With its spectacular scenery, lush parkland, rugged coastlines and legendary hospitality – it’s no wonder that Ireland is one of the top golfing destinations in the world. Ireland is blessed with an abundance of world-class golf courses so there’s something for all golfing enthusiasts. Here is our list of Ireland’s top ten courses…
Slieve Russel (Cavan)
The Slieve Russel Golf Course is found among the lakeland and drumlin valley district of Ballyconnell in County Cavan.
It’s one of the more “newer” golf courses on this list as it opened in August 1992 and almost immediately it became an attraction as one of Ireland’s top courses.
The parkland course was brilliantly designer by golf-course architect Patrick Merrigan and contains 300 acres of manicured gardens and 50 acres of lakes, so as you can imagine, water hazards are a major challenge on this course.
The course has played host to a number of prestigious golf tournaments such as the Irish PGA Championship in 1996, European Tour Events and the North West of Ireland Open in 2001/2002.
For more info check out the Slieve Russell website
Royal Portrush (Antrim)
The Royal Portrush Golf Course is another top golf course in Ireland and is located on the spectacular north coast of County Antrim. The course boasts a spectacular setting and is overlooked by the 13th century ruins of Dunluce Castle.
It has two challenging links courses – the Dunluce Links and the Valley Links. It has hosted the British Open, the North of Ireland Championship and the British Amateur Championship.
The Dunluce Golf Links was designed by Harry Colt and will put the most seasoned golfer to the test. The Valley Links lies between huge sands hills and some higher ground next to the shoreline. The course has its fair share of challenges with many elevated tees, menacing bunkers, sand hills and dunes.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are big fans of this course while it is classed as a favourite for Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke.
For more info check out the Royal Portrush Golf Club website
Ballybunion Golf Club (Kerry)
Ballybunion Golf Course is located in the stunning coastal resort of Ballybunion, County Kerry on the south coast of Ireland. This golf club has two courses – the new course which (also known as the Cashen Course) and the old course.
Ballybunion’s Old Course is a magnificent 18-hole golf course and is regarded to be one of the finest links courses in the world. In fact, this golf course is nearly always listed in the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World.
Famous visitors who have fell in love with this course include Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Phil Mickleson, Ian Woosnam and Vijay Singh (who has said that Ballybunion is his favourite course outside of the US!). Other famous personalities to have played there include Michael Jordan, Bill Murray and Bill Clinton.
Both courses are spectacularly located on sand dunes and boast some of the most breathtaking views of the Atlantic. Famous American golfer, Tom Watson once described the 11TH hole as “the best par 4 in the world”.
For more check out the Ballybunion Golf Club website
Druid’s Glen (Wicklow)
Druid’s Glen can be found in County Wicklow, nestled between the mountains and the sea, about 30km south of Dublin city centre. This classic parkland course is often referred to as “The Augusta of Europe” and the golf course especially comes into its own during the Summer months when the plants and flowers and in full bloom. The golfer will really feel a piece of heaven on earth here with its beautiful tricking streams, forests, flora and fauna.
In 2000/01, Druids Glen was awarded the title “European Golf Course of the Year” and it was the location of the Irish Open from 1996-1999.
Top golfers who have played here include; Ian Woosnam, Retief Goosen, John Daly, Jose- Maria Olazabal, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo.
Note: When on the 12th green – check out the pre Christian stone altar overlooking the green. It is believed to have been belong to Druids, hence the name of the golf course, Druid’s Glen!
For more info check out the Druids Glen website
Mount Juliet (Kilkenny)
Mount Juliet is located near Thomastown in County Kilkenny, just about a 20 minute drive from Kilkenny city. This 18-hole championship golf course was carefully designed by Jack Nicklaus and last year it claimed the title of “Best Parkland Course in Ireland” by Backspin Magazine.
Golfers of all abilities are put to the test on this stunning course with its bunkers, lakes and bridges. And if you need to brush up on your skills you can try out the driving range, the bunker and chipping green or the putting green.
Top professional golfers to have played here include; Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington.
The luxurious resort of Mount Juliet also offers a deluxe 4 star hotel, a leisure centre, a gym, a spa and other activities like archery and clay pigeon shooting.
For more info check out the Mount Juliet website
Killarney Golf & Fishing Club (Kerry)
This Killarney Golf & Fishing Club is blessed with a superb location at the edge of the stunning lake of Killarney with the McGillycuddy Mountain range providing a magnificent backdrop.
It can be found just outside the town of Killarney in County Kerry (on the Ring of Kerry road) and is one of the oldest golf courses in Ireland! This golf club has not one, but three championship golf courses, each providing its own unique challenges to the avid golfer.
Killeen is the main course at the club and is the most challenging. Lacabane is the newest golf course while O’Mahony’s Point is probably the most scenic.
Christy O Connor Sr, Nick Faldo, Darren Clarke, Bernard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal have all played at the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club.
For more info check out the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club website
Lahinch Golf Club (Clare)
Lahinch Golf Course boasts a breathtaking location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean near the picturesque village of Lahinch in County Clare. Often referred to as the “St. Andrew’s of Ireland”, it’s said to be one of the oldest golf courses in Ireland as it was founded in 1892.
Lahinch has two courses – the Old Course and the Castle Course and both provide a tough challenge for even the most intrepid golfer!
For more info check out the Lahinch Golf Club website
Portmarnock Golf Course (Dublin)
This gently undulating links course (27 holes) has a superb location in Portmarnock Dublin, just 8 miles north of Dublin city centre. This 18 hole links course was designed by Bernhard Langer and occupies a small peninsula which juts out into the Irish Sea.
The course is laid out fairly, with no tricks or surprises for the golfer with its gently undulating greens and low sand dunes. With the lay out of the golf course stretching across the curve of the peninsula, you’ll enjoy picturesque views from all greens.
This golf course has held a staggering 12 Irish Open Championships. It’s also been the venue for the Canada Cup in 1960 and the Walker Cup in 1991.
For more info check out the Portmarnock Golf Club website
The K Club (Kildare)
The K Club can be found in Straffan in County Kildare and is regarded to be one of the finest golf courses in Europe. Any big fan of golf will know that the prestigious K-Club golf resort took on a starring role when it was chosen as the venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup.
The K Club has two courses (Palmer Course and Smurfit Course) designed by Arnold Palmer who is regarded as one of the greatest golf players ever. The Palmer Course (also known as the Old Course) was the course chosen for the Ryder Cup. The Smurfit Course is an inland golf links with lots of lakes, islands and wild species of plants randomly planted throughout the course.
If you’re an golfing enthusiast then a visit to the hallowed turf of the Irish Ryder Cup is a must – the course is just about a 40 minute drive from Dublin city.
The luxurious K-Club Resort also boasts a 5-star hotel, a number of bars and restaurants and an exclusive spa.
For more info check out the K Club website
Royal County Down Golf Club (County Down)
This world class links course is located in Newcastle County Down, about 48km south of Belfast city in Northern Ireland. The course can be found at the foot of the majestic Mourne Mountains on the shores of Dundrum Bay.
The course lay out is challenging with its sandhills, bunkers, heather covered dunes and yellow gorse lined fairways. This is definitely a course to be played if you’re looking to test your skills with lots of blind shots and some of the fastest greens in Ireland. This course is definitely one of the top courses in Ireland and it’s also arguably one of the top golf courses in the world.
For more info check out the Royal County Down website
Have you played on any of these courses? Why not leave a comment and let fellow readers know about your golfing experience in Ireland. Please feel free to add more Irish golf courses to this list via the comment box below.
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