FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Ashford Castle Golf Course, County Mayo, Ireland

by Francis X. Gallagher

Aug 1, 2015
2015

Ashford Castle may have its roots in 1228 when the de Burgo family conquered the O’Conner family in Connaught, but it was not until 1973 that Eddie Hackett built a golf course here. Hackett, the golf pro from Portmarnock Golf Club outside of Dublin, was considered a radical by many designers of his day, as he did not believe in the huge earth-moving projects of his contemporaries. Rather, Hackett felt it best to rely on nature as his main motivator and sculpted each of his courses with this in mind.

When John Mulcahy purchased the County Mayo property in 1970, he dreamed of completing a massive castle renovation, nearly doubling its size. Building the nine-hole course was part of his grand design to improve the surrounding grounds and gardens and offer a more diverse experience to the guests of Ashford. After a long line of owners (including the Guinness family, who once called Ashford home), Mulcahy put his personal stamp on the future of the property with the signature golf course.

The course acts as your introduction as you drive up the long road to the castle, passing several holes and greens to the property’s grand entrance.

Hole 3 | 391 yards, par 4
Tom Watson scored an eagle here when he stayed at Ashford Castle before playing Royal Birkdale Country Club in 1983. Impressive as it sounds, it is even more impressive when you consider the hole. For Watson to land on the green in one, he had to cut the corner over a tree to the green (perhaps the tree was not as tall in 1983). It is a feat to admire after you tee up and play the hole.

My drive was lackluster and stayed far and right enough to be blocked by the large tree that signified the dogleg turn to the green, which is uphill. At about 195 yards away, I took a 5-wood with a fabulous draw around but short of the green. A simple chip over the flat sand trap and I recovered.

Hole 5 | 327 yards, par 4
This is the signature hole of the course and is called the “Island Hole,” as it offers remarkable views of some of the 300-plus islands in Lough Corrib and the beautiful Ashford Castle in the foreground. I nearly lost my drive right (a blind tee shot), but I landed safely on the right side in the rough. From here I took a mid-iron to the green, favoring the right side.

Hole 8 | 270 yards, par 4
As they say, a little course knowledge goes a long way. On Hole 8, it is important to aim this blind shot significantly farther left than you believe is needed from the tee box. Otherwise, you will be on the right side in the rough with the way to the green blocked by a tree. This is exactly what happened to me, but my lie was fluffy in the rough and I took an 8-iron, believing that 80 percent of trees are air. Well, this tree was a little leafier; and although my shot was decent, it came up short of the green. A little chip and I was in putting distance for a par.

After the round was finished, we took a short seven-minute walk to Ireland’s School of Falconry, which is part of the Ashford experience. We met up with Laura Gallagher (no relation) for a tour of the facility and to take a Hawk Walk with one of Ashford’s more famous attractions, a female Harris hawk named Swift. Harris hawks are native to America and are particularly agile with their short wings and long tails. This gives Swift the ability to fly down from her perch in a tree and land gently on your arm — to receive a treat, of course.

The peregrine falcons, which also reside at Ashford, are birds that attack their prey in the air as opposed to Harris hawks, which attack mice and other small creatures, even large jack rabbits, on the ground. This makes the Harris more suitable for the walking class.

Once we received basic instruction on the proper handling of Swift, we headed off to our walk on the grounds of Ashford as well as through some of the wooded trails. The catch and release procedure was instituted, and we witnessed these magnificent birds in action eating from our gloves and swooping down from their high perch as we admired the dexterity of their maneuvers through wooded paths.

Ashford Castle Golf Course

Cong, County Mayo Ireland
tel 353 94 954 6003
ashfordcastle.com

Newsletter sign-up

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Jun 28, 2022

Samaná, A Hidden Gem, Nestled in Stunning Caribbean Destination

Tucked away between the verdant hills of the Dominican Republic and beautiful waters of the Caribbean Sea, Samaná is the perfect year-round destination. No matter what time of year you choose to visit this hidden gem, you can check things off your travel bucket list. In the summer, escape the busy tourism hot spots and explore off-the-beaten path areas and activities; in the winter, embark on an eco-excursion like whale watching in Samaná Bay.

Celebrity is celebrating Spring with 25% off Cruise Fares!

There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*

Daily
Jun 28, 2022

All-Inclusive Luxury in Antalya on the Turkish Riviera

The coastal town of Belek in Antalya serves as the setting for the brand new, 5-star Cullinan Belek, named for the largest rough diamond ever discovered. Set along the sparkling azure waters of the Turkish Riviera, the new property boasts its own private white-sand beach, with 600 plush guestrooms (including 10 luxurious villas), all providing sea views. The hotel also has 13 swimming pools, 10 dining venues and five bars.

Leisure Lifestyle 2022
Jun 28, 2022

Look for Unique Museums Filled with Fascinating Artifacts Wherever you Travel

Museums beckon wherever we go. They amuse and enlighten travelers and bring to public attention historical, artistic, scientific and natural wonders. Most are thought-provoking and educational, stretching our minds and our knowledge of the world. Some, however, stand out as just plain quirky: personal and sometimes whimsical collections, museums dedicated to a unique skill or long- forgotten industry, arcane collections originally designed for scientific study. Others devote their space to sharing a subject that represents one person’s consuming passion.

United’s 100 Percent Green Commitment to be Carbon Neutral by 2050

United Airlines remains firmly committed toward sustainability in aviation. The latest development in its eco-conscious goals includes working with Oxy Low Carbon Ventures to commercialize the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with biotech firm Cemvita Factory. Cemvita looks to develop a revolutionary new way to produce SAF by using carbon dioxide and synthetic microbes. Additionally, United Airlines Ventures (UAV) recently announced an equity investment in Fulcrum, and United has invested more in SAF production than any other airline in the world.

Daily
Jun 27, 2022

Seoul Tourism Organization Joined IMEX, Shares Cultural Highlights

The Seoul Tourism Organization participated in IMEX, the world’s largest MICE exhibition, in Frankfurt, Germany, May 29–June 2. IMEX celebrated its 200th anniversary this year.

Daily
Jun 23, 2022

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Completes Sea Trials

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection celebrated an exciting moment recently when Evrima, its inaugural yacht, completed a series of successful sea trials. On June 9, in Santander, Spain, Evrima reached what is considered one of the final shipbuilding milestones prior to launch with the sea trials, a series of tests carried out when the yacht is sailing on open waters. Captain Steven MacBeath led the trials, alongside a team of senior officers, engineers, contractors and shipyard staff.

The State of Sustainability in Global Business Travel

Much of the global business travel industry has already made sustainable business travel a priority with a focus on reducing emissions and their environmental footprint. But the industry, as well as external stakeholders, such as policymakers, recognize more needs to be done.

Daily
Jun 23, 2022

What’s New in California for Summer 2022

California entices travelers to visit the Golden State this summer with new programming, events and offerings.