Look beyond links golf in Ireland ... golf across borders.
Golfers have been flocking to Ireland for decades playing the ‘bucket list’ trophy courses dotted along the extensive Irish coastline. Let there be no doubt, the Irish links courses are renowned for their beauty, challenging conditions, unique features and traditional welcome. But … there are over 400 golf courses in Ireland and many of those, not on some sort of bucket list, still merit a detour as this is how and where the locals play.
The one thing not many people are aware off is that the island is split by a border between Northern Ireland, which is the UK and charges Pounds and the Republic of Ireland where Euros is the currency. On the UK side of the border, one of the last course developments was the Lough Erne Resort in Co. Fermanagh. Sitting on its own peninsula surrounded by Lough Hume and the grander Lough Erne, the spectacular hotel and golf course is among the more luxurious places to stay and play. The golf course was designed by Sir Nick Faldo and is built to the highest specifications. This is a testing course with long holes, undulating fairways, deep bunkers, big sloped greens and water omnipresent. Stay in the luxury suites and eat local produce prepared by head chef Noel McNeen. The 5* resort can also serve as a base to play some of the links courses along the West coast of Ireland.
Move South of the border to Co. Cavan where the Slieve Russell Hotel & Golf welcomes you. This is an extensive property but managed to retain that real Irish family feel. The Slieve Russell offers plenty of golf with a full 18 hole and a more modest 9 hole practice courses plus and adventure putting course for the little ones. The parkland course is undoubtedly amongst the finest in Ireland and has hosted many national and regional championships, most recently the Irish PGA Masters. Always in great condition, it is a stern test of golf but still playable for the average golfer. There is diversity in the holes with gentle undulation to keep it interesting. The food, like most places in Ireland, is honest and abundant and the Guinness (can) flow freely in the cosy bar where on many a night, a ‘session’ will take place.
Both properties are well worth a visit and on many golf trips in Ireland you will come close to them anyway without noticing. Base yourself in either of them and venture out to the links courses on either side of the island as both are basically halfway between the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.