For the travelling golfer, Ireland’s north west corner remains a land of undiscovered thrills. The links courses of Counties Mayo and Sligo might not be given the same acclaim as those on the west or north coast of the golfing mecca, but they're every bit as good. And, in some ways, even better.
The most obvious reason is green fees. Even with the current recession driving down the price of golfing - as well as hotels, food and drink - to keep the tourist industry ticking over, the value in the north west is remarkable.
Indeed, what a lot of golfers don’t appreciate is that there is an even better and cheaper way to play golf in this beautiful corner of Ireland - a competitive, amateur environment for you and your friends that’s not too serious but still promises the thrill of competing for prizes worth a whopping €2,500.
In the Atlantic Coast Challenge, from July 2 to 4, you will play three rounds of terrifying yet glorious golf across three days. Employing the stableford format, individual and team, you will tackle Carne, County Sligo - perhaps better known as Rosses Point - and Enniscrone.
Each course has won numerous accolades yet you don’t have to pay the green fees that many Championship courses demand. If I said €135, roughly £110, you’d say that was pricey, but if I said that was to play all three courses surely you’d take a second look!
And what if I said you could win a chance for three of you to play for free simply by visiting my website?
So what makes this tournament so special – aside from the price? It’s the quality of the courses. They are enthralling golf adventures from start to finish, the people are friendly and you’ll quickly learn to go with the flow, which can best be described as ‘relaxed’.
Carne Golf Club sits on the edge of the Irish coast – next stop west is New York – and it’s big golf country. The dunes are so tall on the back nine they squeeze the air out of the sky; and the landscape feels utterly alive around you. There are shots here you’ll have to play that you won’t believe. Holes 11 and 12 are mind-bending.
County Sligo offers a very different experience, with dynamic changes of pace and spectacular scenery stretching between Benbulbin and Knocknaree Mountain, and beyond.
Finally Enniscrone threatens to swallow you at times, as you rise and fall through a dense dune system that promises momentary glimpses of Killala Bay, before tossing you back in to the thick of it with thrilling shots on every hole.
It’s a very short trip by ferry (to Larne, Belfast, Dublin and Dun Laoghaire) then it's a few hours drive across superb countryside. By air I recommend you head for Knock Airport, just 30 miles from Sligo, and which links to 11 airports around the UK.
There are plenty of accommodation options too, bookable online, from self-catering to 4* hotels.
The closing date to enter the tournament is April 30, 2012 so hurry if you’re keen to experience ‘the craic’ of Irish golf. Alternatively to simply book a tee time or visit the tournament website, click here.
Tell us on the forum your experiences of playing golf in this part of Ireland - the courses, the weather, the cost, the hospitality.