The Irish Open – On The Move Again
In July of this year, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be stopping at Lahinch for the latest edition of this annual golfing event. This will be the first time that a golf club within County Clare in the southwest of Ireland has been given the honour of hosting this prestigious national competition.
The idea of moving the tournament around the country has been really successful, with Ballyliffin, Portstewart and Royal County Down all recent cases of host clubs that have showcased their courses as examples of the very best links layouts to be found in the country.
As part of a Tourism Ireland trip a few weeks ago, we were invited to sample the very best from Golf Ireland in the run up to this year’s Irish Open.
The visit for UK-based journalists involved three very different courses within the province of Munster, all of which are positioned at different levels within our rankings, but each offer the wonderful Irish welcome that is known the world over.
After a short hop from Heathrow to Shannon, it took only a few minutes to arrive at Shannon Golf Club – if anyone knows of a course located nearer to an airport then please let us know. The convenience of this club for either a first or last day game on a golf trip is clearly obvious.
There's a genuinely warm club atmosphere to be savoured at Shannon and it's well worth playing this mid-1960s Commander John Harris design, if only to tee it up at the stunning 17th – a par three hole at the edge of the estuary that wouldn't look out of place at Pebble Beach.
Accommodation for the two nights was in Limerick City at the luxury boutique Savoy Hotel, a comfortable choice in the middle of the city within easy walking distance of local attractions, such as the giant Ferris wheel which overlooks the River Shannon.
A night spent in an old Irish public bar, such as Nancy Blake's, is also a must. Here you’ll find a crackling open fire, traditional Irish music and Guinness freely flowing – all the ingredients for a memorable night in the city.
Golf on day two presented our group with what we all agreed was one of the best golf days any of us had ever experienced when we were hosted at the recently upgraded and extensively renovated Adare Manor – a true 5-star venue from start to finish.
The investment both on and off the course is palpable, offering top-level golf, exceptional fine dining, high-class accommodation and an out-of-this-world spa. The difference between the former Robert Trent Jones course and the renewed Tom Fazio design is like comparing night and day.
There are abounding rumours that the 2026 Ryder Cup is the ultimate target for J.P. McManus, Adare’s new owner. If Adare Manor does receive the nod from the organising committee then there's absolutely no doubt it will be a classy venue for the biennial golfing clash of titans from either side of the Atlantic.
Our final port of call on this whistle-stop trip was to play the 2019 Irish Open host course at Lahinch Golf Club, located an hour's drive north of Limerick. The club celebrated 125 years of golfing history last year, with the classic Old course having been touched down the years by esteemed golf architects such as Old Tom Morris, Alister MacKenzie and Martin Hawtree.
The Old course will certainly receive a lot of well-deserved love when the European Tour roll up in July and we sincerely hope that the 2019 DDF Irish Open, hosted by Paul McGinley, will be hugely successful.
It'll be fascinating to see how well this venerable old links – currently ranked #30 in our World Top 100 listings – will cope with the modern-day professionals, who rarely get to play competitive golf at the highest level on tracks like this one.
If you’ve not experienced golf on the Emerald Isle, what are you waiting for? We firmly believe Irish golf delivers everything expected of a world-class destination and more. There’s a good balance between links and inland layouts across the country, coupled with green fees to suit all budgets… and did we mention the craic?
Many thanks to all the organisers and to Tourism Ireland and The Azalea Group in particular.
Tourism Ireland: https://www.tourismireland.com/
The Azalea Group: https://theazaleagroup.com/
Golf in Ireland: www.ireland.com/golf
Dubai Duty Free Irish Open: www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com
Lahinch GC: www.lahinchgolf.com
Adare Manor: www.adaremanor.com/golf
Shannon GC: www.shannongolfclub.ie
The Savoy Hotel: www.savoylimerick.com
Nancy Blake's: https://www.limerick.ie/discover/eat-see-do/food-drink/pubs/nancy-blakes