Sunday, August 31, 2014

On Location: Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland

Donald Trump loves golf with a passion. 

A recent expression of that love is his purchase of the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland (formerly named The Lodge at Doonbeg) in County Clare. It's the 16th golf club in Trump's ever expanding golf portfolio.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and was impressed with the lodging, dining and golf offerings. Better still, the resort is going to improve as Donald Trump is embarking on an ambitious enhancement program this winter for the course and resort facilities. 

Set amid lush farmland and framed by the Atlantic Ocean, this luxurious resort near the village of Doonbeg features American style amenities with a distinct and engaging Irish flair and friendliness.  


Designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2002, the golf course looks like it's been there for decades. The site, which runs along 2 miles of a crescent shaped beach and dunes, is spectacular.

Some of the dunes rise to almost 100 feet and Norman stayed true to the land. His minimalist approach on the course led to a natural routing that resulted in five par 3s and five par 5s. The greens are not contrived and generally follow the natural terrain undulations.

Like most great links courses, don't let the yardage (6,785 from the black tees, 6,239 from white and 5,553 from gold) make you think you'll have a scorecard full of birdies. Between the constant ever-changing winds, high grasses and sometimes wildly undulating fairways, the layout is a formidable challenge. 

There are five sets of tees and I highly suggest you play the correct tee for your skill level. If you don't, bring along your calculator because the numbers will add up quickly if you keep trying to navigate the winds and hit long irons into the greens.

Postcard beautiful, the course offers majestic ocean views from the tee, fairway or green on 16 of the 18 holes. You'll definitely want to pause and take some pictures along the way.

For a video view of Trump International Golf Links, click here to Golf Travel Guru T.V.


Trump International Ireland has 218 rooms and suites. A classic links hotel room is 390 square feet. The Guru stayed in a Links Cottage, a wonderfully furnished, one-bedroom suite. The Links Cottages range in size from 1,100 square feet to 2,800 square feet.


--Marble bathroom with walk-in rainfall shower
--Air conditioning
--Custom design furnishings
--Egyptian cotton linens
--Exceptional high quality Internet access
--42 inch LCD flat-screen HDTV with DVD player

10 Little Things I Like

1. The phenomenal view of the 18th hole and oceanfront from the dining room where I had breakfast.

2. The interesting golf photos and artwork in the hallways just off the lobby.

3. The fireplace in my roomy golf cottage unit.

4. The shuttle bus to the village of Doonbeg.

5. The fantastic onion rings I enjoyed at the golf grill restaurant after a round of golf.

6. My caddie Owen, who was informative and helpful to me, a disoriented, jet lagged golfer.

7. The inspiring sounds of crashing waves next to the 18th green.

8. The genealogy services offered to trace your Irish ancestry.

9. The farmland surrounding the resort that provides a soothing buffer from the rest of the world.

10. The professionalism and attentiveness of the golf staff.


Trump's--On the second floor of the clubhouse with views of the Atlantic Ocean and 18th green, this warm and friendly pub-style restaurant has a fireplace, a bar with padded stools and lots of beers and ales on tap. Popular menu choices include Traditional Fish & Chips, Pan Seared Clare Island Salmon and Braised Shank of West Clare Lamb. P.S. Don't miss the world-class onion rings.

Ocean View--Voted the "Best Hotel Restaurant Ireland 2012" by the Restaurant Association of Ireland, this elegant and romantic dining experience features an extensive wine list, impeccable service and beautiful panoramas of the Atlantic Ocean surf. The menu, please...Highlights include the Seared Atlantic Scallops, Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb and Pan Fried Whole Black Sole.


--Luxuriate at the resort's White Horses Spa

--Take the resort shuttle bus into the village of Doonbeg.

 --Enjoy popular pubs in nearby Kilkee like Murphy Black's, Greyhound Bar and Naughton's Bar. 

--Visit the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, which are located 26 miles north of the resort.


--Fish for salmon and sea trout in Doonbeg River.

--Hike the picturesque West Clare Loop Walking Trails. 

--Ride the historic, steam-powered West Clare Railway train. 

--On-site genealogy services to trace your Irish ancestry.

--On-site Tranquility Hair and Nail Salon

--Activities arranged by the resort concierge such as horseback riding, coastal bicycle rides, kayaking, diving and rock climbing.


Trump International Ireland is located near the village of Doonbeg in County Clare on the main coastal road between Ballybunion and Lahinch about a 45 minute drive from Shannon International Airport.


