Travel: Tee off in the Emerald Isle

Whatever the EU did or didn’t do for the British, all golfers from the UK travelling to Ireland ought to be saying a big “thank-you” to the bureaucrats of Brussels.

They coughed up millions of euros to part-fund a new motorway and trunk roadinfrastructure that has brought the glorious south west coast into reach for a week’s golf.

If you take your car from Sheffield, you won’t need to drive on a single carriageway all the way to wild and wondrous Co Kerry once you hit the M62 this side of Manchester, and arrive on the same day.

With an excellent ferry service across the Irish Sea from Holyhead to Dublin youcan easily take your clubs and trolley with you and you will not even have to pay to take them on the ship.

Leisurely and laid-back is the order of the day in South West Ireland, and that extends to the golf clubs too, where the genuine welcome is legendary.

Value-for- money and at one with all the glories of nature are the by-words of the south west of Ireland links and parkland courses that seem to crop up on everycorner.

Killarney is a famous tourist town and is a perfect base for exploring the region’spicture postcard mountains, lakes, coasts, towns and castles. It is full of hotels, such as the excellent family run Arbutus Hotel in the middle of town.

Golfers are spoilt for choice. There are numerous golf courses including the acclaimed links at Ballybunion, Waterville and Tralee.

I recently played four, each presenting unique challenges yet all sharing thecommon factors of fabulous scenery and laid-back Irish values.Beaufort GC is a short drive from Killarney, at the base of Carrauntouhill,Ireland’s highest mountain.

The club undertook some serious investment in 2007 to remodel the course and the result is a beautifully constructed parkland layout with a few subtle water features, such as the lake on the 18th . Plenty of holes require careful club selection and it is a joy to play. It is also a steal when it comes to green fees making it an ideal starting course for any golf tour based around Killarney.

By contrast, Dingle Links, or Ceann Sibeal as it is named in Gaelic, is a bit of a trek from base camp. However, it is well worth the journey, not least for the magnificent coastal scenery and a visit to Dingle town and its fantastic seafood bar, Ashes.

Set a little inland it lacks the dunes of more typical links layouts, but don’t be fooled, this really is pure links golf in terms of natural conditions, fast running fairways, hard greens and a stiff sea breeze.

Killarney itself is home to the smart Killarney Golf and Fishing Club that boasts three quality courses. Best regarded is the Killeen, a parkland layout which starts with the first four holes running by the side of Lough Leane before turning in to the park. Beautifully conditioned, this is one not to miss.Killorglin GC, is 20 minutes from Killarney, and has stunning views over Dingle Bay and the MacGillcuddy Reeks mountains. It’s a modern parkland course with excellent greens and offers amazing value for money and the very friendly welcome so typically found across the Republic.