Ask any keen golfer which golf trips they have on their bucket list and Ireland is likely to feature pretty high up. Indeed, for many Americans, it may even rank above Scotland as being the spiritual home of the game.
My experience of Irish golf is fairly limited but, from what I have seen so far, I'm pretty sure I'll be back to drink at the trough a fair few more times.
Compared to Scotland it is probably a little harder to plan a golf trip to Ireland. The courses are a bit more spread out and as a result it's harder to cram in too much in a short period. Having said that, there are plenty of places to stop along the way to take in the local atmosphere and, as you would expect, the welcome will normally be a warm one.
There are a few different ways you can cut the country up for a manageable golf trip. You could stick to the north and take in County Down (brutal) and Portrush (a delight) as well as other courses with very strong reputations such as Lough Erne, Ardglass and Port Stewart.
Then there's the trip we did down to the south-west where Ballybunion, Doonbeg, Lahinch, Tralee and Waterville make a really strong line-up. There's some travelling involved to make this trip work - and what looks like a short journey on a map can take much longer to navigate - but the golf is truly world class.
Dublin is the other obvious place to base yourself with top quality courses like Portmarnock, the European Club, the K Club and Carton House.
If nightlife is one of your criteria then there are pros and cons to any of these but, frankly, you are never far away from a busy pub. Don't worry too much about the advertised closing times even in a sleepy village - they will more than likely lock the doors and keep serving you until you are ready to hit the hay!