Waterville Golf Links
Credit: Torsten Andreas Hoffmann / Getty Images

Many Irish courses offer beauty that can overwhelm the senses, but McDowell says the southwest coast's Waterville Golf Links stands out. "You're just so far out there on the west coast you feel like you're on another planet," he says. "It's just a great part of the world.

Organized golf began in Waterville around 1898. But the course as it is known today wasn't laid out until the sixties, when John A. Mulcahy, Eddie Hackett, and Claude Harmon came to town. Today, golfers face many tests at Waterville: fairways that play firm and fast, ball gobbling sand dunes, thick fescue grasses, sod faced bunkers, and nasty Irish wind.

McDowell says that the club offers more than a challenge. It's bar has "great Guinness." [Rounds from $220]