The 10 Best Golf Courses in Ireland

Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland (Private)
Northern Ireland’s most socially conscious golf club, and one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, is awash in doctors, lawyers, judges and industrialists, mainly from Belfast. There’s no waiting list, not that it matters: few members leave before death and membership is by invitation only.

2. Royal Portrush (Dunluce)

County Antrim, Portrush, Northern Ireland (Semi-private)
Royal Portrush hosted the first professional tournament in Ireland in 1895. In 1951, the course hosted the only Open Championship ever held in Ireland.

3. Ballybunion (Old)

Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland (Semi-private)
Located on the Shannon estuary, the Old course at Ballybunion is a seaside links with very few trees. The course is widely considered to be one of the greatest in the world and is a fixture on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World.

4. Portmarnock (Old)

Portmarnock, Ireland (Semi-private)
Curving along a stretch of coastline on the Howth peninsula just 12 miles from downtown Dublin, Portmarnock has played host to a dozen Irish Opens. The course has three nines — Yellow, Red and Blue, with the latter two combined to make up the Championship course.

5. Lahinch

Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland (Semi-private)
Started by Old Tom Morris in 1894, English designer Martin Hawtree gave the greens more size and slope, adding bunkers and reshaping fairways. The result is a remade masterpiece that will gladden the heart of 16-handicappers and Tour pros alike. (Phil Mickelson has called it his favorite links course.)

6. European Club

Wicklow, Ireland (Semi-private)
The course sits in massive sand dunes alongside the Irish Sea, about an hour south of downtown Dublin. The European Club has slender fairways, few blind shots and a collection of superb par 4s.

7. Waterville

Ring of Kerry, Ireland (Semi-private)

8. Old Head

Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland (Semi-private)
There’s value at Old Head past the vistas, and it comes from the people who make your day unique. As a visitor, you typically get a tee time and someone to point you toward the locker room. At Old Head you get the sense that you are not only about to do something very special, but that everyone is happy for you to be doing so.

9. Tralee

Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland (Semi-private)

10. Doonbeg

County Clare, Ireland (Resort)
Doonbeg debuted in 2002 to acclaim for its beauty and criticism for its difficulty. The owners widened some fairways, yanked out the odd bunker and removed plots of ball-swallowing rough (under protest from designer Greg Norman). The result is improved playability and a faster pace of play. It’s still a beast when the wind howls, but it’s a more fun experience.

Rory McIlroy determined not to end 2017 season winless

223809982-a5975caf-ba7b-497e-9487-3ffe5abb049f.jpgRORY McIlroy admits he hates the thought of ending his season without a win as he looks to make the first successful title defence of his career in Boston.

McIlroy won the Dell Technologies Championship – then known as the Deutsche Bank Championship – in 2012 and 2016, the latter victory providing him with the springboard to win the overall FedEx Cup title and USD 10million bonus.

The 28-year-old has also won several other events more than once but never in consecutive years and has four chances left in 2017 to avoid just his second full winless season since turning professional.

Speaking after a tie for 22nd in the US PGA Championship which completed a third successive year without a major title, McIlroy said he was in two minds about competing again this year due to an ongoing rib injury.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” McIlroy, who has played just 14 events this season, said after a closing 68 at Quail Hollow. “You might not see me until next year. You might see me in a couple of weeks’ time.”

After seeking the advice of sports scientist Steve McGregor in Northern Ireland, McIlroy was told he could not make the injury any worse and finished 34th in last week’s Northern Trust Open.

The four-time major winner will play the remaining three FedEx Cup play-off events – assuming he qualifies for the 30-man Tour Championship – and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with his father Gerry from October 5-8 before calling time on his season in a bid to get fully fit for the new campaign.

“I’d hate to think I’ll end this year without a win,” McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference at TPC Boston.

“I’ve got four tournaments left to hopefully make sure that doesn’t happen.

“It would just be nice to get a win before I shut it down for a while. I feel like I’m capable. It’s not as if I’m out there making it any worse. I feel like I can still go out there and compete and if you can do that, why not give it a go?

“Of the courses that we have coming up I definitely feel the most comfortable on this one so if I didn’t get myself into the mix it would definitely be a lost opportunity.”

While McIlroy has yet to win a tournament this season, world number one Dustin Johnson has won four times, most recently beating Open champion Jordan Spieth in a play-off on Sunday.

Johnson’s three other victories came in successive events before he suffered a back injury which forced him to withdraw from the Masters and the former US Open champion has refused to rule out another winning streak in the FedEx Cup play-offs.

