best golf courses in ireland

Best Golf Courses in Ireland

Everyone dreams of playing the legendary courses of Ireland.

Golf, as with most things pleasurable in life, is approached with a particular passion in Ireland. For many years visitors from both home and further afield have availed of the luxury of this particular pastime in the auspicious surroundings of the various Golf Clubs and courses.

So let’s take a look at what these have to offer.

The Royal Dublin Golf Club

Ireland’s second oldest golf club and one of the Ireland’s premier sporting theatres, Royal Dublin provides visiting players with a combination of a superb championship links course and a degree of hospitality that mirrors its historic development.

Founded at a meeting at No.19 Grafton Street in May 1885 initially the club was based in Dublin’s renowned Phoenix Park but as interest and membership grew a new home was sought. In 1889, after a brief sojourn in Sutton, the club moved to its present home at Bull Island.

It is arguable that the clubs origins and history stretch back to the early 1880’s when one Captain William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame, in constructing a sea wall to aid proper shipping access to Dublin, created a sand bank where Royal Dublin enjoys its unique location today.

As with all great clubs, Royal Dublin has the amenities to match its course. Visitors are warmly welcomed and will find the club easy to access, being a mere fifteen minutes from the centre of Dublin. To ensure that your day goes as smoothly as it can, a time-sheet is in operation when your booking is made.

The K Club

Image result for golf courses irelandThe K Club was designed by Arnold Palmer and has a par of 72. Covering 220 acres of prime Kildare woodland and featuring 11 lakes and the River Liffey, the course gives all players a demanding game – a golfing dream.

The river Liffey divides to from the tiny island of Inismor, just below the terraced approaches to the 19th Century Straffan House. The river, made famous in the writings of James Joyce, is just one of 11 splendid water features which Arnold Palmer embodied into his design. When planning the course, the great American golfer said he looked forward to making the course “a blend of pleasure, skill and challenge”. He has provided up to 4 boxes at most tees, with the back tees providing a real championship test.

The ancient estate parkland over which the fairways roll is adored with magnificent mature trees and exotic plants, providing visual splendour and a great golfing challenge. Overlooking all, is the opulent and elegant Staffan House, the home of the luxurious Kildare Hotel and Country Club. The course opened in 1991 and todate has hosted the Irish Professionals P.G.A Championships and the Jonny Walker P.G.A Cup 1992. The club hosted the European Open in 1995.

Ballybunion Golf Club Old/Cashen

An American golfing aficionado thought so much of Ballybunion Golf Club that on his deathbed he ordered his body to be flown from Los Angeles for burial in the graveyard beside the first tee at the famous Old Course. That last request underlines the captivating spell cast over all those blessed with the fulfillment of having made the pilgrimage to one of the world’s greatest links.

The legendary Majors champion Tom Watson, and the renowned course architect Robert Trent Jones are prominent among the many admirers. “Playing Ballybunion is similar in many respects to playing Cypress Point in America and I like that style of golf,” says Watson.

There appears to be no man-made influences and Ballybunion is a course on which many golf architects should live and play before they build golf courses,’ adds the giant of golf, who many times practiced at his most loved Irish course before winning some of his five British Open titles.

With possibly a more dramatic setting than its older brother and bigger dunes and carries required to round this course near par, it is a fitting companion to one of the world’s leading courses. The upshot is that Ballybunion today is now a world-renowned golf complex of 36 of the finest links land holes you will encounter in any one place

Waterville Golf Club

Links land is a geological rarity. Less than one percent of all courses in Europe are championship links. Waterville is honoured to be included among the very best of these in a prestigious Golf World survey.

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It is one of the oldest Irish clubs, having been founded in 1897 with the arrival of the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable from the United States. After 80 years of play, the original nine hole course was redesigned by the famous Irish golf architect, Eddie Hackett and the late owner, John A. Mulcahy.

Today Waterville is truly mystical. The course gradually introduces the player to its special tempo and rhythm and concludes with a symphony of links beauty. From Henry Cotton to Ray Floyd, all have praised its perfection.

The clubhouse is unique with ocean vistas, golf art, antique memorabilia and the warm ambience of its members. The restaurant and pub feature fresh seafood, Irish fare and the best pint in Kerry, all served by the glow of turf fires.

