Memorable starting holes on an Ireland golf trip -Trump Doonbeg, Lahinch, Ballybunion Old Course, Royal County Down and Portstewart.
It may be due to the fact that you have just landed in Ireland at Shannon Airport and within a couple of hours your Irish golf vacation is underway as you stand on the first tee at Lahinch. Looks fairly straightforward as you prepare to drive to an elevated green well protected by deep bunkers short and a sharp bank to the right. Walk away with par here and it might just set the tone for a great week of golf in south west Ireland.
Not far south from Lahinch Golf Club is Trump Resort, Doonbeg which has recently undergone extensive remodelling by renowned golf course architect, Martin Hawtree. And when it comes to rating the best opening holes on an Ireland golf tour, they don't come much better than this. This par five demands accuracy from the tee and staying clear of the strategic fairway bunkering sets you up for an approach shot to a green set against the back drop of towering dunes.
Staying in the south west of Ireland, the opening hole on Ballybunion's Old course has haunted many a golfer. Not that it is by any means regarding as a daunting (perhaps haunting!) hole, compared with many others on the course. From an elevated tee box playing back towards the town of Ballybunion, let all slicers (right handed) be forewarned of the graveyard waiting to bury any erring drives. PJ the Old Course starter at Ballybunion, will do his best to set you right (or better again straight down the middle) - well you know what I mean!
Moving to golf in Northern Ireland, the great opening holes at Royal County Down and Portstewart are stand outs. Royal County Down opens with a terrific par five through a shallow valley. Dundrum Bay awaits the errant drive to the right and a high dune guards the left side. When the flag is positioned to the back of the green, the danger of the dreaded three putt looms large!
Portstewart, The Irish Open venue in 2017 has been described as the most stunning start in Irish golf. This dogleg downhill par four has been described as being unbeatable. Perhaps it is with this level of confidence that Derek, the starter/caddie master at Portstewart, offers to buy a pint for any visiting golfer who manages a birdie on this hole.
Well this is what he tells me, so make him pay on your next golf trip in Northern Ireland.