“You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one, right?” Johnson told a pre-tournament press conference. “It’s definitely possible. Is it going to happen? I have no idea.

“I would love to say yeah I’m going to win all four but the odds are not in my favour. Winning last week is big because I think I am probably guaranteed to be in the top five (in the FedEx Cup standings) going into Atlanta, which is where you want to be because then if you win the tournament you win the FedEx Cup.

“That’s the biggest thing for me. This week is another big week because I want to play really well, I finally feel like I am swinging really well.”

Hoey leads Irish raiders in Viking Challenge

holey111By Brian Keogh

Michael Hoey carded a second successive 72 to trail leaders Daan Huizing and Clément Sordet by eight shots heading into the final round of the weather-reduced Viking Challenge in Norway.

The Belfast man is tied for 40th on level par, one shot better than Neil O’Briain (71-74) and Gavin Moynihan (73-72) with Gary Hurley (74-72) making the cut on the two-over par limit as Kevin Phelan (four-over), Chris Selfridge (six-over) and Stephen Grant (eight-over) all missed out.

Heavy showers had prevented the second round from being completed on Friday and after more rain overnight, the decision was taken to reduce the tournament to 54 holes.

Play did not start until 3pm local time, but when the second round got back under way it was Carlos del Moral who shone brightest at Miklagard Golf.

The Spaniard showed no signs of being affected by the delays, following three birdies over the front nine with four more gains over the back nine to sign for a 66.

The 31-year-old will start the final round two shots behind leaders Sordet and Huizing.

“I feel very comfortable on this type of golf course,” said del Moral, who is six under overall. “With the amount of rain we have had over the past three days the greens are rolling really nicely, and my putting was really good so I was able to take advantage of the conditions.

“Tee to green I didn’t play that well, I am working on changing my swing at the moment, but overall I am very pleased with my score.

“I hit a lot greens, not that close though, and that meant I had to be really good with my putter. Luckily it was really hot today, and I am so happy to have done so well in difficult conditions.

“It was actually not too bad for me today. I arrived at the course at six in the morning but when we heard that play had been suspended I went back to sleep for a couple of hours – so it was just like a normal day really.

“I need to work a little bit on my game tomorrow but I am feeling pretty confident. Hopefully, I can keep the putter hot as anything can happen over 18 holes.”

Also impressing were America’s Chase Koepka and Italy’s Aron Zemmer, who both shot 67 to move to five under par overall.

Scores after Round Two:

136 C Sordet (Fra) 70 66, D Huizing (Ned) 69 67,

138 J Doherty (Sco) 70 68, C Del Moral (Esp) 72 66,

139 R Enoch (Wal) 69 70, B Eccles (Aus) 71 68, A Zemmer (Ita) 72 67, T Pulkkanen (Fin) 70 69, C Koepka (USA) 72 67,

140 C Ford (Eng) 72 68, M Lundberg (Swe) 71 69, C Blomstrand (Swe) 72 68, A Wennstam (Swe) 72 68, N Johansson (Swe) 72 68,

141 K Samooja (Fin) 70 71, A Bernadet (Fra) 73 68, E Bertheussen (Nor) 70 71, T Tree (Eng) 71 70, T Murray (Eng) 69 72,

142 S Hutsby (Eng) 70 72, J Elson (Eng) 68 74, S Kim (USA) 67 75, S Piaget (Mon) 72 70, M Kinhult (Swe) 67 75, S Fernandez (Esp) 74 68, S Henry (Sco) 73 69, M Lampert (Ger) 73 69, R Kellett (Sco) 72 70, M Schwab (Aut) 74 68, J Heath (Eng) 71 71, B Poke (Den) 70 72,

143 M Madsen (Den) 71 72, A Saddier (Fra) 71 72, R Saxton (Ned) 72 71, V Riu (Fra) 69 74, T Lawrence (RSA) 68 75, R Evans (Eng) 70 73, B Hafthorsson (Isl) 73 70, M Ford (Eng) 74 69,

144 Michael Hoey (Nir) 72 72, J Dantorp (Swe) 74 70, R McEvoy (Eng) 74 70, P Howard (Eng) 73 71, B Evans (Eng) 70 74, T Linard (Fra) 74 70, M Laskey (Wal) 72 72, A Olsen (Nor) 73 71, J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 73 71,

