Best Golf Courses in Ireland

Royal County Down Golf Club, Northern Ireland

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all! In honor of Ireland’s most notable day from guide to the Best Golf Courses in Ireland in no particular order since it’s impossible to pick the best, the top golf courses in Ireland:

1. Royal Portrush located 1.5 hours north of Belfast on the Antrim Coast and is the site of the only British Open played in Ireland won by Max Faulkner in 1951. The terrain, when compared to other classic links courses is somewhat sedate, moderate with the unique character of each hole, add to the challenge and the magnificence of the course, and it’s beautiful setting just away from the Giant’s Causeway

2. Royal County Down is one hour south of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The club was founded in 1899 and the Board commissioned Old Tom Morris to design the course for a fee “not to exceed £4, about $8 in today’s valuation. The members got a bargain. The setting of the course is stunning, below the Mourne Mountains and the tallest peak in Northern Ireland, the Slieve Donard. It’s a picture postcard setting for a golf course, maybe one of the best in the world. 

3. The European Club is set on a series of dunes, fashioned from time on the Irish Sea, 40 miles south of Dublin. It has has slender fairways, a few blind shots and a collection of superb par 4′s. It also has 20 holes, and why not, Pat Ruddy, architect and owner, said “we had enough land, and we’re here to play golf aren’t we?”

4. Waterville Golf Club originally opened in 1973 and designed by Eddie Hackett, with later revisions to mostly the front nine of more character and contouring by Tom Fazio. It’s at the bottom of the Ring of Kerry about an hour from Killarney, and takes a bit to get there but the drive and the course are well worth it. The course has an American syle to it but features some dune play characteristic of many SW Ireland courses. 

5. Ballybunion Golf Club is located southwest of Shannon and Limerick on the County Kerry coast, has two 18 hole courses, the Old and Cashen, where golf has been played since 1893. It’s ground is classic linksland, rolling and tumbling sandhills at the intersection of where River Shannon enters the Atlantic Ocean. The Old Course ia routed through the sand hills on the shoreline, some holes actually feel like the fairways are tunneled through the dunes, there’s only 64 bunkers, mostly small, and only a few blind shots, Tom Watson’s, and most other’s golfers most favorite golf course in the world.

6. Carne Golf Links is located in County Mayo, western Ireland, was designed by Eddie Hackett and is routed through sand dunes overlooking Blacksod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean near Belmullet. It compares favorably to the landscapes of the great Ireland links courses, County Down, European Club, and even Ballybunion, but doesn’t possess the pedigree. The land is rolling and tumbling linksland with greens on natural plateaus or coves, untouched by the architect’s hands, in a fully natural setting….all 27 holes!! 

7. Lahinch Golf Club was originally designed by Old Tom Morris with numerous revisions by Alister Mackenzie, Charles Gibson, and John Burke. Remodels completed in the last few years have brought the course back to its original layout. There’s some quirky holes, but that’s the magic of links golf isn’t it? 

There’s 20+ more courses in Ireland which deserve to be mentioned in the same vein as those above, what’s your favorite?

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