Arklow Arklow A links dating back to 1927, Arklow is a course rarely mentioned among Ireland’s great links arsenal. And yet it has all the traits you could ask for, with bumpy mischievous fairways, perfect lilting greens and some spectacularly aggressive bunkering – especially in the middle of the course: the par three 9th and 11th will leave you reeling. The clubhouse sits above it all and from the car park you get great views of the course and out to sea, offering an appetiser of what is to come. Arklow is a low-running links where bump-and-run is nearly always an option – and often the best strategy – but you need to be cunning to play this par 69 well. The par four 2nd, and the par four 6th which crosses it (so beware), are perfect examples where, despite generous fairways, intelligence off the tee is the only route to par. Royal Curragh In 2013, The Curragh uncovered proof that it was the oldest golf club on the island. They used that opportunity to revive their ‘Royal’ prefix. It has given a unique club a deservedly higher profile. The free-draining soil means play is possible all year round, although the spring/summer months may prove most attractive when the gorse is in full bloom. It is both alluring and a fair warning of the risks of going too far offline. Realistically, that shouldn’t happen as there is space to play. There are plenty of changes in elevation and those bumpy, heathland-like fairways and natural greens mean every single shot is an adventure. The sheep that once roamed the course are now mere spectators. 40 Moyvalley The flowing, easy, almost hypnotic rhythm of Moyvalley is something you experience when you drive into the resort. It’s a long driveway and you get a good idea of what lies ahead. The occasional giant tree, standing alone beside fairways, the splashes of gorse on the rolling mounds and the golden grasses flashing in the sunshine. Moyvalley is a course that divides opinions but this is elegant, pleasurable golf from start to finish. The fairways are generous and the greens big and inviting. Playing here is more about settling into that rhythm than playing one dramatic hole after another… that said, the closing three holes promise a big finish, with water threatening on two of them. The 18th is a beauty. Knightsbrook Knightsbrook is the full resort package and one of Ireland’s newest parkland additions. The clubhouse is part of a hotel, and they both watch over the 1st hole which slides alongside. It is a Christy O’Connor Jr design and it is a muscular beast, measuring 6,600 yards (par 72) from the forward green tees… you’ll need to be driving well to take Knightsbrook on. But the doglegs are plentiful and the water features magnetic so length is only one of the requirements Trees are infrequent so you definitely have lots of room to play on an open, mounded landscape, and hitting into such quality greens is always a thrill.