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Scottish and Irish Courses off the beaten track!

Scottish and Irish Courses off the beaten track!

Scottish and Irish Courses off the beaten track!

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 golfchats.com 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 love playing golf on both Scottish and Irish courses.  Links golf is something that appeals to my soul. Both of these countries have a rich history of golf and golf championships.  It is a dream of mine to one day visit both Scotland and Ireland, drive without planned destinations, and stop into golf courses unknown to me for a round.   Graham Hesketh of Golfwrx has done some of the legwork for me, but these are some gems in his list that I have already played.  

The European Club is one of the toughest golf courses you will find anywhere.

( and that is on a day when the wind does not blow.) I look forward to adding some of these courses to my journey one day in the future!

Everyone wants to play golf in Scotland and Ireland. Fact. Maybe this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or perhaps an annual pilgrimage. The bucket lists will be overflowing with your old courses, whether that’s at Portmarnock or St. Andrews! The Open Championship courses will roll off your tongue, including Portrush, back on the rota, and rightly so. There will even be the must-plays that very few can play, unless well connected, financially sound, or both.

I can understand why the usual suspects are always on the golf itinerary. And, by writing this, I don’t want to question their appeal, or their quality. But my argument lies in that in this day and age of travel and tourism, it is all about going off the beaten track, exploring, living a little, and not conforming. Some may argue my selections aren’t off the beaten track enough, but they’re there to debate!

It is with a great deal of smugness that I present to you 10 golf courses (11 if you include two at Moray) I have experienced — five in each country — where you can be assured of as Scottish and Irish golf experience as you richly deserve.

Carne Golf Links.

Scottish and Irish Courses off the beaten track!

Carne Golf Links was the last links course designed by architect Eddie Hackett.

Protruding deep into the Atlantic on the west of Ireland is Carne Golf Links. The village of Belmullet lies almost exactly 3,000 miles from New York City, and Carne idly inhabits an area that is low on population, but highly populated with dunes. Sand dunes of the highest order! Now offering 27 holes, you will think you are driving to New York, but just before tipping off the edge of Europe, the dunes come into view. They are something to behold.

Castlegregory.

Scottish and Irish Courses off the beaten track!
There is the possibility that Castlegregory will be expanded one day, but for now it remains a 9-hole gem.

Traveling farther down the West Coast and driving beyond the practice greens of Ballybunion, Lahinch and Tralee is Castlegregory on the Dingle Peninsula. Surely I am not recommending a 9-holer? I will grant you access to one of the usual suspects in the morning, but following a couple pints of Guinness while watching the boats bob up and down off the Inch Peninsula, it seems appealing to play nine more, doesn’t it? Castlegregory gifts dramatic views across to Tralee, the steep-sided Mount Brandon as a backdrop and a challenge that simply not enough people know about. But, that’s its charm.

The Wild Atlantic Way, the world’s longest defined coastal route, should send you in the direction of the Ring of Kerry. A beautiful stretch of road and home to Waterville and Dooks, but perhaps controversially we will head cross-country to County Wicklow on the Irish Sea.

The European Club.

Scottish and Irish Courses off the beaten track!

The European Club is one of the longest links at 7,377-yards from the tips.

Pat Ruddy designed The European Club. In fact, he is still designing the European Club. Heading out with his spray can, he will mark where bunkers need to be tweaked and changed before heading in again to talk to his golfers about Tiger’s course-record 67, how Padraig Harrington has his three majors thanks to the European and how Rory thinks it’s the best links he’s ever played. Oh yes, I forgot, you get 20 holes for your money and the world’s longest green.

Druids Glen.


Druids Glen hosted the Irish Open from 1996 to 1999.

Not too far away and inland is Druids Glen. Sometimes referred to by the over-used phrase of the “Augusta of Europe,” they may be right. This is as close as I have come to what I imagine Augusta to be like. Spectacularly manicured, fascinatingly interesting, wonderfully unexpected and a lot of fun. Monty has won twice at Druids, while Sergio won his first tour event here. It goes to show it’s not just about how pretty the golf course looks; it’s tricky, too.

To see the rest of these Scottish and Irish gems off the beaten path, go here!

Source: Graham Hesketh   Golfwrx

Pictures: Carne Golf Links   Castlegregory   The European Club  Druids Glen   North Berwick Glen

Thanks for reading – Scottish and Irish Courses off the beaten track!

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