There are plenty of excellent golf courses in Ireland. So many that it can be difficult deciding which one to play first. We’ll show you the 15 best courses in Ireland and what makes each one special.
The 15 Best Golf Courses in Ireland in 2023
Golf in Ireland is the ultimate destination for all golf fanatics. Its fascinating history, stunning views, and worthwhile challenges make it the perfect place to experience the game.
However, it can be challenging to decide which spot to go to first. Below, we’ll uncover the 15 best golf courses in Ireland and why you will want to visit them all.
1. Royal Portrush
Royal Portrush offers picturesque views of the northern parts of Ireland, where you can see the North Atlantic of Donegal and Scotland. The course hosted the Irish Open in 2012, in which Jamie Donaldson earned first place.
Not only does the course throw challenging rough in your direction, but it also demands tough tee shots. The Valley Links and Dunluce Links will test your analytical skills on the greens.
2. Royal County Down
Located in the Murlough Nature Reserve, Royal County Down offers some of the best natural beauty in Ireland. As you hit your shots, you can marvel at the picturesque Mountains of Mourne backdrop.
The golf courses also expand along Dundrum Bay’s shores. The various holes zig-zag to establish a unique path.
Royal County Down’s bearded bunkers are a staple here at this course that is surrounded by heather and fescue. The firm greens will roll extremely fast and present a strong challenge for the bump and run shot.
3. Lahinch Golf Club
Lahinch Golf Club showcased a pair of the most beautiful holes in the world. Stories of great rounds of golf from Lahinch originate all the way back in 1892. Golfers have enjoyed playing next to Wild Atlantic Way for over a century now.
The MacKenzie course received a fresh new redevelopment in 1999, thanks to Martin Hawtree. As a result, modern golfers enjoy a worthy challenge on modern grounds.
On the other hand, the Castle Course offers a fresh breath. It is the easier of the two. The course designers also made sure to throw in balanced obstacles of sand and water, which all players will look forward to attacking.
4. Portmarnock Golf Club
Founded in 1894, Portmarnock Golf Club played an impactful role in the rise of golf in Ireland.
These beautiful courses hosted several events, including the Walker Cup, Irish Open Championships, the British Amateur Championship, and the Irish Amateur Close Championship.
Because it is located in the north Dublin Peninsula, many golf legends have taken a stab at this fair links course. There are no tricks or nuances, but the course demands precise consistent shot-making capabilities.
5. Waterville Golf Links
Waterville Golf Links is one of the most prestigious courses in Ireland, located in the vibrant Ring of Kerry. It was designed by architect Eddie Hackett, and each hole delivers a challenge.
Many golfers are fascinated with the par-3 17th hole tee box, which towers 250 feet above sea level with a view of the Atlantic.
The par-5 11th hole is also a unique obstacle. The par 5 slithers through a gauntlet of massive dunes and straw grass. Every golfer who visits this course will discover a serene, refreshing challenge.
6. The European Club
Located in the pleasant southeast corner of Ireland, the European Club is a 7000-yard monster with welcoming challenges. The European Club is a celebratory tradition in Irish Golf because it also offers unconventional 19th and 20th holes.
What makes the European Club so special are its individual hole challenges and difficulty. The par-4 7th hole is one of the most talked-about holes in the golf world.
There are sandy dunes that spread to the right, including thick rough to the left. The challenging approach shot will require a strategic bump and run shot. Most of the courses will demand similar challenges.
7. Tralee Golf Club
If your group’s golf trip targets the southwest section of Ireland, you must visit Tralee Golf Club. Located in County Kerry, this Arnold Palmer creation provides the ultimate links golf experience.
The natural images and views make this an inviting golf course and the nature is breathtaking.
There are holes where you will tee off just a few feet away from the Atlantic Ocean. Around the perimeter of the course, you can enjoy the view of the ocean while maneuvering through high sand dunes.
