David Brice, CEO of Golf International, reviews destinations on PGATOUR.COM that can be experienced by purchasing a package with Golf international, a leading provider of high-end international golf travel. For more information about this trip or any other of Golf International's destination trips, click here.
With the big event only a few weeks away, Ryder Cup fever is heating up, especially in Europe and nowhere more so than in Ireland. The Emerald Isle has been an active Ryder Cup participant, ever since the very first official Matches were played back in 1926 and the teams were a combined Great Britain & Ireland team versus the United States. Not until 1979 were the countries of Continental Europe included and the Britain & Ireland team became a true, Team Europe, drawing on all of Europe for the very best players. But Ireland has been there from the beginning.
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There are few other countries that can boast golf as practically the national sport. The game is seemingly played by the majority of the population, resulting in not only a country that has perhaps more than its fair share of top players, both professional and amateur, but also one of the most impressive collections of quality golf courses to be found on the globe. And all of these courses, from the most highly regarded links layouts to prestigious inland beauties, such as Ireland's own Ryder Cup Course, welcome visiting players with wide open arms and that heart-felt hospitality, unique to Ireland.
It's not coincidental that Ireland was only the second country outside of the USA and Britain to host the Ryder Cup, an honor bestowed upon it in 2006 when the magnificent K-Club, located just outside of Dublin was the selected venue.
Ireland's Ryder Cup ties have always been strong and never stronger than they are today with the 2012 event. Two Northern Ireland lads have each earned their way onto Team Europe as playing members - Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Team Captain, Jose Maria Olazabal has also looked to Ireland for two of his four Vice-Captains, choosing the well experienced, Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke to assist in these important, behind the scenes positions. Neither are strangers to the Ryder Cup and both have been on Team Europe more than once, including sharing the happiest home victory of all at Dublin's K-Club six short years ago.
There must be an Irish secret that enables this enchanting island and its population of little more than 5 million to produce a constant flow of Irish golf champions over the years. Whatever the secret might be, a large part of it can only be the Irish golf courses. No matter where on the Emerald Isle you travel, excellent golf courses will always be close by and without exception, they all have the welcome mat out for visitors, turning every round of golf into a wonderful Irish experience. This is what makes every Irish golf trip, a very special vacation, filled with fond memories. Reason enough to make Ireland your next golfing destination.
The only decision to be made is what part of Ireland and which courses do you want to play? The decision will not be easy, but the reassuring fact is that Ireland will never let you down and no matter which region you choose, there will always be excellent golf and around the coastal parts, many will be those world-famous links courses.
Head to the Southwest, basing yourself in Killarney, one of Ireland's liveliest market towns and you will be spoiled for golf choices. Among the handsome collection of prized Irish links layouts in the area are Ballybunion, Tralee and Waterville, together with an excellent choice of less well known gems. Take a couple of hour's drive northward, staying in Lahinch or the plush, five-star resort at Doonbeg and fantastic Doonbeg Links together with the classic links at Lahinch, will demand serious attention.
For another shade of green, discover Ireland's wonderful Northwest and the counties of Mayo, Sligo and Donegal, where the scenery takes on a more daunting look, the 21st century fades from sight and the Ireland of yesteryear thrives. Surprisingly, this is home to some of Ireland's most distinguished, though still undiscovered, links courses.
Any golfer fortunate enough to be visiting this very special corner of Ireland will have a long list of courses that must be played, which should include Carne, Enniscrone, Rosses Point, Donegal, Rosapenna and Ballyliffin, together with at least half a dozen more. These are Ireland's true hidden gems and the makings of a golf trip with memories to last a lifetime.
Combine Northwest Ireland with the British outpost of Northern Ireland and you will be adding more spice to an already zesty golf banquet, but you will also be including the two top ranked courses on the entire Emerald Isle, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush. As this one week trip expands into two, there will be a couple of available slots to fill with more golf and there are plenty of links to choose from. The logical choices will be Portstewart and Castlerock, both neighbors of Royal Portrush, together with the thoroughly delightful links at Ardglass, just a short drive from Royal County Down.
Another option and a wonderful golf combination is to play the best of Northern Ireland's links courses together with a choice selection of the links surrounding Dublin's fair city, where the girls are so pretty and the links courses are out of this world.
Topping Dublin's menu of links courses is Portmarnock, long ranked among Ireland's top three, closely followed by The European Club, Royal Dublin and County Louth - and this is still only scratching the surface of Dublin's impressive inventory of top quality golf.
If this has whetted your appetite, don't put off taking your Irish golf trip any longer -- there's no time like the present and for those who act sooner rather than later, there are some unbelievable Irish bargains to be found.
After literally years of seeing our US dollar get weaker and weaker against the Euro (the currency used in the Republic of Ireland) there have been some dramatic changes. For the past 6 months the greenback has been gaining strength by leaps and bounds and today is worth some 20% more against the Euro than it was last year. That's like getting a 20% reduction on the price of your Irish golf trip, plus a similar reduction on restaurants, pubs, local transportation, gifts and anything else you will be purchasing on your trip.
Only making a good thing for American travelers to Ireland, even better is the general economic situation in Europe. The last few years have not been good for international travel and hotels, car rental companies, even golf courses, have all suffered from the decline in international visitors.
Faced with the possibility of a similar situation next year, many Irish hotels and other service providers, are reducing rates to absolutely rock-bottom levels, in an effort to attract more business and they are beginning to see results. Problem is these emergency price reductions and special offers are unlikely to go on for too much longer, so take advantage of them while they last and booking now for 2013 is one sure way.
A good first step in arranging your Irish golf trip is to contact the Ireland experts at Golf International by calling toll free, 1 (800) 833-1389 or, click here.
©2012 David Brice / Golf International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Golf International -- Providers of quality golf travel arrangements since 1988.