It’s Irish Open Week, and to celebrate the biggest annual golf tournament to take place on these shores, we decided to look at 18 Irish golf courses that would make up the ultimate Irish golf round. So grab the clubs and hop in the car; you need to add these 18 courses to your Irish golf bucket list.
18 Great Irish Golf Clubs:
1 Royal Co Down, Down
Regularly voted among the top golf courses in the world, Royal County Down attracts golfers from all over the globe to tee off in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains. Voted the world’s best by Golf Digest in 2016 (beating Agusta National to the top spot), Royal County Down hosted the Irish Open in 2015, and is a regular practice course for some of the world’s best before the British Open.
The 9th hole at RCD (as it’s affectionately known to many) is one of the most-photographed golf holes in the world, with the impressive Mourne Mountains providing the perfect backdrop as you navigate through the bunker flanked green. A truly special golf course.
Check out the latest Down hotel deals and plan your trip to Royal County Down today.
2 Royal Portrush, Antrim
Staying in Northern Ireland, and next up is the iconic Royal Portrush, home of the 2019 British Open. This will be the second time the British Open has been held on these shores, with Portrush also playing host way back in 1951. With two courses to test your golfing ability on, including the famous Dunluce course, Royal Portrush is a must play for any Irish golfing fans.
The dogleg par 4 fifth hole at Royal Portrush is perhaps the most famous hole on the course, with an elevated tee leaving you to play out towards the ocean, before approaching the green with the majestic Dunluce Castle in the background (the Dunluce Championship course was named after the 13th-Century castle, recently named as one of the best views in Ireland in our recent blog).
Check out the latest Antrim hotel deals and plan your trip to Royal Portrush today.
3 Portstewart Golf Club, Derry
The venue for the 2017 Irish Open, Royal Portstewart is a 15-minute drive from Royal Portrush making this area a popular weekend holiday destination for Irish golfing enthuisasts (and indeed those from further afield). One of only a few golf clubs in Ireland with three 18 hole courses, it’s the Strand course at Portrush that you want to test your skills on. With impressive views of the North Coast from many holes, Portrush is home to one of the finest opening holes in Ireland, with wonderful scenery down the right hand side of ‘Tubber Patrick’.
View the latest Derry hotel deals and plan your trip to Portstewart Golf Club today.
4 Portmarnock, Dublin
Tiger Woods has referred to Portmarnock as “one of the most enjoyable links golf courses I have had an opportunity to play on”, while the great Gary Player explained Portmarnock was a “wonderful links golf course”. These guys know a thing or two about exceptional golf courses, and Portmarnock is certainly up there with the finest in Ireland.
A regular host of the Irish Open, and the venue for the 1991 Walker Cup, this links course located on Dublin’s coastline has plenty to offer. The 14th, 15th and 16th holes at Portmarnock provide three of the finest holes you will play anywhere in Ireland, so take your time and soak it all in.
Plan your golfing break to Portmarnock today by checking out the latest deals for hotels in Dublin city centre.
5 K Club, Kildare
Another of Ireland’s most famous golf clubs, not only has the K Club played host to numerous European Open tournaments and the 2016 Irish Open, it’s also the only golf course in Ireland to host the Ryder Cup, with a Darren Clarke-inspired Europe defeating USA here back in 2006. With two championship courses designed by the great Arnold Palmer, the K Club has built up a reputation in recent years as one of Europe’s finest golf courses. Located in the grounds of the 5-star K Club Hotel, book your stay today and enjoy a golfing experience that few in Ireland can compare with.
6 Lahinch Golf Club, Clare
Founded in 1892, Lahinch Golf Club is one of the finest links courses in Ireland and regularly listed among the country’s best. The course has been graced by some of the world’s best in recent years with Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Darren Clarke, Greg Norman and Padraig Harrington all enjoying a round in this picturesque County Clare course. Often described as the St Andrew’s of Ireland, Lahinch Golf Course is a must play for golfing fans driving along the Wild Atlantic Way. And when you’re finished, why not try your hand at surfing, another popular sport in the area?