The Links resort includes Waterville House, the owner’s residence and a four star 18th century manor. Guests enjoy preferential access to the Links and one of the finest salmon and trout fisheries in Ireland.

St Margaret’s Golf Club

The Women’s Irish Holidays Open was hosted by St Margaret’s in 1994. This exciting Parkland course provides a challenge to golfers at all levels and is situated just 10 minutes from Dublin Airport and 20 minutes from Dublin.

“The best finishing hole I have ever seen and probably the strongest and most exciting in the world.” Said Sam Torrence, while Laura Davies, the worlds No. 1 enthused. “A great course… I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

Course designers Tom Craddock and Pat Ruddy have created a course renowned for its challenging water hazards, huge undulating greens and contoured fairways. Little wonder that St Margaret’s has been elevated into the top rank of Irish Golf Courses within a few short years.

Royal Portrush

When the club was formed in May 1888, it was known as the Country Club. It became the Royal Country Club in 1892, when H.R.H. The Duke of York was its patron. Finally the name was changed to “The Royal Portrush Golf Club” in 1895 with H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as patron.

Royal Portrush was the venue for the first professional tournament in Ireland in 1895 and in the same year the first ever Ladies Championships were held.

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Royal Portrush has hosted its fair share of world class professionals. Peter Allis, Larry Mize and Tony Jacklin, the former European Team Ryder Cup Captain, are only three of a long list of golfers who have walked the Valley and Dunluce Links.

They experienced the excellent variety of greens and fairways and in many instances fell foul of the many hazards and traps on this unique course.

Royal Portrush has been portrayed by many golfers as one of the most challenging courses in the world. It is a testing course yes, requiring skill and concentration, but set in one of the most scenic parts of Europe.

Royal County Down Golf Club

Golf might well have remained a minority sport in Ireland had it not been for a go-ahead railway company official, who exploited the unknown fishing village of Newcastle Co. Down.

Joseph Tatlow was the enterprising manager of the old Belfast and Co. Down Railway, and it occurred to him that, since the Belfast Golf Club was proving such a curiosity, another club somewhere along the line would be a big boost for business. Little could he have realised that he was to inspire the creation of a golf club that would attract people to travel from all over the world.

Founded in 1889, the second oldest club in Northern Ireland has long been revered as one of the world’s classic links. “Exhilarating even without a club in your hand”, it was intuitively observed, in respectful recognition of a course essentially laid out by Old Tom Morris and later approved by Vardon and then by Colt.

According to the early minutes of the club, Morris was adjured not to let his costs exceed four guineas (£4.20). Considering his artistic expression in such a setting, the present generation is left bewildered by the massive sums of money now expended in the creation of courses.

Mount Juliet Golf and Country Club

Mount Juliet’s superb 18-hole golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus, and has been the chosen venue for many prestigious golfing events including the Irish Open.

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The course boasts a cleverly concealed drainage and irrigation system, perfect even when inclement weather would otherwise preclude play, and takes every advantage of the estates mature landscape to provide a world class 72-par challenge for professionals and high-handicap golfers alike.

A unique three-holed golfing academy has been added to offer both novice and experienced players ample opportunity to improve their games, while a new 18-hole putting course provides extra dimension.

Old Head Golf Links

The Old Head Golf Links is one of the most remarkable developments ever conceived in the history of golf: an Atlantic promontory that will never be rivalled in terms of drama and beauty.

It rises hundreds of feet high above dramatic cliffs, surrounded by the ocean on all sides and commanding the most spectacular views from every part. The Old Head is ideally located on the South coast of Ireland, a 30-minute drive from Cork International Airport, and within striking distance of the renowned courses of South-West Ireland.

The course was designed by a combination of Ireland’s golfing heroes and recognised international contemporary design experts led by Joe Carr, Ron Kirby, Paddy Merrigan and the late Eddie Hackett. It opened in June 1997 to international acclaim.

Slieve Russell Golf Club

The championship golf course at the Slieve Russell opened in August 1992, and has become one of the very top golfing venues in Ireland. It is now being compared to some of the great courses world-wide. No less a person than Christy O’Connor Senior showered lavish praise on the course, when he stated “I would pay no better tribute to the course at the Sleive Russell, than to say, the more often I play it, the more it reminds me of Gleneagles”.

