In Nike’s new Tiger Woods ad, “Welcome Back,” Woods’ long-time sponsor strings together a few of the seminal moments in the 14-time major champion’s career (starting with his appearance on The Dick Cavett Show as a tot, of course).
Exploring Ireland: Where to golf, drink and stay on the Emerald Isle. Pt. 3. Spanish Point Golf Club, Clare
In these series of articles, I will be taking you around the Emerald Isle providing you with great golf courses to visit in some of the loveliest spots in Ireland. I’ll also be highlighting the best and most authentic Irish bars in these spots, as well as places to stay, eat and how to get there. Whether you’re taking a golfing holiday to Ireland in 2019 or are interested in doing so sometime in the future, I’ll make sure to let you in on the best places to spend your time.
In Part Two of our Exploring Ireland Series, we focused on the north-west of the island, taking the trip to County Donegal and showcasing the Old Tom Morris Links. Now it’s time for Part Three, and we’re staying along the “Wild Atlantic Way,” and heading down along the coast and into County Clare.
Clare is easily one of the top destinations in Ireland. The county is home to some of the best scenery in the country, with one particular natural wonder drawing well over a million visitors each year. Along with its incredible sights, the county is of course home to some of the top golf courses on the island and is a contender for the best destination in Ireland for traditional music, with a multitude of bars hosting live music sessions each night of the week.
Spanish Point Golf Club, Clare
While Trump Doonbeg and the host of next year’s Irish Open, Lahinch Golf Club, often grab all of the headlines for courses in Clare, they aren’t the only options. Diverting away from those well-known spots, my recommendation for a day out on the links in this area is at Spanish Point Golf Club.
Spanish Point is a real hidden gem out west. The track is a nine-hole course that took the title this year for “Best 9 Hole Course in Munster.” The course opened in 1896, and sits right on top of the Spanish Point beach, offering spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.
The course itself plays for 18 holes as a par 68 and stretches over 5,000 yards. The course is mostly flat and exposed to the elements, and being right on top of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s an extremely high chance that should you tee it up here then every single facet of your game is going to get tested. Don’t be surprised that if the wind howls you find nine holes more than enough!
The star of Spanish Point is its greens. Wonderfully maintained, vast, and protected by deep classic links-style bunkers, these greens are a joy to putt on. So if you’re not rolling the ball well, it’s more than likely all on you!
Regardless of how you’re playing though, the greens of Spanish Point are a perfect viewing point to take in the breathtaking views on offer.
Eighteen holes around Spanish Point will set you back just over $20 during the week, and a little over $25 on the weekend. Which, in my opinion, is an absolute steal.
Food & Drink – Gus O’Connor’s Pub, Doolin
Just like it was difficult to choose only one golf course to showcase in Clare, separating the pubs is not an easy task either. A 30-minute drive from Spanish Point may sound a little inconvenient, but when you get to the small village of Doolin, then you will be thankful that you took the time to get to this little haven.
A small village just north of Spanish Point, Doolin boasts three of the best bars in the county, a “triple-crown” of bars if you will. McGann’s and McDermott’s are definitely worth a visit, but Gus O’Connor’s is an absolute must to while away an evening out west.
Open since 1832, Gus O’Connor’s will provide you with an incredibly atmospheric evening. The bar looks tiny from the outside, but there is plenty of room inside. One word of warning, however, is that should you wish to spend a night out here then arrive early, as it fills up fast.
Live music is Doolin’s game, and at Gus O’Connor’s you will find it every night of the week. Sessions begin at 9 pm each evening and go on until late. Some of the best musicians in Ireland play here, and you can expect to hear the great sounds of fiddles, flutes, violins, guitars and bodhrans playing throughout the night.
A few years ago, locals at Gus O’Connor’s were even lucky enough to hear actor John C. Reilly belt out Ireland’s greatest drinking song “The Wild Rover.”
Gus O’Connor’s also serves up a full menu of typical Irish traditional food. Here you will have the perfect opportunity to sample the Irish Classic, Beef and Guinness Stew, which of course needs to be washed down with a pint of the black stuff. Another option worth considering is the Doolin mussels steamed in white wine.
Where To Stay
If you wish to stay in Doolin, then you’ll have plenty of great little hotels and lodges to choose from, with the price of a double room usually ranging from $65-$100 a night. My recommendation is the Doolin View B&B, which is within walking distance of all the bars. For around $85 you’ll get a lovely double room, with a full Irish breakfast included for the next morning to keep you going for the day.
