Ireland has been described as ‘golf’s hidden secret’ in terms of fabulous golf courses to play. It’s perhaps less of a secret these days with some 250,000 annual visitors, but this country – about the size of North American state West Virginia – offers some 300 golf courses including nearly one third of all the links courses in the world.
Many golfers, including major champions such as Tom Watson and Tiger Woods, rate Ireland as one of the world’s top places to play golf. Tom Watson described playing Ireland’s links courses as “the way golf was meant to be played”.
If you fancy teeing up on the Emerald Isle, how best to make sure you get value for money?
The good news is golf in Ireland is mostly very reasonably priced to start with. This is complemented by some very well-priced accommodation and transport costs – low cost flight companies such as Ryanair make it inexpensive to get there from the UK mainland.
Another little known fact is that every golf club in Ireland is open to the public so this extends the choice – and therefore the competitive pricing – even more.
Online research will yield a raft of golf courses in Ireland, and some virtual legwork will reveal their green fees and any offers they may be running at certain times. You could put your own Irish itinerary together like this and, while you’ll save money, it can be time consuming – and you’ll have to arrange transport (unless you take your own car by ferry) and accommodation.
If flying, it’s likely to be cheaper if you fly on a weekday rather than the weekend – and you’ll probably make further savings if you fly at off-peak times of the day. Check the airline’s online timetable to check your options. Don’t forget to factor in the likely extra costs for hold luggage and transporting your golf clubs.
Ferry pricing is tending nowadays to follow the airline’s model as described above, so if you’re travelling by ferry look to sail in the week.
Vouchers and Two for One offers
A way of speeding up the search for budget golf is to seek out voucher offers and other deals. A search online will yield various options: one choice is to buy a pass which gives you access to cheaper golf from participating golf courses. Various online companies offer a variation on this.
Two for one offers, as their name suggests, give you two rounds for the price of one at participating clubs so can make for economical golf. In the case of two for one arrangements, vouchers and passes, there may be restrictions on days and times you can play and maybe the time of year (in and out of season, for example).
Golf Break Packages
An efficient way of arranging your golfing trip in Ireland is through specialist golf holiday companies. With their experience in putting together golf itineraries and – with their buying power enabling the arrangement of competitively priced golf, accommodation and transport – there’s a very good chance they can arrange an attractively priced package.
There’s also the convenience of a golf trip organised by a specialist. If doing it yourself, along with arranging golf you need to research accommodation and (if applicable) transport and car hire – not to mention making sure you get the best prices possible. It can be done, but it takes time – and there’s the possible frustration of not being able to book the golf courses and accommodation you wish on the dates and times you require.
Many golf break organisers specialise in a selection of golfing destinations including Ireland golf tours, so you benefit from vast experience and the ability to select from usually a series of destinations focusing on specific areas.
Courses to Try
Ireland boasts many well-known and spectacular courses such as Royal Portrush, Royal County Down and Portstewart to name a few, but there are many more – you’ll need several trips to even scratch the surface of Ireland’s golfing treasures.
It’s certainly possible to enjoy world-class golfing experiences at more than reasonable prices.
Adrian Stanley is the founder of AGS Golf Vacations, which specialises in arranging golf tours to the home of golf.