Ireland's oldest golf course dates back to 1881, and with more than 330 quality layouts, Ireland is second only to Scotland in the amount of golf it can offer per square mile.
Golfers the world over who are "in the know" have long sung the praises of Irish golf. Tom Watson, winner of five British Opens, lists as his favorite Ballybunion, as does the legendary writer Herbert Warren Wind, who, from an American standpoint, is credited with putting Irish golf on the map.
So what makes Irish golf great? Architecture, perhaps the essence of a golfing experience, is one appropriate place to begin. Connoisseurs of golf in America hold such courses as Cypress Point and Pebble Beach in the highest regard because their designers used the spectacular lay of the land to create a beautiful, challenging, but fair layout. In Ireland, however, there are many such courses. Of the estimated 150 top-quality links courses in the world, 39 of them are in Ireland. Most of the leading courses in Ireland were designed by celebrated British architects, such as Tom Morris, James Braid, Harry Colt, and Alistair Mackenzie, who happened to have as their raw material a spectacular landscape: Ireland is one of those remarkable places where mountains and sea meet, so there is no need to manipulate the land. Nature, the scraggly coast of a links or rolling hills of heather dominate the courses here, not the other way around.
But the best part of Irish golf is what perhaps makes it most different from golf anywhere else: simplicity. The game is remarkably unspoiled. Play and enjoy.
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