145 B Hellgren (Swe) 70 75, R Green (Aus) 74 71, M Trappel (Aut) 71 74, Gavin Moynihan (Irl) 73 72, J McDonald (Sco) 72 73, M Ovesen (Den) 70 75, S Forsström (Swe) 69 76, M Cort (Eng) 73 72, E Goya (Arg) 73 72, A Altuntas (Tur) 77 68, Neil O’Briain (Irl) 71 74, 

146 J McLeary (Sco) 70 76, M Søgaard (Den) 74 72, A Bjornsson (Isl) 73 73, M Wiegele (Aut) 69 77, J Sarasti (Esp) 72 74, P Mejow (Ger) 74 72, L Vaisanen (Fin) 73 73, P Widegren (Swe) 74 72, V Maroy (Nor) 72 74, Gary Hurley (Irl) 74 72, N Geyger (Chi) 71 75,


147 J Pastor (Esp) 76 71, N Cullen (Aus) 75 72, H Rönneblad (Swe) 74 73, R Hjelm (Den) 73 74, R Davies (Wal) 73 74, J Van Der Vaart (Ned) 74 73, E Johansen (Nor) 73 74, N Von Dellingshausen (Ger) 73 74, D Berna Manzanares (Esp) 74 73, M Baldwin (Eng) 72 75, R Dinwiddie (Eng) 76 71, J Brun (Fra) 77 70, J Lando Casanova (Fra) 74 73,

148 M Schneider (Ger) 75 73, Kevin Phelan (Irl) 74 74, H Joannes (Bel) 73 75, A Maestroni (Ita) 73 75, K Johannessen (Nor) 73 75, R Echenique (Arg) 75 73, A Ellingsberg (Nor) 72 76, J Hansen (Den) 73 75, L Gerhardsen (Nor) 77 71, P Tarver-Jones (Eng) 76 72, J Sjöholm (Swe) 76 72, C Mivis (Bel) 74 74, D Foos (Ger) 73 75, J Arnoy (Nor) 77 71, R James (Wal) 72 76,

149 E Di Nitto (Ita) 78 71, F Maccario (Ita) 74 75, N Ravano (Ita) 79 70, R Santos (Por) 75 74, K Eriksson (Swe) 74 75, N Lindstrom (Swe) 79 70, G King (Eng) 77 72, C Braeunig (Ger) 75 74, J Guerrier (Fra) 75 74, O Stark (Swe) 74 75,

150 Chris Selfridge (Nir) 75 75, J Makitalo (Fin) 78 72, G Boyd (Eng) 74 76, C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 76 74, C Aronsen (Nor) 74 76, P Mikalsen (Nor) 76 74, J Allan (Eng) 74 76, E Dubois (Fra) 77 73, S Aadusaar (Est) 75 75,

151 F Bergamaschi (Ita) 77 74, J Kunzenbacher (Ger) 72 79, L Nemecz (Aut) 73 78, O Wilson (Eng) 77 74, C Griffiths (Eng) 75 76, K Johanson (am) (Nor) 72 79,

152 S Stavnar (Nor) 80 72, J Rutherford (Eng) 76 76, L Galliano (Sui) 78 74, W Besseling (Ned) 73 79, Stephen Grant (Irl) 77 75, O Lindell (Fin) 80 72, W Harrold (Eng) 74 78, M Eggenberger (Sui) 74 78, J Bower (Eng) 78 74, M Heien (Nor) 79 73,

153 M Ulseth (Nor) 76 77, S Jeppesen (Swe) 76 77, J Vecchi Fossa (Ita) 76 77, B Neil (Sco) 77 76, T Shadbolt (Eng) 80 73, M Braadlie (am) (Nor) 75 78,

154 O Loftsson (Isl) 79 75, S Einhaus (Ger) 76 78,

155 F Daux (Fra) 78 77, B Skogen (am) (Nor) 78 77, J Volden (am) (Nor) 82 73,

156 L Cianchetti (Ita) 77 79, G Pinto (Por) 80 76, R Charania (Ken) 79 77,

158 P Roos (Fin) 78 80, J Ramos (Por) 77 81, K Krokeide (am) (Nor) 82 76,

167 S Isik (Tur) 84 83,

173 J Johannessen (Nor) 91 82,

** R Kakko (Fin) 74 DQ, M Tullo (Chi) 76 DQ, P Maddy (Eng) 81 WD, M Pastor (Esp) 79 WD. f

(Reposted by Michael Brassil August 2017)

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