Ireland rolls out the welcome mat for The Solheim Cup

April 13, 2011
David Brice, Golf International, Inc.

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.

Last year's big golf event took place in Wales, when the gallant guys of the US team were narrowly beaten by an inspired Team Europe, in the biennial, Ryder Cup Matches. This September, ladies professional golf steps into the spotlight, giving our US ladies an opportunity to not only retain their current championship title, but also obtain some retribution for The Ryder Cup guys, as they take on the very best of the European lady players in the 2011 Solheim Cup.

Ireland's Killeen Castle Golf Club hosts the 2011 Solheim Cup.jpg
Ireland's Killeen Castle Golf Club hosts The 2011 Solheim Cup.
Proud winners in 2009, Team USA will be fighting hard to keep their trophy in September.jpg
Proud winners in 2009, Team USA will be fighting hard to keep their trophy in September.
Killeen Castle has already hosted the Ladies Irish Open - next it's The Solheim Cup.jpg
Killeen Castle has already hosted the Ladies Irish Open - next it's the Solheim Cup.
Tough by any standard, our US ladies will have their work cut out if they are to be victorious.jpg
Tough by any standard, our US ladies will have their work cut out if they are to be victorious.
The Solheim Cup - coming in September.jpg
The Solheim Cup -- coming in September.
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Host for this thriller of an international team tournament will be Ireland and the stunning, Killeen Castle Golf Club, located in County Meath, just a few miles outside of the fair city of Dublin. After its extremely successful hosting of the 2006 Ryder Cup Matches held at another Dublin area course -- The K-Club -- Ireland, legendary Irish hospitality and one of the world's most impressive collections of quality golf courses, will once again be deservedly showcased in front of a global audience.

For American supporters, whether fortunate enough to be experiencing The Solheim Cup in person, or watching it from the comfort of home on television, it will be an opportunity to witness an event that has evolved into the most important in women's golf. The level of excitement and national pride, together with thrills and spills aplenty, is guaranteed to be at least the equal of everything the men provide.

For those who will be there, it will be a chance to savor a truly Irish flavored experience, with the unique excitement and friendly enthusiasm only a largely Irish audience can generate. But with the strong ties between Ireland and ourselves, Americans will feel right at home, as there are likely to be as many cheers for the US team coming from the Irish spectators as there are for the Europeans.

Attending golfers should be sure to take golf clubs along on the trip as the temptation to play at least a few of the Dublin area's outstanding array of world-class courses, will be too much to resist. From top ranked seaside links such as Portmarnock, The European Club, Royal Dublin and County Louth, to many more excellent courses with names less familiar. For the real golf aficionado, the Emerald Isle's number one course, Royal County Down, is readily accessible and can easily be played on a day excursion from Dublin.

The Solheim Cup is also going to provide the world with an up close and very personal look at one of the newest additions to Ireland's diverse collection of top drawer courses - the venue for the tournament, Killeen Castle Golf Club.

With one of Ireland's finest 12th century Norman Castles, the ancestral home to the Earls of Fingal, as the center-piece, the golf course is a touch of pure design artistry from Jack Nicklaus, sitting just 45 minutes drive from the heart of Dublin. Nicklaus is no stranger to Irish golf and the feeling of golf's local intelligencia is that Killeen Castle exceeds even his previous and highly acclaimed Irish design, Mount Juliet.

For the overly macho big hitters, the monstrous 7,600 yards from the championship tees, all laid out over an expansive 350 acres, may seem a temptation, but fortunately, a considerate Nicklaus offers 4 different tee positions, reducing an already challenging layout to more human dimensions, but still be prepared for a stern test.

Immaculately maintained with a maturity that belies its April 2009 opening, Killeen Castle has already hosted the 2010 Ladies Irish Open and will do so again in both 2011 and 2012. The layout sky-rocketed onto Golf Digest's, 2010 Top 100 Ireland Course rankings in an unbelievably high, 14th position, evidently being forgiven the previously mandatory, decade-plus long waiting period for such recognition.

Northern Ireland's US Open champion, Graeme McDowell has been frequenting the course on occasion for pre-tournament practice and Annika Sorenstam, a non-playing Vice-Captain of Europe's 2011 Solheim Cup team, has visited, lavishing praise on Ireland's youngest championship layout.

Very special tournaments require an equally special platform to bring out the best in the event and its participants and Killeen Castle is exactly the right stage for the 12th playing of The Solheim Cup this year. This is a course capable of offering the supreme test where only the very best will survive. Be there and witness golf history in the making.

If you are not among the lucky ones to be there and have to settle for the television coverage, pay particular attention to the course and all the challenges, some subtle, others more obvious, it offers. This is a course destined for even greater future glories and one that is more than likely to be on your list of must plays when you eventually take that long overdue, golf trip to Ireland.

Ireland and especially Dublin is certainly a dream come true for golfers, but this vibrant and thoroughly fascinating city and its surroundings are not their sole domain, offering a wealth of attractions for all, whether golfers or not. So don't limit your visit to only golf and take the entire family along, it will cost far less than you think and you'll be in for a travel experience like few others. After all, this is Ireland, where the welcome mat is always out for every visitor.

For more ideas and suggestions on how to get the very most out of any Irish travel experience, contact the Ireland experts at Golf International by calling toll free, 1 (800) 833-1389, or click here.

©2011 David Brice / Golf International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Golf International -- Providers of quality golf travel arrangements since 1988.