Article repost from Vogue
If this year’s performances in the PGA have you itching to hit the links, take a swing at these courses from both sides of the pond. You might not make the pro cut, but you’re sure to earn big bragging rights on the 19th when talking recent rounds on any of these greens.
It’s hard to talk global golf without immediately thinking about hitting the classic links courses in Ireland. It’s the holy grail of golf, which is why there have been many a pilgrimage across the pond. One can easily make a month of it, as the hit list of courses is long.
Kick off your tour by heading to the southwest of Ireland to County Kerry, to the Old Course at Ballybunion. A traditional links course, dating back to 1893, the course’s ranking always ranges from number one in the world to top 20. Many golfers believe you haven’t really played the game until you’ve played the Old Course, where the challenges are nature-made, set against the Atlantic, amid the dunes. After an intrepid attempt, you can reflect on your hits and misses of the day by making a night of it at the nearby Sheen Falls Lodge on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Continue north and east to Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links, an evocative golf spot a mere 25 minutes from Dublin’s city center. The links course is set on the old Jameson Estate on the shoreline of a rugged peninsula overlooking the Irish Sea. The course, like the country and its people, is beautiful but tough. After a humbling game of golf, slip into the stunning Portmarnock Hotel. Their on-site An Sibin Pub is an old slice of whiskey history and their Jameson Bar offers a roaring fire and a buzzing bar.
Head a wee bit north to Royal County Down Golf Club’s Championship Links course. The picturesque setting is along the shores of Dundrum Bay in Northern Ireland’s Newcastle in County Down. The backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne add an inherent drama to the course. If you’re not straight and to the point here, good luck navigating the thin ribbon fairways, the bearded bunkers, and the beauty of the purple heather and golden gorse. The stunning Slieve Donard hotel is a pitch-perfect finish to a valiant round. Dip into the luxe pool and spa and take in the wall of windows showcasing the Irish Sea.
Continue north to Royal Portrush, one of the world’s top golf courses, in County Antrim. True to any links course, the landscape and fierce Irish elements enhance the difficulties of the course, from the roar of the Atlantic to the unimaginable rough. Mid-swing, be sure to take in the surfers and swells below and the Dunluce castle in the distance. Finish off with a run by Giant’s Causeway and make a night of it at The Bushmills Inn. The crackling fire, the traditional Irish music, and the rustic-chic ambiance of the restaurant and bar will have you longing for a day away from the green.
Here Comes the Sun
Golfers need to keep swinging, whatever the weather or season. That’s why you see many a pro taking up residence in Florida and serious golfers heading for the heat in Mexico and the Caribbean to get their game on when winter weather hits.
The Dominican Republic dominates with Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog at Caso de Campo Resort. Dye set the competitive tone in the region back in 1971 with an inspired course with several holes hugging the coral coast of the Caribbean. The resort is equally impressive with the 19th hole set in the sand and a spa concierge on site to arrange a massage, yoga, and a more holistic approach to the day and your game.
Jack Nicklaus’s Punta Espada Golf Course is one of more than 400 Nicklaus-designed courses worldwide. This Dominican course in Cap Cana has been highly sought after since 2007 and has been ranked the number one course in the Caribbean and Mexico by Golfweek magazine for eight years running. The cliffs, lagoons, and beach have been woven into the natural design of the course. No matter where you swing, you can catch a glimpse of the Caribbean. At night, pop in to Eden Roc at Cap Cana. Dine by day at the open-air Palapa, by night at the sexy Mediterraneo terrace, or take your sipping and swirling inside at Cava for Spanish and South American vintages.
Another red-hot region is Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas. The luxe Diamante, set on 1,500 acres along the Pacific coastline, is on everyone’s radar since Tiger Woods designed their second golf course, El Cardonal, which opened in 2014. No surprise, it’s a mindful course that calls for serious strategy with your swings yet rewards well with coastal views. Aside from golf there’s a private 1.5-mile beach complemented by six miles of hiking trails. Top off a hike and a rewarding round with a signature massage with local products, then finish with dinner at Izzy’s, which overlooks the course and the sea.
El Dorado is Baja at its best, with six oceanfront holes overlooking the Sea of Cortez. The remaining 12 holes are carved out of canyons. This Nicklaus-designed course in Cabo extends from the sea to the desert with cactus and trees dotted throughout. Postgame, switch gears by slipping into the nearby One & Only Palmilla resort for a health and wellness weekend. Hit the yoga garden, hot and cold rock pools in the tropical garden, and outdoor palapas for a massage. Or simply take up permanent residence in one of El Dorado’s 5,000-square-foot villas. It may cost you around $13 million, but imagine what it will do for your game.