The Road to Ballybunion
Ballybunion is in southwest Ireland's County Kerry. Fly into Shannon Airport, a two-hour drive away, or the regional Kerry Airport. Avis and Hertz rent cars out of both (book well in advance). The climate tends to be mild during the spring, summer and fall, with much cooler temps in the winter. Be prepared for rainfall year-round, of course.
WHERE TO PLAY
BALLYBUNION GOLF CLUB, Old and Cashen courses, County Kerry, 011-353-68-27146. The legendary Old course is one of the game's true meccas, which Herbert Warren Wind called "nothing less than the finest seaside course I have ever seen." Its brother links, Cashen, is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. masterpiece, with each hole exuding beauty and drama (not to mention steep climbs). Par/Yardage: 72/6,651 (Old); 72/6,306 (Cashen). Green Fees: about $84 (Old); about $45 (Cashen). Architects: original unknown, 1893; Tom Simpson and Molly Gourlay redesign, 1936; Tom Watson redesign, 1995 (Old); Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1981 (Cashen). How to Play: Visitors are welcome April 1October 31 during the week. Handicap certificate required (twenty-four or better). Tee times are taken by reservation only, on a first-come, first-serve basis (one year in advance is recommended). You can call direct, go through tour operators like Travelling the Fairways (800-414-8519) and PerryGolf (800-344-5257), or go through a local tee-time reservation service like Swing (011-353-66-7125773). Also nearby are Waterville Golf Links (011-353-66-947-4102, three hours), Tralee Golf Club (011-353-66-713-6379, one hour), Killarney Golf & Fishing Club (011-353-64-31034, one hour) and, soon, Doonbeg.
WHERE TO STAY
There are first-rate accommodations in Limerick (The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, 011-353-69-68508, one hour); Adare (Adare Manor, 011-353-61-396-566, and Dunraven Arms Hotel, 011-353-61-396-633, both one hour); Killarney (The Killarney Park Hotel, 011-353-64-35555, one and a half hours); and Tralee (The Meadowlands Hotel, 011-353-66-71-80444, forty-five minutes). But for a taste of Ballybunion's charm, here are a couple of suggestions.
HARTY COSTELLO, 011-353-68-27129. A guesthouse, restaurant and pub in the center of town. Sergio and Seve have visited.
IRAGH TI CONNOR, 011-353-68-27112. A seventeen-bedroom country home on Main Street with an excellent restaurant.
THE 19TH GREEN, 011-353-68-27592. B&B right across from Ballybunion Golf Club that serves gourmet breakfast.
TEACH DE BROC, 011-353-68-27581. A small, family-run guesthouse located a minute walk away from the golf course.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Enjoy a pint at The Presidents Inn, Irish American Bar or Feale Bar. For dinner, check out Iragh Ti Connor or Harty Costello.