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Golf: Green Gold in Ireland by Katharine Dyson

One of the best ways to visit Ireland's “emerald isle” is by car. It’s easy once you get the hang of driving on the left side and negotiating the round-abouts. Since the country is just 300 miles long and 150 miles wide, the cities and countryside of Ireland are extremely accessible. You can spend the morning teeing up at one of the country's great links courses and still have time to explore historic treasures like the sprawling Trim Castle or take in "Riverdance" in Dublin. Our self-drive tour took us in and around Dublin from Castle Killeen to the K Club, south to the European Club then back up north to Portmarnock close to the airport. e first three days were spent getting to know Castle Killeen, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course on the spectacular grounds of an 800 year old castle. e castle is currently being converted to a five star luxury hotel opening next year in time for the 21st Solheim Cup. I was there for a preview of the course and the Ladies Irish Open where I played a knee-knocking round in the Pro Am with Laura Davies who lived up to her reputation for hitting the ball a ton. An interesting combo of links meets parkland Killeen Castle features thick grasses, slick subtle greens and tough bunkers, so tough, I watched Lisa Maguire, one of Ireland's 15 year old wonder pros, take two to get out of a deep bunker on the first day of the Open. e imposing grey castle with its turrets and crenellated towers is hardly ever out of sight and water comes into play on several holes including the par 3 hole #16 where you are hitting over a pond all the way. www.castlekilleen.com

Next year you can stay at the Castle or you can check into a more reasonable place like the Clarion Hotel in Dublin. For luxury –in-city digs, the historic Shelbourne Dublin Hotel is the place to be. Dine in the Saddle Room Restaurant then head to Mulligans Pub on Poolbeg Street for a night cap. (www.mulliganspubandrestaurant.com)

Driving south to e Kildare Hotel & Country Club — the K Club — where the 2006 Ryder Cup took place, the grand hotel sits in the middle of everything while the Palmer Course where the Ryder Club took place and the adjacent Smurfit Course are just out the door. Well manicured and lush with lots of water, rolling landscape, trees and flowers,, this pair of courses is more like what we expect from a high-end American track. Green fees are likewise high: for walk-ons about $380 (Palmer) and $240 (Smurfit). Stay in the K Club and you'll pay half that. www.kclub.ie For a change of pace, head southeast to the coast and Brittas Bay to e European Club. All the balls I had still rolling around in my bag after playing two relatively manicured tracks, found new homes in the grasses, dunes, and sand at this wild and wonderful links track. e realized dream of a true Irish character, collector of golf books, publisher, golf writer, architect for 36 courses and author, Pat Ruddy, e European Club is highly memorable. It has two extra par 3 holes for starters, #7A and #12A. Or as Ruddy put it with a gleam in his eye, "I love golf. Why not?" Hole number 12 runs 125 yards from front to back; there are 101 really testy bunkers, many shored up with rail ties. But what can you expect from a guy who says, "Bunkers are hazards. ey are not meant to be pleasure beaches." And you gotta know, a man who says, "You don't add yardage, you add fear," is bound to have plenty of surprises up his sleeve. is is a friendly place and a hands-on family operation with his daughter, Sidon, there to greet you and organize things. (www.theeuropeanclub.com) Stay nearby at the 92-room Arklow Bay Spa Hotel for under $100 per night where you get a pool, fitness center and really comfortable rooms (www.arklowbay.com) or for a full service luxury option with an elegant spa and 36 holes of golf, try the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt farther

54 | New England Golf Monthly | September - October 2010

New England Golf Monthly - September/October 2010  

Fall Golf in New England, Home on the Course-The Landings, The Deutsche Bank Championship, Golf Real Estate, Virual Golf in New England, Mus...

New England Golf Monthly - September/October 2010  

Fall Golf in New England, Home on the Course-The Landings, The Deutsche Bank Championship, Golf Real Estate, Virual Golf in New England, Mus...

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