Royal Portrush
Credit: Donald Ford

McDowell grew up playing golf at Royal Portrush. "I'm born and bred there so I'm a little biased," he said of his first pick. "It's very approachable. You can go and tee it up there with your buddies anytime."

Founded in 1888, Portrush is the only club in Ireland to ever host an Open Championship – Max Faulkner won in 1951 – and one of the few to boast two eighteen-hole courses. The more famous course, the Harry Holt-designed Dunluce Links, is considered one of the best courses on the planet while Valley Links is more of a members’ stomping ground.

The club remains private, but McDowell says outsiders buying day passes find Portrush’s Irish hospitality hard to beat. It's a good thing too: Meteorological uncertainty is part of the challenge of old world golf. According to McDowell, that’s part of the reason to head to Portrush is that the club is something of an anachronism. "It's a great links course on the on the North Coast of Ireland," he explains. Enough said. [Weekend rounds from $290]