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Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham, Hoylake, Portmarnock, and Dublin Island

At Faraway Fairways we’ve noticed an increasing number of overseas visitors seeking to utilise the often less-expensive ‘gateway’ of Dublin as their point of arrival. For golfer’s this works well. It presents us with the possibility of combining the cream of England’s open venues with Ireland. Just 20 minutes from Dublin airport are the famous links of Portmarnock. Our first assignment is the ‘Langer’ course which features in a list of Ireland’s top-20. Whereas folk might be a little bit dismissive of resort courses, it’s perhaps worth remembering that the likes of Turnberry and Gleneagles came into existence using this route. The Portmarnock Links are an excellent introduction for the assignment that lies in wait the following day at the more famous Portmarnock Golf Club. This becomes the first of four courses that can be relied upon to hold a world top-100 ranking at any given time. The Portmarnock golf course is widely regarded as one the fairest and truest tests of any links golfer on the planet. If you play well, you’ll be rewarded. If you play badly, you’ll be punished.

After Portmarnock we fly the short journey to northern England and Manchester, where we begin the swing of a trio of Open Championship venues on the Lancashire coast. First up is Royal Birkdale, widely regarded as England’s premier links golf course, and the host venue that allowed Jordan Spieth to have his name carved onto the claret jug. The next day we play Hoylake on Merseyside, an old-fashioned links that since it returned to the Open rotation has rewarded Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. The trio is completed the next day with Royal Lytham, a course which perhaps we associate with Ballesteros but which has statistically speaking at least, possibly eclipsed Carnoustie as the most difficult on the rotation. Lytham has hosted the Open, the Seniors Open, The Ryder Cup, and the Walker Cup. With its red bricked and green gabled clubhouse, it’s one of the most recognisable in golf. This completes the rump of England’s Open venues with Ireland added for extra value. Only Royal St George’s has alluded us, but we can still say with some justification that this is as good an English golf vacation as you can get without dedicating the whole duration to the task.

We do of course need to return to Ireland so as to fulfil our terms of carriage, for this is whence we came. Our final challenges therefore is the Island Club, a quirky links course of character and legend which appears in the country’s prestigious top-10. ‘The Island’ is certainly no stop-gap designed to fill a place in the diary and facilitate the transit. Some good judges will tell you that they prefer it to the more celebrated options at Portmarnock

For a comparatively short break, the Portmarnock, Royal Birkdale, Lytham, & Hoylake combination is of a surprisingly high-quality. Four courses over six days that hold world top-100 rankings probably doesn’t require any further justification. They advertise themselves. Taken together you’ve got the best of England’s Open venues with Ireland, and can also count Dublin and Liverpool as additional reasons to look favourably on this comparatively inexpensive option.



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Sunday PORTMARNOCK LINKS Dublin Dublin
Monday PORTMARNOCK GC Glendalough Liverpool
Tuesday ROYAL BIRKDALE Liverpool Liverpool
Wednesday ROYAL LIVERPOOL/ HOYLAKE Chester Liverpool
Thursday ROYAL LYTHAM Blackpool Liverpool


6 Nights Duration
  • Premier
  • Affordable

TRANSPORT - This tour involves two flights between Dublin and Manchester and back. It is possible to use a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead but you will need an arrangement that permits you to take a vehicle out of Ireland. There is also an overnight ferry between Dublin and Liverpool which would work, but is also subject to a similar restriction. Faraway Fairways recommend flying instead, but don't include the price of any flights in the cost. You will need to make this arrangement yourselves once we have been able to confirm tee-times. Flights between Dublin and Manchester are plentiful and cheap

NON GOLF ACTIVITY - Non-golfers get more time for non-golf activity than golfers. An asterisk (*) is used on the ‘Non-Golf’ button in the itineraries to indicate where a golfer could reasonably expect to be able to undertake an activity. Anything left unmarked is only practical for non-golfers to undertake. Check the button called ‘What’s Included’ that appears on the final named day ‘tab’ to see if it’s included in a price.

