In the Grand Stand VIP area I even was introduced to the Mayor of Galway Mrs. Hildegarde Naughton, so I felt really welcome. After that attraction we went out for dinner at Kirwan‘s Lane Restaurant a must for seafood lovers. The night in Mayrick Hotel was pleasant and so I started
the next day to play at Ballyconneely Connemara GC. 10 min behind Galway I stopped for a nice cup of coffee next door to the office of the North & West Coast Links Golf to gain the
latest brochure and some directions from John and Justin.
After a 1,5 hrs drive I was ready to strike my first golf ball in pure sunshine conditions with marvellous views to the sea. After a good round with 7 guests from the South of Ireland I drove back to Clifden and slept at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. The dinner was served by the proprietor Paul Hughes. The next day started with fog and so the Kylemore Castle which I passed on my 2,5 hrs way to Belmullet Carne GC was even more mysterious. I stopped and visited it and saw the walled garden a wonderful piece of grown history. Carne is a real Links course and beautiful settled by the sea. The bar tender gave me some tips which helped to get around. After another 1 hrs drive I reached a huge park with Mount Falcon Country House Hotel in it. Immediately with entering I could feel the warmth and the typical Irish hospitality. The room they gave me was not a regular one, but one that must have had 100 sm. Living room, writing corner, sleeping room, bath and a view to the peaceful park. Everything sensitively furnished.
Mount Falcon is a must for Golfers, Fishermen, Clay-Pigeons-Shooter, etc. and the best all of them can practice on ground before heading to the courses and to River Mayo with its massive salmon sources which is on the other side of the road. A big plus are the Country Houses (Woodlands, Lakeside, Courtyard) where up to 6 people can sleep, live and even wash their dirty fisher clothes. On the next day I drove through the beautiful city Ballina and reached Enniscrone GC(only 20 min. from the Mount Falcon) a real Links tester. Pat Sweeny the GM told me – don‘t be long on any hole / don‘t take risks / use putter as whenever you can – these guidelines definitely saved me from the loss of even more ball. Play with members will help as well.
Back on the road I drove about 1,5 hours to Enniskillen, North Ireland. Funny enough there was no sign indicating the border, just my GPS calculated the miles/h into km/h so a max. of 96 km/h speed was indicated on country roads. Only 5 miles north of the town centre I entered the private park of Lough Erne. What a change from rural Links Golf to Parkland Golf. Everything very well maintained. As always I asked if the starter could ask that I can play with somebody and as always some Irish players were pleased to have a stranger with them, which is always great fun and easy going. The magnificent designed Faldo Course is a must and a big challenge. I would strongly recommend a buggy or at least an electric trolley, because the distances between the holes are always an other PAR 3 or even PAR 4. Take your time at the wonderful placed half way house overlooking the 9th green and the lake to get a coffee or even a glass of wine The hotel is designed for Americans. Air-condition everywhere. But the view is beautiful over the course and the lake and very quiet, only nature.
After the final 2 hrs drive I was back in Dublin and checked in at Portmarnock Hotel. An icon and it feels like when you enter the car park. I am glad to hear that the rooms are going to be refurbished during wintertime. The Bernhard Langer designed Course is a challenge but playable. It starts slow and easy and gets tougher the further you get. On some tee boxes you can enjoy a beautiful view to the sea and the beach. I have not played this time but experienced it the last time – the Old Course at Portmarnock (10 min. drive) and that is a real old Links as it should be.
Also a strong recommendation is Baltray GC (1 hrs north) a former Irish Open Course. In the evening visit Malahide (5 min drive). A nice little village with exquisite dining and definitely finalise the evening at Gibeys – the pub – at Malahide. You even could visit Malahide Castle and its huge park. I was in there have great fun with 30.000 other concert fans of the little man from Minneapolis – Prince.
John McLaughlin: North & West Coast Links Golf, firstname.lastname@example.org T +353-91-868642
Hotel Meyrick, Galway: email@example.com T +353-91-564041
Connemara Championship Links, Ballyconneely: firstname.lastname@example.org T +353-91-868642
Abbeyglen Castel Hotel, Clifden: email@example.com T +353-95-21201
Kylemore Abbey & Garden, Kylemore: firstname.lastname@example.org T +353-95-41146
The Carne, Belmullet: email@example.com T +353-91-868642
Mount Falcon, Ballina: firstname.lastname@example.org T +353-96-74472
Enniscrone Golf Club: email@example.com T +353-91-868642
Lough Erne, Enniskillen: firstname.lastname@example.org T +44-28-66323230
Moira Cassidy Director Golf, Portmarnock: email@example.com T +353-1-8666591