Ireland’s Boyne Valley Golf Passport
Post from golf writer and golf blogger Kevin Markham.
A passport may be your best route to golfing in Ireland. And we’re not talking about your travel passport either. These are golf passports, offering package style deals to three or four courses in a particular region at a fixed price. The passport promises a hefty discount on the individual green fees, which means it is an excellent option for golfers looking for a simple and quick DIY package.
They’re available all around the country, and throughout the year and they typically combine one marquee course with two/three strong supporting acts.
The latest passport to tempt golfers is known as the Boyne Valley. Not only does it combine three links courses on Ireland’s east coast, it also includes two nights’ B&B accommodation at the City North Hotel. It is 20 minutes north of Dublin Airport and perfectly situated for the three golf courses. But the package gets better: transfers to/from Dublin Airport and to/from the golf courses are included in the price… if you need them.
Prices start from €239 per person and the only restrictions are tee time availability. Weekends, as you can imagine, will be busy.
The three courses are Co. Louth, where Shane Lowry won the Irish Open in 2009, Seapoint, literally next door, and Laytown & Bettystown, a shorter, dynamic links with an intriguing 18th hole. All three are renowned for their hospitality.
Co. Louth Golf Club (1892) is the marquee course, appearing in numerous top 100 rankings. The current design belongs to the revered Tom Simpson. Laid out in two loops of nine it measures 6,700 yards (par 72) from the medal tees. The course starts inland with low, dune-fuelled holes moving in every direction. It’s a common theme, allowing the wind to hit you from every side and making demands of a short game that is the key to unlocking Co. Louth. The par threes are particularly testing, with big fall-offs and slick greens (for which the course is renowned), but Co. Louth comes into its own on the back nine as the dunes steepen and holes glide in between. A natural course – also known as Baltray – it will challenge and entertain every level of golfer.
Seapoint (1993) has a final run of holes that uses the same dunes as Co. Louth. Indeed, Seapoint’s 16th tee backs onto Co. Louth’s 14th. They are so close together that there is a story of how a group of Chinese golfers started at Co. Louth’s 1st and walked off Seapoint’s 18th. You’re unlikely to suffer the same indignity (a bit of climbing would be required) but, despite the same stretch of glorious coastline, you will discover a different golf experience. With its flatter, generous fairways it is that much more accessible.
Designed by Des Smyth, this par 72 measures 6,700 yards from the whites. The course combines links and parkland, with the opening nine holes playing away from the sea over gorse-strewn and water-drenched terrain. The back nine offer the thrilling challenges of links golf and it is here that you’ll enjoy the best mountain and sea views. Holes 16 to 18 tumble straight towards the clubhouse through the deepest dunes.
Laytown & Bettystown (1909) lies to the south. It is a par 71 measuring just 6,200 yards. It falls into a more traditional links rhythm, with nine holes out – mostly next to the sea – and nine holes back. The prevailing wind will make the inward journey a challenging one as there is less protection, so keeping the ball low will prove invaluable. The front nine are a different matter, where the humps and hollows of the dunes create intrigue and danger, especially around the greens. There are blind shots, too, but as you rise and fall you always feel you’re in with a chance. That’s the beauty of shorter courses. The 18th hole is a dramatic par five, with a blind drive and a blind approach, thanks to the dunes – intriguing for its quirkiness and a nice end to a rewarding round of golf.
For more information or to book your trip, contact: http://www.citynorthhotel.com or call Tel: +353 1690 6666
Kevin Markham is an Irish golf writer, blogger and photographer who writes for a number of Irish and UK golf websites & magazines. His book 'Hooked: An Amateur's Guide to the Golf Courses of Ireland' was published in 2011 and reviews all 350 golf courses which he played whilst travelling round Ireland in a campervan.
To read his blog visit: www.theirishgolfblog.com