For more information, click to Trump International Golf Links Ireland or the resort's website Trump Hotel Collection-Ireland. Telephone number is 353 65 905 560.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Product Review: Bluff Works Travel Pants

I received my Bluff Works Travel Pants several months ago. As a Florida resident, I don't get around to wearing long pants till, say, November. Even in the winter, you see more shorts than trousers on the course in the Sunshine State.

Luckily, I traveled to Ireland recently and I had more than a few chilly opportunities to wear my Bluff Works. I put them through a stern test on the Sandy Hills Links course at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Downings near Letterkenny in the County of Donegal. It was a windy day with a few raindrops along the way as I walked the sometimes wildly undulating layout next to the Atlantic Ocean.

Simply put, my Bluff Works performed much better than I did that blustery day.

Before I left on my trip, the breathable polyester fabric made the pants easy to roll neatly and pack in my suitcase and they took up minimal space. While they can be used for a variety of travel activities, I found them to be excellent golf pants. There are lots of pockets to hold tees, balls and divot repair tools. Bluff Works's biggest assets-- especially when you're walking a golf course-- is they're light-weight, wrinkle-free and super comfortable.

They look good on the course and in the clubhouse and you can even keep them on for dinner (as I did) for the ultimate in versatility.
Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Golf Resort in Ireland

My Bluff Works (light khaki) are what I would classify as an athletic cut and, I assume, designed for fit, action-oriented sportsmen. They're also available in charcoal, velvet brown and classic gray colors.

While my Bluff Works didn't help me find any of the countless golf balls I whacked into the tall grass rough at Rosapenna, they performed admirably.

If you're looking for a multi-functional travel pant that can be worn on the golf course, on a bike ride or even during a business meeting, I highly recommend Bluff Works.

Bluff Works are available in waist sizes of 28" to 42" and cost $93. You can buy them online at: Bluff Works Travel Pants

Saturday, August 9, 2014

On Location: Silverado Resort & Spa

Arnold Palmer has poured his heart and soul into Bay Hill in Orlando (Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge) and Jack Nicklaus takes immense pride in Muirfield Village, an upscale golf-oriented community in Dublin, Ohio. For hall of famer and NBC golf broadcaster Johnny Miller, the Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa, California is that extra special place.

Miller, a 25-time PGA TOUR winner and U.S. Open champion, is part of an investment group that purchased the resort in 2010. Since that time, Miller and his group have worked diligently to improve all aspects of the golf and overall resort experience.

Spread out over 1,200 acres in Napa Valley, the Silverado Resort & Spa is the ideal resort for golf and wine lovers. Miller makes sure the courses are in top notch condition and you're within an hour's drive of more than 750 tasting rooms in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. You can play golf in the morning and in the afternoon explore the wineries by private car, limousine, van, train or trolley.

Rest assured, you don't have to be a scratch golfer or wine sommelier to enjoy this part of the world. Miller's courses are very playable and enjoyable for all skill levels and the friendly folks at the tasting rooms will educate you in a light-hearted way about all things wine.


Silverado has two 18-hole championship golf courses, which are managed by Troon Golf. The North is the headliner layout and is the site of the PGA TOUR's Frys.Com Open (October 6-12, 2014). Miller has meticulously improved the North course with the clearing of trees, adding new trees, creating new bunkers and adding new fairway grasses.

"Johnny Miller has probably played more rounds of golf at Silverado than anywhere else," Silverado's director of golf Tim Geesey told me while we enjoyed some ice tea at The Grill on my visit. "He played in several junior and amateur tournaments here and then later won PGA TOUR tournaments at Silverado in 1974 and 1975. He knows the courses very well and is doing everything possible to make them great places to play for every type of golfer."

Dotted with redwood and oak trees--some that are as old as 300 years--the courses have a parklike feel. Add in some beautiful landscaping around the tee boxes and the golf experience is exceptional. If you want to play a leisurely, somewhat quiet round, play in the afternoon because Geesey says, "Nearly 80% of our rounds are played before 1:00 p.m. because everyone heads to the wineries in the afternoon."

North Course--Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the course stretches to 7,200 yards for the pros. For the average golfer, the blue tees are at 6,793 yards and white tees at 6,302 yards. Keep in mind, too, when examining the yardages, that the ball doesn't travel as far in Napa Valley air. Miller put a lot of thought into the placement of the bunkers and when you're standing at the tee box, you can't just grip it and rip. You've got to think you're way around this layout. Everything is in front of you on this course and it's very playable for the mid-handicapper. Miller's enhancements have created an exceptional resort course experience and a worthy site for a PGA TOUR event.