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Forming part of the 300 acre estate, including 50 acres of lakes, the unique style of the Slieve Russell course is sensitively wrapped around the lakes drumlins of the County Cavan landscape. Multiple tree positions facilitate all categories of golfing ability with the championship tees demanding strategic shot making.

The 18 hole course is complemented by a putting green, practice area and a nine hole par 3 course. Our exclusive clubhouse facilities professional shop, fully equipped locker rooms, club and baggage store, and the Summit Bar and Restaurant with its panoramic views of the course.


Powerscourt is a free draining course with links characteristics. Built to championship standard, with top quality tees and exceptional tiered greens, it is set in some of Ireland’s most beautiful parkland.

The course has an abundance of mature trees and natural features, with stunning views to the sea and the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Powerscourt is simply an exceptional experience for all golfers.

Powerscourt is a wonderful course for group golf events. Enjoy the competitive spirit of a professionally organised competition for your golf society or corporate golf day. From 20 to 120 players, we know how you make your day a memorable success.

Portmarnock Golf Links

When St. Marnock established his Monastery on the east coast of north County Dublin he could not have forseen that his name would be dedicated to a Mecca of golf, rather than an ecclesiastical institution.

The Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links is the first golf course International Management Group (IMG) developed in Ireland, as part of its medium term plan to develop tournament standard golf courses throughout Europe.

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The strategic location of the course (only 15 minutes from Dublin Airport and 25 minutes from Dublin’s city centre) combined with the perceptive planning by Bernhard Langer in association with Stan Eby of European Golf Design; provide all the necessary ingredients for the links purist.

A leading Golf Architect, after playing the links was moved to say: “when God was making the World he laid out the dunes and terrain so that one day a great Golf Links would be sited here.” Bernhard Langer has certainly accomplished this feat in a refreshing new golf creation.

Dooks Golf Club

Golf has been played in Dooks since 1889. It was introduced to the local aristocracy by officers from the Royal Horse Artillery attending compulsory training at nearby Glenbeigh Artillery Range.The golf course is set out on one of three stretches of sand-dunes at the head of Dingle Bay.

In the immediate foreground are the sand-dune peninsulas of Rossbeigh and Inch and just a few miles away the whitewashed houses of Cromane fishing village provide an eye-catching distraction. South-eastwards are the famed MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, to the Southwest are the lovely cooms and hills of Glenbeigh and across the bay to the north are the Slieve Mish and Dingle mountains.

And so for the golfer who is seeking a beautiful and tranquil environment to enjoy good golf, Dooks presents a convincing case. Hole number 13 best illustrates the charm and the magic of Dooks. It is a throw back hole to the time when golf began. Greens lay where they fell and were the better for it.

Dromoland Golf Club

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What more dramatic a backdrop could there be to this most challenging and enjoyable golf course than the world renowned five star Dromoland Castle Hotel. The golf course is situated on 400 unspoilt acres of lush wooded parkland enhanced by the gently flowing River Rine which becomes a feature for three of the many beautiful holes on this course.

The natural terrain of the landscape poses a considerable challenge to even the lowest handicap, with a profusion of yawning water hazards and concealed bunkers.

An 18 hole course since 1961, Dromoland Castle is rapidly earning an enviable reputation both for quality of golf and for the splendidly refurbished castle hotel. The golf course is a mere 10 minutes drive from Shannon Airport.

Druids Glen Golf Club

Druids Glen lies between the Wicklow Hills and the Irish Sea, only twenty miles south of Dublin – a half hours drive. It is the home of, arguably, the finest parkland course in Europe.

Designed by Tom Craddock and Pat Ruddy, it is the culmination of years of preparation and hard work – and a commitment on the part of the owners of Druids Glen to creating a unique inland golf course, one which challenges and satisfies in equal parts.

The owners and designers were greatly aided by their chosen location, four hundred acres of gently rolling, wooded countryside, in one of Ireland’s most beautiful counties. Golfing perfection was achieved whilst remaining faithful to the graceful maturity of the original estate and it’s wildlife.