Question of the Week

Pick one: Scotland or Ireland

If you had a choice between playing golf in Scotland or Ireland, which would you pick?

Morning Read contributors John Hawkins and Mike Purkey recently debated their favorite bucket-list destination if the choice was between Ireland and Scotland. Hawkins chose the Emerald Isle, while Purkey chose Scotland. Which would you choose and why?

Please email your response to editor Stuart Hall. In order to publish, please include your first and last name, along with your city and state of residence.

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I have played fairly extensively in both countries. They are each wonderful, but I have to choose Ireland because the whole Irish experience is just so great.

J, Richard Ryan
Palm Desert, Calif.

Ireland.

My buddy had already been to both places and recommended Ireland, as it is cheaper, less crowded and has comparable courses. We went and played Ballybunion (both Old and Cashen), Tralee, Waterville, Old Head (twice), and Lahinch. Just stunning — the courses, the staff, the local players, the caddies, the public, the bars, the restaurants, the scenery between courses, etc. I was made to feel — consistently — like I was not a tourist. That they were happy to get to know me. So generous and fun. The golf courses were spectacular — I still have many scenarios and shots etched into my brain forever. Don’t miss Ballybunion, Tralee and Old Head on your “Southwest Ireland” tour.

The key here may be local players. Only once did we play with non-Irish. Why go all the way to Ireland (or Scotland) and play with other rich, yuppie Americans? My local playing companions taught me how to hit the ball low into a gale wind on my first nine holes. Spectacular scenery and spectacular people. Just take a good rain suit.

Hoyt Maulden
Fredericksburg, Va.

That's a tough one. Living in the south of England, I can drive to either in a day — with a ferry crossing in Ireland's case.

Twice I have had the chance to play in Ireland — once, fifty years ago, my fiancee stole the week so I had to go on my honeymoon instead. A quarter century later, I gave the job of organixing a trip to someone who was preparing to move there to live and he put together such a horrendous itinerary — coast to coast plus 36 holes for five solid days — that I ducked out. So, I would love to go there.

But, I have travelled up to the original home of golf a few times and was due to play in the national tournament of my old employer at Dalmahoy in June, with a first-ever game on the Old Course in prospect on the way. That's been postponed or possibly cancelled, hopefully to be played in the autumn or next year. It's the first cancellation on its 50th anniversary and my 47th year of playing, including Royal Lytham twice, Royal Birkdale, Turnberry and Carnoustie. So that's the one I regret most, of course.

Hopefully I'll get to do both and report back.

Terry Wall
Winchester, England

Ireland. In one trip we played Old Head, Waterville, Lahinch, Tralee, Ballybunion (old), Connemara and Killarney Country Club. Scenic, accesible, affordable. No where near the cost of a Scotland trip. I will go back 100 times before I go to Scotland.

Tom Dwyer
Jackson, Mich.

Ireland. Better assortment of courses. And the caddies make the day.

Larry Guli
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Picking between these two locations for a golf trip would be like picking between Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson for a date — for those of us old enough to know who these two women are. Either one would be just fine.

Mark Smolens
Elmhurst, Ill.

I have only played 3 courses in Ireland — Tralee, Old Course at Ballybunion and Lahinch. Tralee the most enjoyable.

I have visited Scotland 12 times, and prefer Scotland courses, largely because of Cruden Bay and The Old Course, which are my two favorites, in that order. Kingsbarns was the prettiest; Carnoustie was the hardest; and Turnberry was lovely. The thing I like about Scotland is that there are many really good courses that are not scary expensive, such as Royal Montrose and Ladybank.

Larry Armatage
Burlington, Ontario

I would choose Ireland because I think it is more beautiful and not as over-hyped, therefore less crowded.

Bill Peterson
Provo, Utah

While maybe not the best reason in the world, but I would pick Ireland since I have played a number of historic courses in Scotland and England, but only had the chance to play once in Ireland.

Having said that, given the chance, I would jump at any opportunity to play in either country.

Rick Gray
The Villages, Fla.

No place can be more wonderful to play than Scotland, the home of golf, the place that started the game that we all hold dear in our hearts. For me, to play St. Andrews would give me an overwhelming feeling. As though I am walking on sacred ground where the champion Golfer of the Year has been crowned for eons. No contest, Scotland.

Dan Nunley
Titusville, Fla.

Scotland it is.

Bill Bamber
Edmonton, Alberta

I’ve been to Ireland six times and Scotland three.

The golf is fairly similar, however, in my opinion, the worst course in all of Scotland is St. Andrews Old — played three times. It is easy, painfully slow and boring. I’m a 4 index and unless there were gale-force winds I couldn’t possibly balloon to 80, which is something I couldn’t say for the rest of the courses on most bucket lists.

That said, Scotland has many fine courses my favorite being North Berwick followed by Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. I’ve played inland and around the entire coast of Ireland and like Scotland the golf is a superlative experience.

Now it comes down to the people. England and Wales are reserved, yet warm and have a dry, but good, sense of humor. The Scots are a wee bit more outgoing, much more relaxed and in no rush to do anything. The Irish are flat out insane and I mean that in the most complimentary manner possible. They live in a world where nothing is as important as we may think it is and truly believe that no matter the current crises everything will be fine. It’s hard not to love the Irish.

Warning: Should you offer to take your caddies to the pub for a post-round Guinness they will stay all night as long as you’re paying, which by the way is well worth the price of admission. And don’t worry they will make it to the tee on time the next day ... barely.

Final answer: Both are great.

David McGee
Peterborough, Ontario

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