A 15-minute drive from the village of Doolin will take you to that natural wonder I referenced earlier. The Cliffs of Moher are arguably the finest attraction on the entire island. The sea cliffs run for 14 kilometres, and at their highest point, they rise 702 feet above the Atlantic ocean. As impressive as the cliffs are in photographs, to experience them in person is a special event and something that you simply must take the time to do if you’re in Clare.
Another great option if you’re in this area is to take the ferry for a day trip to the Aran Islands. Home to 1,200 people whose primary language is Irish. Don’t worry though; they also speak English. The Bronze and Iron Age forts are there to be explored on the island, and the best way to do so is by hiring a bicycle, as the speed limit for cars is 31mph on all roads on the island.
How To Get There
The area is a three-hour drive from Dublin, but just one hour away from Doolin is one of Ireland’s three international airports, Shannon, which provides you with a great location to explore the west coast.
Tweets of the Week: Rose’s near miss, Rickie’s birthday, a celebration fail, and more
Poom Saksansin claimed the Indonesian Masters, David Lipsky triumphed in South Africa, while Davis Love III and his son won the PNC Father-Son Challenge. But those weren’t the only talking points over the last week in the golfing world. Here’s a look at some things you may have missed, and some of the quirkier moments from the world of golf dished out in the Twittersphere.
Justin Rose threw away the opportunity to end 2018 as the World Number One on Sunday in Indonesia. The Englishman needed to finish just one stroke better off than he did, and I think it’s fair to say that Rose left the odd shot out there in his final round…
Wow! Never see Justin Rose do that! Completely messed up the par-5 12th hole. Duffed chip, horrendous first putt from the fringe, and then a four-putt from there for a triple bogey. Drops down to T28 place. @asiantourgolf #IM2018
— Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf) December 16, 2018
…leaving Brooks Koepka as the year-end World Number One. Another goal accomplished for the American who earlier in the week displayed his astonishment at being excluded from ESPN’s list of 20 most dominant athletes for 2018.
— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) December 11, 2018
Rickie Fowler celebrated his birthday alongside his fiancee Alisson Stokke, and friends Justin Thomas and Michelle Wie. The American turned 30 last week, making us all feel that little bit older.
Happy 30th birthday to one of the coolest/kindest/most badass guys I know!! Thanks for turning 30 before me so you can tell me how it is ???? #ineverwannaturn30 #29foreverrrrr pic.twitter.com/aTLF9mq43T
— Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) December 13, 2018
Epic Celebration Fail
The PNC Father-Son Challenge provided one of the worst golf celebrations that you’re ever likely to see.
Not ideal. pic.twitter.com/lDYGtSaXFm
— Skratch (@Skratch) December 15, 2018
Greg Norman’s Son Has Swag
From cringe to cool, Greg Norman’s son showed some serious swagger at the PNC Father-Son Challenge, picking up his team’s coin before his ball had even reached the cup.
Birdie #2 on #2! Let’s go Team ???? pic.twitter.com/eoXO8P2sxl
— Greg Norman (@SharkGregNorman) December 16, 2018
Long John Jr.
Speaking of cool, how about John Daly Jr. bombing drives on the range at the Father-Son event?
Proud papa. pic.twitter.com/bMXhjXbSQS
— Skratch (@Skratch) December 14, 2018
Jack’s Still Got It
Think the Golden Bear has lost his touch on the greens? Think again.
Was a great experience for a grandpa.
Hope it was great experience for a grandson.
Fantastic couple days w/ my 16-yr-old grandson GT in @PNCFatherSon. We were in hunt for better part of 2 days & there were lots of highlights, memories & lessons learned taken away! @ChampionsTour pic.twitter.com/SYHNJupL60
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) December 16, 2018
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) December 16, 2018
Nicklaus: Tiger’s swing is better now than ever
Jack Nicklaus is teeing it with his grandson, G.T., at the PNC Father/Son Challenge. As has been the case since, well, at least 1997, the Golden Bear was asked about the man closest to his record of 18 major championships.
Beyond weighing in on Woods’ win at the Tour Championship or whether he thinks Tiger has a shot at 18 majors, Nicklaus offered his perspective on Woods post-spinal fusion swing, and he likes what he sees…a lot.
“I think his swing is much better now than it ever was. The reason for that is Tiger was very much up and down with his head and I think that put a lot of pressure on his back.
“The fusion that he had, obviously was something he didn’t want but it was something he needed. … I didn’t think he would ever play golf as well as he’s playing.
“I never dreamed that he would play quite as well as he has and that the operation actually leveled out his head and leveled out his swing.”
High praise, indeed! What do you think about the 18-time major winner’s remarks, GolfWRX members?
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