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Scotland vs Ireland – Which would you choose to play?

Scotland vs. Ireland – Which would you choose to play?

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

I have played golf in Scotland and Ireland several times, and to be honest, I could not tell you which one I enjoy the most. 

Each country has its own charms, with Scotland having a great golf history and tradition, but Ireland having beautiful courses and friendly people.  I don’t think you can beat a round of golf at the Old Course in St. Andrews, but golfing at Ballybunion or Lahinch in Ireland is spectacular.  Let Blain Newnham from tell you his account of Scotland vs. Ireland.  It is not cut and dried!

Although we play year-round in the Pacific Northwest there are some days when it is better to stay inside and dream about golf, rather than try to play it. As much as I long for sun and warmth, my fantasy is always about returning to the British Isles, to play links golf where the game and its pursuit are random, unpredictable and adventuresome.




But where? Invariably – although a disservice to England and Wales – the discussion comes down to Scotland or Ireland. We’re more sophisticated about it all now with the advent of post-modern links golf in America at places like Bandon Dunes and Chambers Bay, and even inland with courses like Sand Hills, Erin Hills and Gamble Sands, spectacular if in out-of-the-way locales.

But no matter how wonderful our new courses might be, they don’t have Old Tom Morris looking over your shoulder, with a glass of single malt in hand.

My first trip to the British Isles to play golf was in 1991, although I had reported on the 1986 Open Championship at Turnberry, Scotland, and absolutely loved the possibility of returning.

Scotland vs Ireland – Which would you choose to play?

Scotland vs Ireland - Which would you choose to play?

Aerial View of Royal Dornoch











One member of my group – we were four guys who had golfed together since our college days at Berkeley and were now turning 50 – had played extensively in Scotland. I pushed for Ireland, and when we were finished he concluded that if you could live without playing the Old Course at St. Andrews, Ireland was better than Scotland.

In 1991, it wasn’t that difficult to get a tee time at Ballybunion. And green fees at a place like Royal Portrush were $35.

We landed in Dublin, squeezed into a rental car and took off for Portrush in Northern Ireland. From there it was an adventure around the entire island – Portrush, Royal County Down, Portmarnock, then across to Lahinch, Ballybunion, Waterville, Dooks and Killarney.

Spectacular. On a trip eight years later, we did the Atlantic Coast – Sligo, Donegal, Narin & Portnoo, the old course at Rosapenna, Portsalon, both courses at Ballyliffin, Enniscrone, Carne, Connemara and to cap it, a return trip to Lahinch.



A few years ago, I made one more trip to Ireland, this time concentrating on the Dublin area. We played Portmarnock again along with places like the Island Club near Portmarnock and Pat Ruddy’s European Club, and then north to Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, but also County Louth and Ardglass, both wonderful courses.

So, I’m an Ireland guy, right? Not so fast.

To read the rest of Blain Newnham’s interesting article, click here.


Pictures: Aidan Bradley

Thanks for reading – Scotland vs Ireland – Which would you choose to play?

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