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Lighthouse at the tip of Old Head Golf Links.

Featured Article

Making Lifetime Memories

A Covid-Delayed Trip Was the Chance of a Lifetime for Longtime Friends to Experience Irish Golf

Article by Michael Beightol

Photography by Michael Beightol

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

A plan was hatched five years earlier; four friends would travel to Ireland for golf and good times. The worst days of the pandemic delayed the trip a year and heightened our anticipation.

Departure from O'Hare meant we had to meet the myriad of Covid-travel requirements of the moment. Arriving six hours later in Dublin was all about getting acclimated to the six-hour time difference from Chicago. The multi-cultural capital city is great to explore by foot, soaking up history and enjoying the pubs. Let's just say the Guinness never tasted better.

Round One was a warm-up on Howth Island northeast of Dublin at Deer Park, a municipal course distinguished by views of the city, the sea, a crumbling castle, and a very long uphill 18th fairway. It was a good place to shake off the rust and prepare ourselves for walking the golf courses; golf carts are reserved for the old or injured, and everybody else hoofs it.

For the Second Round (at Grange Golf Club, the home course of Irish golf legend Paul McGinley) we enjoyed full member privileges and terrific hospitality. A post-round lunch of fish-and-chips (and Guinness, of course) was perfect on a balcony with views of the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin.

On the fourth day we drove cross-country to Killarney, a more central location for golfing in western Ireland. The interstate highways were speedy, but the last few kilometers on two-lane roads were a bit unsettling when encountering lorries or tourist buses. Yikes!

On the day for Round Three we started with a long drive past the small fishing village of Kinsale in County Cork. To call Old Head a seaside course is not entirely accurate since it’s “sea surrounded” on a narrow peninsula where the North Atlantic meets the Irish Sea 300-feet below. A gorgeous sunny day with just the puff of a breeze meant none of our shots sent balls to a watery grave. Like here in the States, golf courses felt the pinch of labor shortages. Fergus, our solo caddie, carried two of our golf bags while two of us used trollies. Fergus made the round enjoyable with a stream of stories and useful knowledge about the course.

Round Four was in County Kerry at the cathedral of golf—Ballybunion—founded in 1893 and a top links course in the world. Club selection, straight tee shots and accurate approaches were rewarded with difficult but fair putts; our caddies dissuaded us from guessing how a putt might break. When we used their insights, two-putting resulted regularly.

Round Five was at Lahinch in County Clare, another links course hard by the Atlantic where we found a beach crowded with surfers on a sunny day. To call Lahinch rugged doesn’t do justice to how cleverly the course, opened in 1892, is laid out amidst grassy dunes. Some fairways are impossibly narrow; a few approaches are completely blind, up-and-over dunes.

After a while scoring wasn’t as important as enjoying a final round in Ireland with long-time friends on a world-class golf course that sits snugly between a picturesque village and the ocean.


Where We Played

  • Deer Park Golf: Seaside views, lots of elevation changes at a venerable Dublin municipal course (
  • Grange Golf Club: Private Dublin course with lots of up-and-down. Meticulously maintained and a very long walk (
  • Old Head Golf Links: In County Cork with surreal views atop cliffs with crashing surf below. Great patio for post-match drinks (
  • Ballybunion Golf Club: Ranked 24th in the world by, a must-play County Kerry course by the sea (
  • Lahinch Golf Club (Old Course): Original design by Old Tom Morris, a punishing test that is just plain fun in County Clare. (
  • Killarney and a County Kerry sunset.
  • Intrepid crew of David Lydy (Birmingham, MI), Michael Beightol (North Barrington), John Plescia (Lake Barrington) & Chris Nolan (North Barrington).
  • Lighthouse at the tip of Old Head Golf Links.
  • Ballybunion in County Kerry.
  • Ballybunion on a brilliant fall day.
  • Concentrating on the putt.
  • At Lahinch Caddie Don shows the way.