Solo Golf Travel in Ireland

Traveling Solo & Playing Golf as a Single

People always say something close to, “You went to Ireland…by yourself?” It’s a statement of excitement that ends with a question mark. It’s not for everyone, but for me the only way I could swing it. I realize most people wouldn’t take a Transatlantic flight just to spend 74 hours abroad. Lahinch is booked for 2024 and will soon be taking tee times for 2025. Ballybunion had so many buses in the parking lot, it looked like a high school track meet. Old Head, Royal County Down, and the Island were all booked solid the week I was in Ireland. The only way I got on where I did was by flying solo and joining existing threesomes. Traveling by myself also makes the whole trip more of an adventure. Criss-crossing Ireland in a rented Skoda (?) 4-door, taking a car ferry for the first time, dodging sheep, and talking to strangers in a pub all add to the experience and have generated plenty of great pics and stories. Plus, I always get to choose where to eat dinner. The best part of being a single by far is who you get paired with.

Painted sheep grazing next to the road in Ireland.
Two of the flock of sheep that didn’t seem to care that I was late for a tee time.

While most people prefer to play with their regular foursome, I like to see who the universe pairs me with. While sometimes risky, it’s always interesting. My playing partners at Lahinch and Ballybunion proved the point. The father and son from Atlanta I played with at Lahinch were gracious, fun, and full of gratitude for playing a world top 100 course. It was their second 18 of the day but they were both all smiles, despite being a 10 handicap and scoring over 100 (the son) and finding every beautiful bunker on the course (the dad).

At Ballybunion Golf Club, I was paired with a husband and wife. When they dropped me off at the driving range and pointed to my group, I had a bit of trepidation thinking I was in for 18 holes of bickering and unsolicited husband-to-wife swing tips. What I got was one of the nicest couples I’ve ever been around. Welcoming, fun, funny, and happy together. They too were grateful to be there, playing a one-of-a-kind course on a beautiful Irish day. We talked Ireland, itineraries, kids, and courses. I truly enjoyed them as people for 18 holes and I was given a putting tip that was an infuriatingly simple fix, but I’m saving 3-4 putts a round.

The point is, I would never meet these people if I traveled by bus with three other foursomes from home. There are plenty of times to play with my friends. This is my chance to make some new ones.

The Encore: A Solo Scotland Golf Trip

The Ireland trip was so successful, I plan to repeat the adventure with a Scotland golf trip in 2024. I have tee times at North Berwick Golf Club (home to the original Redan hole) and with the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield. I also plan to hit Kingsbarns Golf Links and possibly Cruden Bay. I don’t have a tee time yet at the Old Course, despite three attempts. I’ll either go through a St. Andrews licensed partner or head from the pub to the pro shop to grab a single spot the next day. Again, something that would be a lot harder to do with a twosome or foursome.

I know traveling solo is not for everyone, nor is playing golf by yourself. I would urge you to get out and try a round by yourself and then spend some online research time looking through courses in your dream golf destination. If you haven’t played golf in Ireland or Scotland, those are definitely the places to start. To get in the mood, I would also strong suggest reading a few books on the subject.

A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee by Tom Coyne

A Course Called Scotland: Seaching the Home of Golf for the Secret to Its Game by Tom Coyne

Two Years in St. Andrews: Two Years at Home on the Old Course by George Peper

Reading Tom Coyne’s book on walking around Ireland (the country, not the courses) inspired me to book my golf trip to Ireland. His Scotland book, along with George Peper’s, helped me plan the Scotland golf trip I’ve always dreamed about.