Ireland on a Budget
By Peter Hellman
Classic GOLF Tours
I think most golfers agree that the economy and the weak dollar have put a crimp on travel plans. At Classic GOLF Tours, we find that the long planned trips to Scotland or Ireland is being put off to another year. We don't have a solution for personal economic problems. If you were caught up in the sub prime mortgage fiasco, for example, I can only wish you luck and encouragement to keep hitting 'em straight at your local club. But, for those of you who still have a job, a house, some funds put aside for travel and the need to do it now, there are ways to make that special golf trip happen. Here are some ideas.
You may not know that the dollar has in fact strengthened in some parts of the world. Take Argentina (one of my favorites), for example. The dollar is actually stronger today than it was last year. This means more golf for less money. Other destinations to consider are: Canada, Thailand, Turkey and South Africa.
Another idea is to travel to countries where golf is just developing. These places include Poland, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Vietnam and China. Even communists understand the economic value of our beloved bourgeois game and are joining the golf development movement. Prices in these countries are low due to low wages and government support of golf tourism.
But, if your golf interest tends to the less exotic, there are still some value golf itineraries for you. Let's take a look at Ireland. As a Euro based country, some trips to Ireland are 8% more expensive this year simply because of the weakening dollar. Add increases in green fees, credit card international conversion fees and accommodations and your trip today to some parts of Ireland will cost you at least 12% more than last year.
There are ways around this, however. One way, is to join our September 2008 trip to Ireland. (See the adjacent ad.) When we organized this trip last summer, the dollar was significantly stronger. Therefore, someone joining this trip has the benefit of paying last year's prices. Also consider that not only is your golf, accommodations and transportation pre-paid, so is your daily breakfasts, lunches, adult beverages and a couple of dinners.
But, if the September trip doesn't work for your schedule, there are still a few options for you in Ireland this year. The North and West Coast area of Ireland has some of the countries best golf, but unlike areas such as around Killarney (Southwest Ireland) and Dublin, green fees, accommodations and food are significantly less expensive. This lesser known area, much like the countries mentioned above, is trying hard to develop golf tourism and golfers are catching on to the quality of the courses.
For about the cost of the September 2008 group trip to Ireland, you can experience a similar trip with six fantastic courses. Your trip, designed for four golfers, starts in Shannon on the west coast of Ireland. The Shannon Airport has several flights arriving from the States every morning. After collecting your rental van, drive up to Galway along the coast. A stop at the Cliffs of Moher is a must. If golf the first day is your thing (I'm a true believer), do a warm-up round on the Bearna Golf Course. Located only 5 miles west of Galway, it's the perfect course to test your legs and swing after your long flight. The next day you're off to Clifden to play Connemara Championship Links. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains, this course is both awesome and picturesque. The following day, make your way to Belmullet to play Carne Golf Links. This Eddie Hackett designed course was redesigned by Colorado's own Jim Engh and was voted the 28th best in the world in 2005. The next day just gets better. Today, you play Enniscrone Golf Club. This is a place of rugged dunes, bracing winds, clear skies and one of Ireland's most beautiful beaches. Many of our clients called it their favorite. A short and pleasing drive to Rosses Point, your base for the next two days, will get you ready to play County Sligo Golf Club, a Harry Colt original and one of the oldest courses in Ireland and Donegal Golf Club, one of the longest in Europe and among the top 100 courses in Ireland and Great Britain according to Golf World magazine. From here enjoy the drive back to Shannon through some beautiful countryside. It's about 135 miles and you should have plenty of time to settle in to your airport hotel. But, don't miss a pint or two at the nearby famous Durty Nelly's Pub. It would be a fitting finish to a great and inexpensive golf trip.