In Search of Value
Ask any golfer for their definition of ‘value for money’ and the range of answers will be very broad indeed. There are those who think that a €40 green fee is excessive while others will part company with €250 to enjoy a once-in-a-life-time experience. No doubt, during a round or in the clubhouse, you have heard or yourself uttered the refrain, “I’d never pay over XXX for a green fee,” where XXX could be any amount from €40 to €200.

That’s fair enough. It all comes down to your budget and how much you want to play top courses. You can still play some first class clubs for under €100, and even under €40 – Carne included – but many of the world’s best will be beyond reach. So, ask yourself a simple question: how much would you pay to play Augusta, Valderamma, Pine Valley, St. Andrews… because those are all going to be once-in-a-life-time experiences, aren’t they? And, in Ireland, we are lucky to be blessed with links golf courses that rank among the world’s best. I think we forget that sometimes. For Americans coming to Ireland, we have a bucket-load of ‘bucket-list’ golf courses and, after making the commitment and the journey to get here, they’ll play those courses whether they’re paying €25 or €250.

Granted, some green fees climb a bit high, but that is the economics of supply and demand. If Royal County Down can fill the fairways with golfers willing to part with £185 (€250), then they have found the perfect balance. For those refusing to countenance such fees there are other ways to play the course at a lower green fee, such as at off peak times and through open competitions. Nearly every Irish golf club presents the golfer with such opportunities… and all it takes is a little digging to find the special deals. And don’t forget that most clubs offer special ‘GUI/ILGU’ rates.

Size, Shape & Scale

One of the things that is constantly overlooked in the ‘value’ debate is the cost of maintaining a golf course. This is not a tennis court, an athletics track or a football pitch. Maintaining such venues is easy and cheap compared to a golf course that typically covers over 100 acres (Killeen Castle in County Meath is spread over a 640 acre estate), includes thousands of trees or sensitive dune systems, lakes and rivers, and requires careful management of bunkers, grasses, greens, tee boxes and the many extras that go into making a golf course both attractive to the eye and to play. I’ve often wondered when someone complains about a green fee of €50 if they have any idea what goes into making their round of golf so idyllic.

It is no simple business and to maintain the standards that golfers expect and deserve requires considerable effort, dedication and resources – both financial and in terms of manpower.

To The Matter of Green Fees

It would be easy to list the rates of Ireland’s links courses and compare them to Carne’s, because Carne’s green fees are – in my opinion – the best on the island, and certainly the best of the premier Ireland golf courses… a group to which Carne definitely belongs.

If you look at the rates on the Carne website they range from €35 to €70. Now consider the two following
reviews before you think any further:

"Carne is absolutely brilliant. Front nine, back nine, every hole, every hill, every inch of the place is simply
special.” Tom Coyne,

“…the most astonishing, inspiring, natural course you are ever likely to see…” Keith Ging, Golf International

The current Golf World Ireland rankings (June 2015) lists Carne at 10th. At peak time, peak season, that €70 is starting to look like some serious value, isn’t it. Consider also that Carne is a links on a huge scale and playing it once simply doesn’t do it justice. Nor will a single round give you a full appreciation of what is required of you; played a second time you will feel better able to take on the many challenges and the remarkable landscape that leads you out to the Atlantic Ocean.

And let’s not forget the third ‘Kilmore’ nine. You’ll want to play those holes, believe me. All in all, it means you’ll want to be here for at least two days. I first played here with my father in 2006, and the wind changed direction over the two days, meaning we played completely different courses. On Day 1, the par three 14th, tucked up against the ocean, required a wedge; on Day 2 it was a full 5 iron. That’s the beauty of golf in the North West of Ireland… two days, two different courses.

Carne Special Deals

Carne also offers a variety of special deals. One of the most obvious (and relevant) is the ‘Stay & Play’ tie-in with two local Belmullet hotels: Broadhaven Bay and The Talbot. The deals start at €99 per person, for one night B&B with a round of golf. For €189 per person, you’ll get two nights B&B with one Dinner, and two rounds of golf.

Then there’s the Atlantic Coast Challenge, which offers the chance to play three of the North West’s finest links courses (Carne, Rosses Point and Enniscrone) Those are just two of the deals – keep an eye on Carne’s website and social media channels for additional offers.

I certainly believe that Carne offers some of the best value in the country but beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. You just have to weigh it all up and decide for yourself.

Posted by admin at Jun 22, 2016 Category: Other
Tags: bucket list golf courses, Carnes green fees, golf in the north west of ireland, links golf courses, premier Ireland golf courses