Playing golf in Ireland is always a joy and now three of the country’s leading clubs have combined to offer exceptional value in these budget-conscious times. Faithlegg, Waterford Castle and the iconic Mount Juliet have pitched their 3 Club Golf Pass – which allows one round on each of the three championship courses – at just 123 Euros (about £113 at current rates).
There is a weekend rate supplement, which may differ per club, but the pass offers a significant saving and Gary Breen, of South East Tourism, said: “Our marketing of the pass is focused on areas of the UK where awareness already exists among many golfers of what is on offer in the superb golfing triangle created by Faithlegg, Mount Juliet and Waterford Castle.” So just what is on offer, how do you get there and where can you stay?
Well, getting there can be by any number of ways, but one of the easiest, especially if you want to take your own transport, is by Irish Ferries from Holyhead to Dublin, which involves some driving at either end but there are definite advantages with regard to clubs and luggage in your own transport while Irish Ferries offer a fast crossing on the Dublin Swift or the more leisurely Ulysses.
There are a host of fine hotels in the Waterford area including Dooley’s Hotel, which is well situated on the quayside, and Waterford has plenty of restaurants and bars such as the Munster Bar, while it’s well worth a visit out to Dunmore East of an evening for an excellent meal at The Spinnaker Bar and restaurant – try the fishcakes. It’s also well worth the drive down to the south to sample this trio of excellent courses especially at such a good price.
Faithlegg opened in May 1993 and was designed by renowned Irish golf architect Patrick Merrigan and boasts a superb setting in a 200-acre estate on the banks of the River Suir just four miles from Waterford. With mature trees and lakes, it’s an excellent parkland layout with a yardage of just over 6,600 yards off the blue tees and around 6,300 off the white with a par of 72, but distance is rarely the problem. Accuracy and a sure putting stroke are more essential on the fast, contoured greens, a Merrigan trademark.
There’s a gentle opening for holes – you could drive the first if you have a long draw in the locker, but five to eight will test you as will the finishing holes 16, 17 and 18 with Faithlegg House Hotel as a backdrop. It’s also worth taking time to check out the view at 13 and 14. Seventeen is stroke one and it’s a bit of a terror with water near the green as is 18. Easy to see why they held Ladies Irish Open here in 2000 and 2001 and had visits from the PGA Europro Tour in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Waterford Castle is a unique island golf course surrounded by the River Suir and accessed by ferry. Designed by Des Smyth, former Ryder Cup player, and opened in 1992, the 18-hole, par 72 is hugely popular. It meanders through mature woodland and parkland and can be long as it is 6,814 yards off the medal tees but is more manageable off the yellows.
Water features on the second, third, fourth and 16th holes and that second and third are real crackers – the short third is called Drake’s Pond with the tee shot over the lake and the drive at the third is a real knee knocker – the hole is only 372 yards but the tee shot is over water and through a narrow gap.
The 16th is a beauty – well named Des’s Favourite – a tee shot from an elevated tee to a flag 180 plus yards away with the river nearby…not for the faint-hearted and a great hole.
Mount Juliet was created by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1991 and has played host to some of the world’s top golfers including Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke.
Near Thomastown, Mount Juliet is set in a 1,500-acre country estate which also includes a stud farm. The Nore and the Kings River which run through the property, offer fine salmon and trout fishing. It’s about 35 miles north of Waterford, but it well worth the trip.
The par-72 hosted the Irish Open for three years and measures from 5,554 to 7,112 yards, but is much more manageable from the white tees at 6,683 and the greens at 6,286. Water comes into play on nine holes and the long par-4 2nd is a beauty with a drive over water and there are a couple of really testing par 5s on the front nine, but drive well and Mount Juliet will reward you.
There’s another cracking par 5 at 10 and the next is a great par 3 over water and there are a lot of long approach shots on the back nine, especially at the dogleg 12th and 13th with a green behind a small lake – a great hole this – and there are two fine finishing holes separated by another lake.
The 17th has the water on the left with some massive trees down the right and a sloping green that will test your putting and on 18 the tee shot needs to be long and down the middle while the approach must also be accurate with water on the left.
If you get the chance check out the massive putting course and even the practice ground is worth visiting.
For more information or to book the Three Club golf pass go to discoverireland.com/golf
Play, stay and socialise
Faithlegg Golf Club, Faithlegg, Co Waterford. Tel: +353 51 38200
Web: faithlegg.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Waterford Castle Golf Club, The Island, Waterford. Tel +353 51 871633
Web: waterfordcastle.com. Email: email@example.com
Mount Juliet Golf Club, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. Tel: +353 56 777 3000
Web: mountjuliet.ie. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dooley’s Hotel, The Quay, Waterford City. Tel: +353 51 873531 dooleys-hotel.ie
The Spinnaker Bar, Dunmore East. Tel: +353 51 383133
The Munster Bar, Bailey’s New Street, Waterford City. Tel: +353 51 874 656
discoverireland.com/golf – Three Club Golf Pass €123 (about £113 at the current rate).
irishferries.com. Coach travel: Matthews Coaches. Tel: +353 42 9378188