Carolinas Golf Magazine

SPR 2019

golf, CGA, carolinas, junior, equipment, sport, PGA, LPGA, association, magazine

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34 | | S P R I N G 2 0 1 9 Distilleries such as Dingle (above) and Kilbeggan (right) are among the many places travelers can see how Irish whiskey is made, while goats still roam along some of Ireland's links. Open Championship that the major championship is being played outside England and Scotland. Royal Portrush hosted that 1951 Open Champi- onship, but this year's competitors will find a different Dunluce Links layout at the facility than Max Faulk - ner triumphed on nearly 70 years ago. The 17th and 18th holes were completely redesigned to make room for spectators and hospitality areas along the course, meaning even experienced European Tour players will be seeing this version of the course for the first time in July. Regardless of who becomes Champion Golfer of the Year at the Open, the event has already raised the profile of Irish golf on the world travel scene. Tour operators report strong interest and bookings for this year at Ireland's best-known courses. This despite some uncertainty about how Great Britain's ongoing Brexit negotiations may impact travel between the British Isles – which isn't a concern for travelers flying directly to Dublin or Belfast. If you're planning a trip around visiting Royal Portrush, you have great options for other courses in the area. Royal Portrush itself has a pair of courses, with the Valley Course joining Dunluce Links. Both play through majestic dunes with views of the sea and nearby White Rocks Strand. Along the same northern stretch are courses like Portstewart – past host of the Irish Open – and Ballycastle. The drive between these courses along the Causeway Coastal Route is truly stunning, with the churning Irish Sea ever present to the north. South past Belfast is Royal County Down, where the Championship Links course is ranked by Golf Digest as the No. 1 course outside the U.S. There's also the Annesley Links on site, but the Championship Links is where many of the game's greats have set foot. Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon and Harry Colt all helped shape the layout, and Royal County Down is a popular place for PGA Tour professionals to tune up prior to the Open Championship – including Tiger Woods and Tom Watson. TOURISM IRELAND

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