For a small island sitting in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Europe, golf in Ireland plays an outsized role in the game. With over 400 golf courses in Ireland – including some of the world’s best – it’s no wonder nearly one-quarter million golfers from all over the world visit the Emerald Island every year.
From natural links courses to championship courses, from historic to new, many of the best golf courses in Ireland are found in spectacular locations. Read on to find out more about six of the top golf courses in Ireland.
Royal County Down
Royal County Down – founded in 1889 – in Newcastle ranks as the top course in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Its combination of natural bunkers, rolling fairways, and blind shots – all in one of the most spectacular golfing settings in the world, make it a course not to miss. Add ocean views and the Mourne Mountains in the background, and you’ve got one of the most famous golf courses in Ireland.
Ballybunion Old Course
One of Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s best courses, Ballybunion – dating from 1893 – sits on sandhills along the Atlantic in County Kerry. The first six holes ease you into a rollercoaster ride through the dunes and up to the clifftops. No less than Tom Watson says it’s the best course in the world.
Royal Portrush – Dunluce Course
With its rolling fairways and greens among the dunes and spectacular sea views – dating back to 1888 – Portrush is one exhilarating thrill after another. The legendary Harry Colt designed this natural links course in perfect harmony with the location – and created one of the world’s best courses in the process. Northern Ireland golf at its best.
In the United Kingdom, they call this a parkland course – that means it’s on the grounds of an enormous, old country house (Adare Manor in County Limerick). The best equivalent in the States is Augusta. Think pristine fairways, every green protected by bunkers, water, drop-offs, or a combination. Great visual drama and beauty combine for a superb playing experience.
Another clifftop course sitting right on the coast in Northern Ireland’s County Down, Ardglass, dates back to 1896. Play it for its meandering, adrenaline-fueled path taking you from clifftop to water’s edge. And don’t forget the oldest clubhouse in the world built in and around a 13th-century castle!
Portmarnock Red and Blue
Home to 19 Irish Open Championships, Portmarnock is considered one of Ireland’s most thoroughly challenging courses. Located on a gently-rolling sandy peninsula, Portmarnock is surrounded by water – with views out to the islands off the coast north of Dublin. Immaculately maintained and detailed, this course is a great testing ground!
A Few of the Best Golf Courses in Ireland
With over 400 golf courses in Ireland – many of them world-class – choosing only six is difficult, but these six show why the Emerald Isle is one of the world’s top golfing destinations. A golf trip to Ireland should be on your bucket list no matter which courses you play!
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