DISCLAIMER - The content of all tours are sold subject to availability and final confirmation of price. We do not speculatively book hotels in advance. Late bookings might be subject to a market led price increment. The prices displayed are strong indicators of what you would expect to pay but can also fluctuate in line with choices people wish to add or omit. Please check what's included. Prices are per person based on two sharing


This links Bernhard Langer designed links borders its illustrious neighbour, the Portmarnock Golf Club. For such a new layout, the Hotel Links is a very natural and understated course. There is nothing showy about the design; the natural land is used simply and effectively. The first eight holes play across gently-undulating ground with definition provided by varied grasses and pot bunkers. Then, around the turn, a cluster of shaggy sand dunes provides a much more pronounced aspect. Resort courses tend to be regarded by golfer’s with suspicion, but this one quickly established itself in Ireland’s top-20 and should be treated as an exception


With a rich history closely aligned to the progression of golf in Ireland, Portmarnock has hosted numerous Irish Open Championships, the Walker Cup, the Irish Amateur Championship and the British Amateur Championship. From Sam Snead to Seve Ballesteros, some of golf’s best-known names have tested their skills this majestic narrow tongue of shallow dunes-land, just north of Dublin. Considered by many as one of the fairest links courses in the world it delivers an incredible challenge and true test of golf. In 2016 Portmarnock secured a prestigious world-25 ranking, perhaps five-time Open Championship winner Tom Watson summed up the links best during his visits saying “There are no tricks or nasty surprises, only an honest, albeit searching test of shot making skills.”


Whereas the argument to be called Scotland’s best links is competitive, the English title is less contested. Royal Birkdale is widely acknowledged to wear the crown and renowned for its fairness, immaculate condition, and being a tough assignment to conquer. The fairways are laid out in the flat-bottomed valleys between towering dunes making it particularly hazardous is the wind. Shots breaking from sheltered positions suddenly begin to take on their on sense of independent thought. It’s part of select group of courses to have hosted the Open (10 times) and the Ryder Cup. Birkdale’s roll-call is equally impressive with the names of Palmer, Trevino, and Watson prominent, who can possibly forget the trevails of Jordan Spieth at the 13th in 2017 on his way to victory


Hoylake has a long and illustrious history of playing host to the Open, and has now staged twelve, its first in 1897. Since it’s return the names of Woods and McIlroy were added to the claret jug, which perhaps hints to the fact it rewards the worthy. Founded in 1869, Hoylake is the second oldest seaside links course in England. Hoylake is a tough links. Only six holes are in the dunes – otherwise there is little protection from the ever-changing wind. The land is unusually flat, offering little in the way of definition and reference points, in this regard it requires you to envision a shot


Royal Lytham could never be described as a “classical” links course. It doesn’t have any giant shaggy dunes, nor does it have undulating roller-coaster fairways or pretty sea views, but with its red roofed, green gabled clubhouse it has character and bags of history. The course itself is extremely tough. An analysis of the most recent Open Championships that Faraway Fairways has undertaken suggests that Lytham is in fact the most difficult of the courses on the rotation. Numerous sandhills, particularly long and snaggly grasses, and an abundance of bunkers (174 of them) do the defending. It’s perhaps not surprising that a renowned escapologist like Seve Ballesteros twice lifted the claret jug here


For good reason this course ranks # 78 in the top 100 ‘Architects Choice’. The Island Golf Club enjoys a unique setting bordered by sea on 3 sides. A classic links course set in a rugged terrain & nestled between the highest sand dunes along the east coast. The Island was indeed once on an island. It’s now attached to the mainland but it’s still an isolated peninsula-like spur of links land, sandwiched between the Irish Sea, the beach of Donabate and the Broadmeadow estuary. Few people know about The Island Golf Club, despite the fact that the course is over 100 years old and has featured in numerous ranking tables over the years.

Time to say Goodbye

Time, as they say, waits for no man, and sadly we’re no exception. Today it’s time to bid you farewell, hope you enjoyed your stay, and will consider returning soon. Better still, the return match awaits. We’ll ensure you get to your airport for a safe, and comfortable return across the Atlantic, where the benefits of flying east to west will now become apparent, as you land a mere two hours after you took off! Don’t forget to stay in touch through our blog, email, or the social networks, as we update information. Once again, thank you

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