Insider tales from a golf trip to Ireland
A golf trip to Ireland is a once-in-a-lifetime experience filled with little memories that stick forever. Here are some lasting impressions from my latest visit to the Emerald Isle:
* I loved the sticker in the window of the rental car with a giant arrow pointing to the left, reminding drivers to stay on that side of the road. I was truly spooked having to drive the Irish roads for three days with no passenger as navigator. Within the first 30 minutes, driving on the wrong side of the road on the wrong side of the car became second nature. And I never got lost. If you can’t afford a tour bus or coach, don’t let your fear of driving stop you from making this dream trip.
* If you schedule a parkland course on your journey, do it the first day of your trip or as a “transition day.” No matter how spectacular the parkland might be, it just can’t live up to those loveable links.
* The overnight flight over from New York to Shannon is a breeze. Five hours goes by quick. It’s the flight home that’s painful, even though clearing U.S. customs is an awesome luxury.
* The Irish are so friendly, it’s uncanny. An Irishman I met on the golf course was kind enough to go out of his way to guide me and my rental car to my next destination.
* A stunning heat wave that brought the sun and little wind blanketed Ireland for six straight days during my journey. One radio deejay talked about the weather as “the drought.” In America, we call that summer, not a drought. One gal told me it’s been the best summer in 20 years so far. Sounds like another good excuse to visit.
* The Old Head of Kinsale is not ranked among the world top 100, but I would argue that the course is one of the top 50 must-plays on the planet. It’s such a visual wonder. Old Head, Doonbeg and Tralee rank as the top three Irish golf courses for scenery. They’re all model gorgeous.
* Sometimes, losing golf clubs isn’t so bad. The rental set at Doonbeg were so good, I shot my best score of the week with them, an 83. The airline finally found my sticks three days later, teaching me a valuable lesson: To pack a pair of golf shoes, balls, glove and tees in my carry-on. The customer service in dealing with the fiasco was much more friendly in Shannon than I’m sure it would have been across the pond.
* Reading a Sports Illustrated on the plane over, I caught a joke about how bad the food is in Ireland. Not true (just don’t order a hamburger). It’s no longer just potatoes and sausage for supper. Any seafood meal is mouth-wateringly fresh and the delicious brown bread is to die for. Kinsale, the lovable seaside town near Old Head, lives up to its name as the gourmet capital of Ireland.
Visit www.discoverireland.com for more.
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