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
--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.
DINING & LOUNGING
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.
THINGS TO DO
--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.
GET THE SCOOP
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.