Top Irish Golf Courses

Top Irish Golf Courses

Golfing and Ireland have seldom had a higher profile in the public eye largely due to the combined efforts of Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington. But the golfing cognoscenti have always been aware that Ireland is a golfers’ paradise, with seaside links courses offering a unique brand of golf harking back to the game’s ancient roots.

Ireland can lay claim to one-third of all the genuine links courses in the world – they’re dotted like diamonds in an emerald necklace along the coast-line. Four courses – Royal County Down, Waterville, Ballybunion and  Tralee have all been ranked in the world’s Top 50.

If parkland playing is more to your liking Ireland’s courses are regularly used by the world’s top players. Of course your game may be more exacting than say the likes of Phil Mickelson or Lee Westwood. No problem – the real beauty of Irish golf is that there are so many courses of outstanding quality offering a wide variety of challenges.

Ballybunion Old Course

Ballybunion Golf Course

Hit the ball (extremely) wrong and watch disappear into the Atlantic. The layout of this course right next to the ocean seems more natural than designed. Prepare for a golfing experience that takes you “back to the roots” of the sport. Just a word of warning though: For dedicated golfers wishing to spend more than one day there is an adjacent second course the “Cashen Course”, designed by Robert Trent Jones. [More Information on Ballybunion Old Course]

Ballyliffin (Glashedy)

These are Ireland’s most northerly links, nestled in dramatic landscapes and often sporting no less dramatic skies. Glashedy Course was designed by Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock and is regarded as one of the best courses in the British Isles by experts. The neighbouring Old Course is still in use, it challenges players with very irregular fairways. [More Information on Ballyliffin]

Ballyliffin Golf Course

Druids Glen

A landscaped course designed by Pat Ruddie and Tom Craddock on the Woodstock Estate roughly 25 miles south of Dublin. It is known as an “extremely tough course” with a definite need for spot-on accuracy. Nearby Druids Heath is also worth a visit. [More Information on Druids Glen]

The K Club

The K Club Golf CourseThough famed for its “pretty ponds”, Tiger Woods would see those as an unnecessary feature after the Ryder Cup 2006. The course is also hailed as “Arnold Palmer’s Jewel”, the landscaping involved moving millions of tons of soil. Apart from having numerous ponds, the K Club is also next to the Liffey, making it advisable to bring plenty of balls. [More Information on The K Club]


Lahinch is sometimes known as the “St Andrews of Ireland”. The golf course was established in the 19th century and was designed by Old Tom Morris. The blind shots of “Klondyke” and “The Dell” are definitely unusual today. Comprehensively redesigned by Dr. Alister MacKenzie in 1927, the course is built between dunes where resident goats roam freely. Lahinch these days is also known as a surfer’s paradise. [More Information on Lahinch]

Mount Juliet

Mount Juliet Golf CourseThis course was designed in the 1990s by Jack Nicklaus and as “American” as is possible. It is also  regarded as the best of the newer courses by some experts. On the other hand this almost perfect course makes for uninteresting play in the eyes of critics. The course is sometimes seen as being interchangeable and not “Irish”, but the very exclusive country club atmosphere tends to make up for this perceived shortcoming. [More Information on Mount Juliet]

Portmarnock Golf Club

The course is surrounded by the sea on three sides and only ten miles from Dublin’s city center. The clubs greatest hazard is long gone, the now legendary cow of Maggie Leonard who managed to swallow hundreds of golf balls. Regarded as true links golf course it requires a creative attitude to play. [More Information on Pormarnock Golf Club]

Royal County Down

Royal County Down Golf CourseRoyal County Down is ranked in the top five courses of the world. It is situated on Dundrum Bay near the Mountains of Mourne. The course was originally laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1889 and despite many changes still allows “old school” play. Expect traditional links with undulating greens, tight fairways and deep bunkers, all spiced up by strong winds. [More Information on Royal County Down]

Royal Portrush (Dunluce)

This course is set into the dunes and often blessed with a bracing breeze straight from the sea. The club was founded in 1888 and is located near the Giant’s Causeway. This is, and will for some time will be the only Irish course to stage the British Open. The course itself needs very accurate driving and is geared towards the technically excellent player. [More Information on Royal Portrush]

Royal Portrush Golf Course

Killarney Golf & Fishing Club

Killarney Golf & Fishing Club is one of the oldest, well established and internationally recognisable Clubs in Ireland. It has a membership of over 1,700 members from all over the world and the Club’s location is one of the most enviable in the World. In 1893 when the Club was founded it was another matter, forty members formed the Club paying an annual subscription of 10 shillings each. [More Information on Killarney Golf Course]

Tralee Golf Club

Tralee Glof courseThis stunning setting represents a true paradise for those willing to challenge what is widely acclaimed as one of the finest links courses in the world. Arnold Palmer would later go on record with this memorable quote: “I may have designed the first nine, but surely God designed the back nine”. It comes as no surprise to learn that, due to the majestic beauty of its setting, Palmer choose to be his first and perhaps his finest golf course designed in Europe. Tralee in addition to boasting a clear view of the Atlantic Ocean from every hole, has a fully qualified resident professional, fully stocked Pro Shop, a spacious and comfortable restaurant and bar and  has earned a reputation for having a most friendly and relaxed atmosphere for members and visitors alike. [More Information on Tralee Golf Club]

Old Head Golf Course

Old Head Golf Links is built on a 220-acre diamond of land, jutting out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The promontory is almost an island with numerous caves running beneath your feet as you play the course. The links and practice area occupy 180 acres and the remaining 40 acres of unspoilt cliff (rising in places to over 300 feet) frame the course. [More Information on Old Head Golf Course]

Old Head Golf Course

Waterville Golf Course

Golf at Waterville is a mystical experience – the beauty of classic links land, surrounded by the sea  forever challenged and shaped by the elements. Over 100 years old, Waterville is rated among the top 5 courses in Ireland and the top 20 links courses in the world. Links golf combines sand dunes, gorse, native grasses, firm fairways, sod faced bunkers and subtle putting surfaces all intertwined with the ever-changing weather. Forget the lob wedge, think bump and run and creative shot making. Are you ready to walk in the footsteps of Ireland’s earliest golfers? [More Information on Waterville Golf Course]

The Island Golf Club

The Island Golf Club is a unique championship  links course. Although a mere 15 minutes from Dublin airport, it enjoys a peaceful setting and is bordered by the sea on three sides. Founded in 1890, it is constantly rated among the top courses in Ireland. Until 1973 it was reached by boat from across the estuary at Malahide, just north of Portmarnock.  Martin Hawtree has recently made course design changes ensuring that its true nature and character are enhanced. [More Information on The Island Golf Club]

The Island Golf Course