The bounce back 'has been very strong’

Joe Shannon, CEO, G Golf Ireland with Irish golfer Rory McIlroy

Ireland is home to 400 golf clubs, including a third of the world’s natural links courses, and a selection of exceptional championship courses in amazing locations. Named International Golf Destination of the Year on more than one occasion by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, Ireland will play host to The 153rd Open in Royal Portrush (2025) and the Ryder Cup in Adare Manor (2027).

We speak to Joe Shannon, CEO, luxury Irish golf tour operator G Golf Ireland, for further insight into the return and rise of golf holidays in Ireland.

“Ireland had very strict policies and restrictions on travel during Covid19, meaning the country was effectively closed for inbound travel during 2020 and 2021. This resulted in existing bookings being deferred until this year, and, once restrictions eased during Q1 of this year, additional new demand for premium Irish golf experiences has recovered faster than anticipated. The bounce back has been very strong.”

The result is that 2019 levels of business have already been surpassed. “We were entering a growth phase of our business coming into 2020 and we continued to invest in sales and marketing during the pandemic which is paying off now.

“We undertook three sales trips to the Middle East and other marketing activity in recent years, which has laid our foundations in the region. We are already doing business from the Middle East and feel there is significant potential there. Our golf season (April to October) corresponds well with holiday periods and when it is too hot to play golf in the Middle East.”

Some of the top luxury products that are selling this year are Adare Manor, which is getting a lot of traction this year on the back of the star-studded JP McManus Pro-Am in July and the countdown to their hosting of the 2027 Ryder Cup. Ireland has nine courses in the 2022 Golf Digest World Top 100 courses, Shannon tells TTN and the long-established Ballybunion, Old Head of Kinsale, Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, and Portmarnock are all having exceptional years and are already heavily booked for 2023.

Golfing has come back differently post pandemic, Shannon observes. “The main difference being that the lead time for booking is getting longer as demand for Irish golf is growing. The opportunity to play links golf is also a big attraction as Ireland has almost one third of the true links courses in the world.

“If you want to play the top Irish venues in 2023 and beyond, now is the time to make plans,” Shannon advises.