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Links, wonderful links, all of the above, but we must


marvellous parkland courses.


Open winner Darren Clarke. Need we say more? On the Eastern seaboard stands Portmarnock (Old), former


home of the Irish Open where Seve Ballesteros (RIP), Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, and Greg Norman paraded their sublime talent. A few miles away The Royal Dublin, laden with tradition and whose fairways have been graced by generations of greats, always has the welcome mat out for domestic and visiting golfers. Further South is Ballybunion, beloved of Tom Watson whose


connection with the Kerry links was so strong that he accepted the honour of being the club’s Centenary Captain in 2000. And if we’re talking legends of the game, take a bow Arnold Palmer who produced a marvellous design to make the links at Tralee a ‘must visit’ experience. Doonbeg, designed by Greg Norman, opened in 2002, but looks as if it has been in existence for a hundred years. Lahinch, near-neighbours of Doonbeg, has the century-plus tradition but the two together present a five star international golfing profile for County Clare. Links, wonderful links, all of the above, but we must also


bow the knee in homage to our marvellous parkland courses. Arnold Palmer’s work at The K Club received the ultimate


accolade by the staging of the 2006 Ryder Cup. Between the Cup and the many European Opens played at the County Kildare resort, the Straffan resort has a proven track record for challenging yet enjoyable play in elegant tree-lined surroundings. Mount Juliet, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is another beautifully crafted layout. It’s very fair, but accommodates the hacker and low-handicap golfer by offering


also bow the knee in homage to our


Left Page top: Adare Manor. Left Page bottom: Druids Glen. Centre: Tralee Above top: Ballybunion. Above lower: Portmarnock


classic risk-reward options on practically every hole. Druids Glen in County Wicklow is another product of the 90s


that staged four successive Irish Open championships, the first of them soon after it opened. Always a joy to play there. Adare Manor Golf Resort is simply awesome. Yet another


Irish Open course, and one which arguably has to be in anyone’s top-5 Irish parkland layouts. Killeen Castle, at Dunsany, County Meath, caused a stir back in 2006 by being awarded the 2011 Solheim Cup before it was open for play to members and visitors but there was no need to panic. Once Killeen Castle, another Nicklaus design, opened its doors it received overwhelmingly positive reviews from all levels of golfer, male and female alike, especially from the Europe and USA teams who contested the recent Solheim Cup. And now, time to choose one course to play for the rest of my


life. Ah, but look: God has dozed off. Have to admit His snores are inevitably more musical than the splutter-splart-shnookkk blocked-sinus grindings of we mere mortals, but there it is...He is away in dreamland. Surely He won’t notice if I tip-toe out of the room, pack the clubs in the boot of the car and get off on my travels? As the slogan says: ‘Time to play’ and I’m going to pack in as many jaunts to these great courses as I can before the Big Guy cops on to where I am.


For more information on these and other great courses in Ireland, visit: www.discoverireland.ie/golf (within Ireland), www. discoverireland.com/golf (outside Ireland).


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