My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland

I love golf. I love watching it, talking about it and especially playing it. If you follow me regularly, you’ve noticed I’ve been playing a lot recently. Aside from loving the game, I was prepping for my golf trip to Ireland. I didn’t want to embarrass myself on some of the most esteemed courses in the world! I’m happy to report that I played pretty darn well and had a blast on my golf trip to Ireland. I covered a lot of ground on the trip so here’s a glimpse of the highlights from my golf trip to Ireland!

Carr Golf arranged the trip. Carr Golf is a first class golf tour operator based in Dublin. Carr Golf customizes golf trips around Ireland and the United Kingdom mainly but they also will organize trips anywhere in the world! Honestly, they were a dream to work with. I cannot say enough good things about their operation, people and of course their knowledge of Ireland. I highly recommend Carr Golf for any golf trip to Ireland or anywhere!

I landed in Dublin early last Sunday, met my group and we headed straight out to play Portmarnock Golf Club. Portmarnock is one of the top golf courses in all of Ireland. In fact, it’s rated #2!

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Portmarnock

Stunning greens scenery at Portmarnock Golf Club


The course itself was gorgeous. It is a links style course surrounded by water on all sides. Many of the games greats have played there including Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and more recently Rory McIlroy.

Playing golf directly after getting off an overnight transatlantic flight was a first for me. I was pretty exhausted but got a second wind after feeling the 40mph winds…and 4-5 coffees!

The whole round was kind of a blur to me but the wind was a major factor without question. I played pretty well (after a bad first few holes) including a 370-yard drive! The course was very firm so I got a little help with the run but nonetheless I crushed that drive and it made my day!

After playing Portmarnock, my group headed up to Newcastle, Northern Ireland to stay at the Slieve Donard Hotel and play Royal County Down Golf Club the following day. By the time we arrived at Slieve Donard, I was completely exhausted and fell asleep immediately following a fish and chips dinner! I slept 9 consecutive hours…that never happens!

I woke up fresh as a daisy Monday morning and walked over to play Royal County Down, which was recently named the best course in the world. In fact, Rory McIlroy called it his favorite course in the world. I have played a lot of great courses all over the world and I can confidently say Royal County Down is my favorite. It is simply spectacular.

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Royal County Down, Northern Ireland, Newcastle

Stunning greens at Royal County Down


The course features a lot of blind tee shots and there’s no room for error with thick rough. The views on some holes are breathtaking. The approach shot on the 9th is one of the prettiest shots in all of golf.
My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Royal County Down, Northern Ireland, Newcastle

The epic approach view on the 9th hole at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland


Royal County Down is challenging but fair. I shot pretty well overall but a few gentlemen’s triple bogeys cost me a great score! That said, I’d love to play there again anytime!

After golf, I got a massage at the spa at the Slieve Donard Hotel. It was just what the doctor ordered! At least I think so, as I fell asleep on the massage table! The hotel was fantastic with great rooms, breakfast and an excellent dinner menu. However, the best thing is it’s located right at Royal County Down so you just stroll over to the course!

Tuesday morning, we took our bus up to Portrush on the north coast to play Royal Portrush Golf Club. Royal Portrush is the only course outside of Great Britain to ever host the Open Championship (British Open) in 1951. It will again be the site in 2019 so a lot of changes are being made to the course in preparation.

The championship course is being rearranged in many ways. They are eliminating the 17th and 18th holes and replacing 18 with the current 16th hole. They’ve added two additional holes that will be ready to play next May. I saw them and they look fantastic including a 600+ yard par 5!

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland, Portrush

View of Giants Causeway from the 5th green at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland


Some of the views from Royal Portrush were truly incredible like this view from the 5th green looking at the white cliffs and the Giants Causeway-only a few miles away. It will really make for a great backdrop for the broadcasts in 2019!

I started out well on Royal Portrush with a flurry of pars. But then the rains came and they came heavy! The winds were over 50mph. Mixed with heavy rain, it became very difficult to play. One of the signature holes is the 14th known as Calamity Corner. It’s a 200+ yard par 3 on the edge of a cliff basically. The wind was so bad, I hit driver and still didn’t come close to the green.

This was the quintessential Irish links golf weather experience. Luckily, I was prepared and bought rain gear ahead of time. I still got drenched but it could’ve been much worse! So I didn’t score well at all on Royal Portrush but I had an amazing time and will always have those memories!

