Every so often, when Shane Lowry returns to his home club, Esker Hills in Tullamore, he’ll hold a lucky dip. Members might end up with one of his polo shirts. Nice. Or they could pick out a pair of his socks – not so nice. It’s all good fun, however, which pretty much sums up life at Esker Hills – most enjoyable on and off the golf course.
I’ve come to Ireland to play three rounds of golf – not one of them a famous links. I arrive in a drizzly Dublin (obviously), but instead of heading towards the coast, I’m going to be travelling directly west for about an hour-and-a-half into the heart of the country – and my first stop is the delightful Glasson Lakehouse.
There’s no drizzle by this point, which is a shame, because I’d happily have sat in Tom’s pub all afternoon and listened to Seamus, our coach driver, deliver another perfect punch line, but I soon discover the good news that he’ll be joining our group for the duration of the trip, albeit not for the golf. So, and quite reluctantly after a flawless pint of Guinness, it’s off to the first tee we go.
Glasson is located on the banks of Lough Ree, the second of the great lakes on the River Shannon. The course was designed by Christy O’Connor Jnr – and it’s quite the place. On the front nine, you’re treated to some wonderful views of Lough Ree, and on the back nine stunning vistas of Killenure Bay.
A few years ago, work was carried out to renovate the final five holes to accommodate for a number of new lodges. I can’t comment on what the routing was like beforehand, but the current set-up is pretty spectacular. It’s got everything – a driveable par-4, a couple of long holes and a par-3 over water and reeds that has a hint of Hilton Head about it.
Portumna Golf Club is next on the itinerary, but not before we enjoy more fine hospitality at Glasson Lakehouse, specifically Bonnie’s Restaurant and then, rather predictably, at Tom’s pub. Yes, there’s a pub in the hotel. It’s a real pub, too, one with a proper atmosphere, not just a hotel bar.
With Argentinian grill dishes, succulent steaks, fresh fish and Irish flavours, Bonnie’s is a wonderful place to dine and spend an evening or two. You can also enjoy cocktails on the outdoor terrace, the perfect spot to unwind after golf or a day exploring the local area. With wonderful views of Killenure Bay, it’s no wonder Glasson…
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