South Course--Overshadowed by the North, the South Course with it's 6,612 yards from the blue tees and 6,207 yards from the white tees is a bit kinder and gentler.  If you only play a few times a year, I suggest playing the South first before moving on to the more difficult North. The South, also originally designed by Jones, Jr., offers tree-lined fairways, water hazards and undulating greens.  For the ladies, it plays at 5,376 yards from the burgundy tees.

For a video view of the courses, click here to Golf Travel Guru T.V.


Silverado Resort has 380 rooms and suites. The menu encompasses standard guest rooms, junior suites with spacious king rooms with sitting areas and one-and-two bedroom suites, which have a full kitchen, dining room, living rooms, master bedroom and bath. Each suite has a wood-burning fireplace and balcony with views of courtyards, swimming pools or golf courses.

I stayed in a one-bedroom suite, which was decorated in soft muted earthtones that evoked a sophisticated Napa Valley feel. The full kitchen came in handy as there's a great Safeway grocery store about ten minutes from the resort, where you can load up on snacks and other items to make quick meals. As you would imagine, Safeway has a superb wine selection as well. A couple of small details I really liked about my suite were the large oversize showerhead, the bar style counter in the kitchen and the luxurious Euro-style linens. Too bad it was extra warm on my visit in July because I would've loved to have cranked up a fire in the fireplace.

Some highlights of my unit include:
--King bed
--Wifi access
--Coffee bar
--Egyptian cotton sheets
--Private balcony
--Living room
--Dining room
--Wood burning fireplace
--Stainless steel kitchen appliances

Here's a partial list of the resort amenities:
--Two signature restaurants
--16,000 square foot spa
--10 swimming pools
--13 tennis courts
--Main Lounge's Patio Terrace
--Bicycle rentals
--Jogging trails
--3 Bocce courts

10 Little Things I Liked:

1. The Burger Dog available at the snack shacks on the Silverado courses. Yes, these are the same phenomenal delicacies that became famous at the Olympic Club.

2. The displays of Johnny Miller's old MacGregor golf clubs in the clubhouse.

3. Great pace of play. The members at Silverado play at a good clip and the resort guests follow the lead so a four hour round is possible.

4. The laid back atmosphere throughout the resort. The beautiful landscaping makes you feel like you're strolling through some upscale college campus loaded with great amenities like a spa and terrace bar.

5. You can walk to the William Hill Estate Winery from the resort.

6. The frosty and delicious Napa Smith Brewery pilsner I enjoyed at The Grill bar after a round on the North Course.

7. The spectacular view of the surrounding mountains from my balcony.

8. The Keurig single serve coffee maker in my one-bedroom suite.

9. The bagpiper that marches up the 18th hole in front of the Terrace Bar at Silverado on Fridays and Saturdays.

10. Tim Geesey, Silverado's director of golf, who is profoundly dedicated to making the golf experience at the resort one of the best in the world.


The Grill at Silverado--Overlooking the golf courses, this casually elegant restaurant offers indoor and alfresco dining, Happy Hours on the weekdays and complimentary corkage fees on Sunday. Popular entrees include Pablo's Pollo Loco (pictured below), American Kobe Burger and Cabernet Braised Lamb Shank.

Royal Oak--It was closed for the season (I visited in July). Specialities include Angus Beef steaks and fresh grilled fish.

The Mansion Lounge--On cool evenings, it's a great place to sit around a stone fireplace and enjoy a Napa Valley wine or cocktail. You can also enjoy an outdoor setting on the patio terrace, which overlooks the golf course. From 10:00 p.m. till close, a late night bar menu is offered.


--Visit the more than 400 wineries within a 45-minute drive from the resort. Some of the largest wineries are Beringer, Castello di Amorosa (pictured below) and Robert Mondavi. Most of the wineries in Napa Vally are smaller and family owned and fun and interesting to visit. Some of the wineries Silverado has close ties with include, Artesa, Andretti, Bell Wine Cellars, Chimney Rock, Black Stallion, William Hill and Silverado Vineyards to name a few.

--Hot air ballooning
--Olive Oil tastings
--Dine in the town of Napa, about a 5 minute drive, which has numerous restaurant options in a revitalized downtown area. Enjoy a gourmet experience on the St. Helena Highway (the main wine road for Napa Valley), where there are several Michelin starred restaurants.
--Take in a concert at Uptown Theatre in Napa.
--Shop at the Oxbow Public Market, Napa Premium Outlets and Napa General Store.

For more information on things to do in the area, click to Visit Napa Valley.


The resort is located at 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa, California 94558, about 55 miles from the San Francisco International Airport and 45 miles from Sacramento International Airport.


For more information on the resort, go to To check on rates and availability, call 800-532-0500 or 707-257-0200.