Getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life to indulge a passion for golf is many people's idea of bliss when it comes to booking a holiday. If you haven't done so already, consider a boating holiday in Ireland that will allow you to visit the renowned courses located close to the Shannon-Erne waterway.
Travelling by boat means you won't be based in just one location for the duration of your trip, giving you the flexibility to explore at your leisure and potentially visit places that are off the beaten track. In addition, you can do away with the often costly hotels attached to golf courses, which can help if you need to stick to a budget.
Ireland is well known for its excellent opportunities for teeing off - especially along the Shannon and Erne watercourses - so this is a great destination to choose for a golfing holiday. As you cruise, you'll be able to take in the lush rural landscapes, as well as stop off at interesting settlements along the route. This might be particularly appealing if you're travelling with others who aren't as keen to practise their swing as you are!
Begin your getaway at Carrick-on-Shannon, where you can make use of your golf clubs at an 18-hole course situated on the banks of Drumharlow Lake and the River Boyle. Initially, the greens incorporated just nine holes, but the number has doubled over the years. The first five and last four shots on the course are the originals. Among the most challenging holes is the 13th, which has a par of three and measures 200 m.
If you have time to visit another course on the same day, head to Strandhill or Rosses Point, as both take less than an hour to reach. You should also have a go at the other popular sport to participate in along Irish rivers - angling. Make your way to the fishery set in the heart of the nation's lakeland region and select a spot in the 20 acres of land and water, from where you can cast a line and potentially reel in bream, tench and carp.
When you decide to move on, the next port of call on your route may be Lanesborough. You'll be itching to test your swing at Glasson Golf Club, which played host to the European Challenge Tour in 2007 and 2008. Expect a high standard of golf along with challenging - albeit beautiful - conditions, as there's water on five of the holes. The course offers exceptional views of Lough Ree, however, and, as such, is among Ireland's most picturesque golfing spots.
A popular place to visit on a boating holiday along the Shannon-Erne Canal is Athlone. The capital of the midlands region, the town is a great place to stop at not only for its golf, but also for its rich history and culture. While you tee off on the greens at Hodson Bay - an 18-hole course established in 1894 - other members of your party might want to head to the eastern side of the Shannon and explore the ancient monastic site of Clonmacnoise, which is almost 1,500 years old. Head into town next and you can learn more about farm and folk culture with a trip to the Derryglad Folk Museum, or call in at the Norman castle to step back in time to 1210, when the fortress was erected.
Journey on to Boyle to test your skills at the nine-hole golf course, and, afterwards, head along the Shannon-Erne Canal to Ballyconnel, which is home to championship greens. The latter is a picturesque town renowned for its golf course, which is located in the grounds of the Slieve Russell Hotel. The parkland setting covers 300 acres of land and a further 50 acres of lakes, so you should expect a testing game. The area is also something of a coarse fishing centre, so have a go at the pastime if you feel like trying something new. Meanwhile, if you've got time for one final game to round off your Irish holiday for golfers, call in at Ballinamore, Leitrim, where you'll find a modern course with sand-based greens.