View the latest deals for hotels in Lahinch and plan your Clare golfing break today.
7 Ballybunion Golf Club, Kerry
Ballybunion Golf Club is nature at its best, with limited man-made elements allowing the course to simply do its thing. Ballybunion’s Old Course is a regular in Golf Magazine’s list of the world’s best golf courses, and the course was also voted 17th in the world by Golf.com in 2016, highlighting the quality that this wonderful links course has to offer.
Founded in 1893, Ballybunion has attracted many top golfers over the years, despite its relatively remote location along the Kerry coastline. The 10th hole is once of the course’s iconic holes, so be sure to keep an eye out for this gem if you’re lucky enough to get along for 18 holes at Ballybunion.
Check out the latest Kerry hotel deals and plan your Ballybunion golf break today.
8 Old Head Kinsale, Cork
Few courses in Ireland can rival the Old Head of Kinsale on the south coast of Cork when it comes to the scenery. Teeing off at the Old Head will have you feeling like you are standing on the very edge of Ireland, and if the weather is against you, you’ll certainly know about it with your shots. On a clear day though, there are few courses in Ireland to rival the Old Head.
A truly breathtaking golfing experience, each hole has something different lying in wait. The 12th hole is considered by many to be one of the most intimidating courses in Ireland and you’ll be doing well not to go into the water, while the par three 16th will take your breath away.
9 The European, Wicklow
One of the more recent golf courses to be founded in Ireland, The European in Co Wicklow has managed to build a fantastic reuptation over the last 30 years, mainly thanks to its rather unique layout. The imposing dunes and strong coastal winds make The European a challenging course, although the par five 3rd and the dune-surrounded 14th are two holes with very little comparison anywhere else in the world.
Check out the latest deals for Wicklow hotels and plan your golfing break to The European today.
10 Waterville Golf Club, Kerry
Located on the banks of Ballinskelligs Bay in Co Kerry, Waterville provides a challenging yet enjoyable test of links golf, complete with rolling dunes, hard, narrow fairways, and, of course, unpredictable weather. Waterville has been graced by some of the world’s greatest golfers, with many of America’s best testing their skills on one of Ireland’s toughest links courses, often in preparation for the British Open.
Situated in the Ring of Kerry, Waterville has a statue of the late, great Payne Stewart who had accepted the captaincy of Waterville, his last golfing honour before his tragic death. A golf course that any Irish golf fans simply must play at least once in their life, although once you’ve experience Waterville, you’ll want to go back again and again.
View the latest deals for hotels in Kerry, and plan your next Kerry golf adventure today.
11 Druids Glen, Wicklow
Set against the backdrop of the Irish Sea and Wicklow mountains, there’s something magical about Druids Glen. The course hosted the Irish Open on four consecutive years from 1996 to 1999, with Colin Montgomerie (twice) and Sergio Garcia notable winners. Indeed, Druids Glen has earned a bit of a reputation as Ireland’s very own Agusta National thanks to its own ‘Amen Corner’ from the 12th to 14th holes, three holes that have ruined many a card. The 12th hole in particular is a popular one among players, thanks to the positioning of the ancient Druids altar behind the 12th green.
Check out the latest deals at Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort, and tee off at one of Ireland’s finest golf courses today.
12 Ballyliffin Golf Club, Donegal
Tee off from the most Northern golf course in Ireland by completing 18 holes at the popular Ballyliffin Golf Course. Boasting two championship courses (The Old Links and Glashedy Links), Ballyliffin Golf Club regularly features on lists of the top golf courses in Ireland, and plays host to the 2018 Irish Open, a first for Ballyliffin and indeed Donegal.
Located in the picturesque Inishowen peninsula, Ballyliffin is one of the finest links courses along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and with the Irish Open arriving in 12 months, it will no doubt start to become an even busier golf course, and one worth getting along to for a round. Once you’re finished, enjoy a drive around the Northern Headlands as you take in some of the spectaculy scenery of Ireland’s most northern peninsula.