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland, Giants Causeway, World Heritage SIte

Lee Abbamonte on the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland


After a few Guinness’s at the 19th hole to dethaw, we headed up to the World Heritage Site, Giants Causeway. It’s a beautiful place to visit with great cliffs and incredible rock formations. It’s the top tourist site in Northern Ireland and well worth a visit.
My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland, Giants Causeway

Lovely view of the Giants Causeway as the sun starts to set


We stayed at the Bushmills Inn in Bushmills, not far from Portrush. It was a cozy, traditional place with great beds and a fantastic restaurant. One thing about this golf trip to Ireland was we ate and drank well! One night the bar had traditional Irish music and of course they feature Bushmills whiskey! The following morning we did a tour of the Bushmills distillery and obviously had some samples!

After the samples we shot out to Portstewart to play the Portstewart Golf Club. Portstewart has one of the prettiest opening holes I’ve ever seen and we had pretty good weather. We were owed the weather after the prior day!

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Portstewart

The first hole at Portstewart Golf Club


Portstewart is redoing several of their holes in advance of hosting the Irish Open, a key tune up for the British Open. I played pretty well on Portstewart including a 39 on the back 9. I really caught my stride on this course and it propelled me to play even better the next few days.

We left Bushmills very early to head down to Rosapenna to play the Rosapenna Golf Club. We would be returning to the Republic of Ireland. But first we stopped in Derry, also known as Londonderry. Derry was the epicenter of the troubles that hamstrung Northern Ireland for decades in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It was the site of the Bloody Sunday Massacre when British troops murdered Northern Irishmen on the orders of the Queen.

Derry really struck a chord with me because I remember seeing the violence on the news when I was a kid. But when you’re a kid you really don’t pay much attention to anything, especially when it’s far away. On previous trips to Northern Ireland I had only been in and around Belfast; which had it’s own issues as well.

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Derry, Northern Ireland

The walled city of Derry in Northern Ireland


Walking the walled city in Derry and seeing the peace bridge and the Guildhall where the British Prime Minister stood and apologized was surreal. It was great to have our Carr Golf driver as a guide to ask questions and point things out. I definitely recommend visiting Derry; it’s fascinating.

When we arrived at Rosapenna I was ready to play. I actually shot a 79; which was my best score since high school, as I don’t play often enough to be consistently good. However, I really had it going this day and could’ve probably shot par if I made a few more putts.

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Rosapenna, Ireland

The beach alongside the Rosapenna Old Links


Rosapenna was another gorgeous links course with beautiful dunes along gorgeous beaches. It was the easiest course we played because we had perfect weather and no wind. My caddy was saying that was unheard of but we weren’t complaining! It’s a lot easier to play golf without wind!

The adjacent Rosapenna Hotel was an excellent place to spend a night. The restaurant was fabulous, the bar was very elite Irish, and the beds were beyond comfortable in very spacious rooms.

We left at 7:30am Friday morning to drive to Enniscrone Golf Club. We went via Donegal to check that town out as well as a castle hotel called Lough Eske for coffee. Enniscrone was very cold when we arrived.

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Enniscrone

The 16th green at Enniscrone is simply spectacular


Enniscrone was another gorgeous links course that wasn’t that difficult. With the exception of holes 4-8, I played very well including a string of 8 straight pars from 9-16. Enniscrone was very quiet, serene and a great place to play golf.

Afterwards, we went to get seaweed baths. This wasn’t really my thing but if you saw my Snapchat account of it, it was pretty funny! Then it was onto Mount Falcon Estates for my last night in Ireland.

Mount Falcon was phenomenal and is probably my favorite place I’ve stayed in Ireland. We had a big group dinner with the CEO of Carr Golf and the hotel manager and had a grand time. Red wine, whiskey and port were flying around an incredible meal. I highly recommend the venison if you’re into game. I wish I could’ve stayed longer than a week but I had to catch my flight in Dublin.

My Epic Golf Trip to Ireland, Golf Trip to Ireland, Carr Golf, Mount Falcon Estates, dinner

Carr Golf group dinner at Mount Falcon Estates for a phenomenal meal!


So my golf trip to Ireland was a great success. It was honestly one of my favorite trips I’ve taken in years. I got to play world-renowned golf courses, stay at top hotels, eat in excellent restaurants and drink with great people. I thank Carr Golf for the opportunity and for hosting me. If you’re into golf, I really can’t recommend anything higher than a golf trip to Ireland.

Comments

  1. I played Royal Liverpool once and that was amazing. I’d love to get out there again and play some more Links golf. Amazing photos man!

  2. This is pretty much the dream trip for any male! Fun read and loved your social pics.

  3. A bit too gushing notwithstanding the splendour of Irish golf. Whatever about the golfing prowess of the author, he could brush up on his history. Bloody Sunday was a disaster but to suggest the victims were shot dead on the orders of the Queen is both ridiculous and hugely I’ll informed. Can’t see her playing the Ceaser role in Buckingham Palace.

  4. Love Ireland and it is people. Best club, cafe and bar culture. Friendly, welcoming people.

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