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Lahinch Golf Club. The grand old man of Irish links courses, Old Lahinch was originally designed by Old Tom Morris from St. Andrews in 1894, following the natural contours of the dunes, and is said to have a real Scottish flavor. In the 1920s design maestro Alister MacKenzie improved on the original, creating a memorably challenging 18 holes, with undulating greens, huge bunkers, and maddening blind shots. The Castle Course, built in 1963, is less of a challenge, but has some awkwardly placed bunkers and water hazards to negotiate. The Seafront, Lahinch, Co. Clare. 065/708–1003. www.lahinchgolfclub.com. Fees: Standard: €120 (Old), €30 (Castle); Jan.–Mar. and Nov.–Dec. Mon.–Fri.: €50 (Old), €20 (Castle). See website for other seasonal offers. 36 holes. Yardage 6,950 (Old), 5,700 (Castle). Practice area, caddies, club hire, buggies, catering. Visitors: daily (some restrictions).
Doonbeg Golf Club. Despite being held up for a time (due to government legislation to protect a rare local snail), Greg Norman–designed Doonbeg has arrived with a major splash on the Irish links scene. Physically stunning, this tough, unforgiving course stretches along nearly 2 mi of pristine Atlantic beach and dunes. The magnificent par-4 15th—with funnel-shaped green surrounded by huge dunes—is at the center of the whole course. Gamblers beware: anything long could easily run off the green and never be seen again. If you make it to the tricky 18th, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the ocean. Doonbeg, Co. Clare. 065/905–5602. www.doonbeglodge.com/golf-ireland.html. Fees: May–Sept., Mon.–Thurs. €130, Fri.–Sun. €150; Oct.–Apr., Mon.–Thurs. €90, Fri.–Sun. €100. 18 holes. Yardage: 6,885. Par 72. Practice area, caddies, caddy carts, catering. Visitors: daily.
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