The g Hotel Galway, County Galway
A mini palace of sleek modernity, the g is the hotel as film set, a place that could easily be confused with the boutique digs of Hollywood or Cannes. The impresario of the g is Philip Treacy, one of the world's leading hat designers. He's let his imagination rip here—from the black glass walls in the reception area to the white simplicity of the Grand Salon and the cheerful colors of the Santini restaurant. The bedrooms are among the most glamorous to be found in Ireland, or anywhere for that matter. There are 101 guest rooms, twenty-six junior suites and three full suites, including one named for supermodel Linda Evangelista. There's a classy spa on the upper two floors as well. Among the great northwest links to which Galway serves as a gateway, Connemara is the closest, just over an hour's drive from the city.
Rates: From $550$2,434. Call 011-353/9186-5200 or visit theghotel.ie.
Goodwood Golf Club Chichester, West Sussex
Goodwood's old course has long been notable for being among the best downland tests in Britain—those being the areas of open countryside found near the white chalk cliffs overlooking the English Channel. For three hundred years, the downs near Goodwood were primarily known as the home of a famed thoroughbred racetrack. Golf, however, is clearly a new focus for the current owner, Lord March, who tasked architect Howard Swan to oversee a four-year renovation of the 1914 James Braid design. Some of Braid's subtleties have been masked by the renovation, but the elevated greens and side bunkering—especially at the beautiful par-three twelfth—still offer hints of his masterpiece at Gleneagles. In the summer months, the contrasting colors of the grasses and the clear blue coastal skies are something to behold.
Greens Fees: Play is open to members only, but you can join Goodwood for $252 plus $350 worth of "golf credits," which will give you five peak-time or ten off-peak rounds. Inquiries: 011-44/1243-755-144 or visit goodwood.co.uk.
Royal Ascot Golf Club Ascot, Berkshire
Like Goodwood, Royal Ascot Golf Club's association with racing stretches back many years. This Berkshire club was founded in 1887 and for more than a century was surrounded by the famous Royal Ascot Racecourse. No longer. The club has jumped the fence, as it were, and this year, as the old course reverts to heathland, a new one opens within the grounds of Windsor Forest. The 6,294-yard layout was designed by Jonathan Tucker of the Sports Turf Institute and cuts its way through a medieval deer forest. Greens are mostly flat, protected by shallow bunkering, but the main asset of the course is the serene beauty of its surroundings. Play is supposed to be strictly with a member, but with a polite letter (in advance) to the club secretary, a playing partner may be found.
Greens Fees: $44$52. Tee Times: 011-44/1344-625-175 or visit royalascotgolfclub.co.uk.