13 Mount Juliet, Kilkenny
Opened in 1991 and designed by argueably the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Kilkenny is widely considered to be one of Ireland’s finest parkland golf courses. The host course of the Irish Open from 1993 to 1995, Mount Juliet has welcomed many of the world’s best golfers over the years, with Tiger Woods praising the perfect fairways.
Mount Juliet has many popular holes, but it’s the challenging final hole at 18 which really catches the eye. This long par four, with a narrow approach to the green, is sure to test the golfing ability and composure of even the most seasoned of golfers.
View the latest deals at Mount Juliet and plan your golfing break today.
14 Tralee Golf Club, Kerry
Designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer and opened in 1984, Tralee Golf Club has firmly established itself as one of Ireland’s finest and most challenging links golf courses. While the wild Atlantic coastline dominates much of the front nine, it’s the large sand dunes and tricky tee and pin postitions that will leave a big impression with you on the back nine (even if it does impact on your score).
There is a story behind so many holes at Tralee, with the 1st hole providing great views of the beach used in the 1970 movie Ryan’s Daughter, while the beach behind the 16th green was the location of the sinking of one of the vessels from the Spanish Armada back in 1588. It’s also a course steeped in legend: a big sandstone rock at the end of the wall running diagonally between the fourth and fifth fairways reportedly hurled by the mythical figure Cuchullain from atop Sliabh Mish, the mountain to the south of the course.
Check out the lastest Tralee hotel deals and book your golfing break today.
15 Adare Manor Golf Club, Limerick
Another popular parkland golf course, Adare Manor Golf Club is over 100 years old having started out as a nine-hole course in 1900. The course is currently going through a bit of a revamp with renowned golf architect Tom Fazio looking at the design of the course, with the greens and tee boxes being totally redsigned, so expect big things over the coming years from Adare Manor Golf Club and be sure to add it to your Irish golfing bucket list.
Owner JP McManus is keen to turn Adare Manor into one of the finest golf courses in Europe and one capable of hosting the Ryder Cup in years to come, so it’s clear to see that big changes lie ahead for this already popular parkland course.
View the latest deals for hotels in Limerick and plan your golfing trip today.
16 Carne Golf Links, Mayo
Located near the town of Belmullet, Carne Golf Links is a relatively new golf course along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, having been opened as a 9-hole course in 1992, and then an 18-hole course in 1993. Despite being a relatively new links course, Carne has managed to build a reputation as one of the finest golf courses in the north west of Ireland, with its mountainous dunes and rugged terrrain proving a true golfing test for those who take up the challenge.
Check out the latest Mayo hotel deals and plan your Carne golfing break today.
17 County Sligo Golf Club (Rosses Point), Sligo
Another challenging links course along Ireland’s north west coast, Rosses Point in Sligo boasts some of the finest greens in Ireland, with Golf.com claiming the greens are flawless and perhaps the most purest in Ireland. Awarded the links golf course of the year at the 2016 IGTOA Gala Irish Golf Awards, Rosses Point is sure to challenge you, with the 17th hole (the Gallery) in particular, just waiting for you to make a mistake. A stunning golf course that will leave you more than impressed.
View the latest deals for Sligo hotels and plan your Sligo golf break today.
18 County Louth Golf Club (Baltray), Louth
Last on our list is the Co Louth Golf Club, home of the historic 2009 Irish Open, the only Irish Open in the professional era that was one by an amateur, Shane Lowry. The Baltry is a special golfing experience, providing a serence atmosphere against the backdrop of the Irish Sea. With towering dunes, long holes, tricky greens, and the sort of rough you don’t want to be spending time in, the Baltray will push you to the limit, but the warm welcome that awaits you in the clubhouse will make your 18 holes well worth it.
Check out the latest Louth hotel deals and plan your east coast golfing trip today.
What is Your Favourite Irish Golf Course?
Have we missed your favourite Irish golf course from or list? Let us know your favourite Irish golf course and what makes it so special by commenting below.
Thinking about planning a golfing break around Ireland? Tie it in with other famous sites around the country and plan your itinerary by visiting our Drive Ireland website.
Images via Fáilte Ireland