8. County Sligo Golf Club
County Sligo Golf Club is a renowned championship links golf course. The course is near the seaside village of Rosses Point, referred to as “The Point” by the locals.
When it was founded in 1894, it was only a 9-hole course. Now, it is a transformed 27-hole property with revamped facilities and an expansive clubhouse.
The par-4 2nd hole is a short, uphill challenge with a demanding approach shot. Accompanied by the fresh sea breeze, the picturesque view from the green is spectacular.
9. Ballybunion (Old)
The Old Course at Ballybunion is a beautiful sight, located off Ireland’s west coast. Its expansive stretch of sand dunes provides the perfect vantage point of the Atlantic. Apart from the Cashen Course, the Old Course has hilly fairways that streak through grassy dunes.
The course architect, Tom Simpson, was grateful for the perfect blanket of terrain he used to create this masterpiece. As an avid golfer, you will share his gratitude.
10. County Louth Golf Club (Baltray)
County Louth is one of the best-kept golf secrets in Ireland. Not only do you get reliable value by playing the Baltray loop, but every hole is also a strong feature across the 190-acre terrain.
No pair of holes weave in the same direction, except for holes 12 and 13. These two holes glide along the sea and establish one of the most picturesque views on the course.
County Louth proudly hosted major international and national events, including the 2004 Nissan Irish Open and the 2009 3 Irish Open.
11. Enniscrone Golf Club
Located in County Sligo, Enniscrone Golf Club provides a fresh challenge on the Killala Bay. Designed by Eddie Hackett, this course carries a rich aura of Irish golf tradition.
The hilly climate and set of grassy hills contributed to this golf course’s nickname: “The Dunes.” The first two holes establish a worthy challenge immediately because they are a dogleg and then a narrow tee shot.
12. Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg
The Doonbeg golf resort is the ultimate weekend getaway for you and your friends. Spread along the beautiful countryside, this course covers 1.5 miles of sand dunes and beach terrain.
Greg Norman, the British Open Champion, designed this course with the modern golf challenge in mind. Because of the different wind speeds and directions, this course will play like a different challenge each time.
The par-72 course provides a single loop of 6,885 yards from the tips. This unique mix of par-3s and par-5s will make for a fun day.
13. Mount Juliet Golf Club
The Thomastown, County Kilkenny gem of Mount Juliet is a picturesque resort for you and your golf trip buddies. Irish golf’s spirit is felt through Jack Nicklaus’ first golf course design in the country.
This beautiful golf course hosted the Irish Open three times and the WGC American Express Golf Championship twice. At just over 7100 yards, this course features one of the longest holes in Ireland. You should not miss this one.
14. Old Head Golf Links
Old Head Golf Links pulled together some of the most innovative minds of Irish golf design, including Paddy Merrigan, Dr. Joe Carr, Eddie Hackett, Ron Kirby, Haulie O’Shea, and Liam Higgins.
This course extends two miles into the Atlantic, crafted recently in 1997. This course makes you feel like you are on the world’s edge, offering serene views of waves, rocks, and cave tunnels.
15. Ballyliffin (Glashedy)
Ballyliffin is located in one of the northernmost areas of Ireland, right off Tullagh Point. Founded in 1947, these modern links will test golfers of all skill levels.
The Old Course is a premier destination, but the 1995 opening of the Glashedy course is what took it over the top. This expansive stretch of terrain hosted the 2018 Irish Open, which Russell Knox successfully won.
Things to Consider
The first thing to evaluate is the golf course design and difficulty. A course layout is a primary factor in the elegance of a course. The more challenging a golf course is, the more likely it will be fun to play.
Ireland offers many holes to test your golf skills. You always want to lean more toward a course with a unique design. Not only is it ideal for mental stimulation, but it will also make for a better experience.
The course condition will also play a massive factor in the quality. Golfing is all about becoming one with nature. If the landscape is better manicured, you will enjoy your round a lot more.
If the course is in better shape, your shots will also be cleaner. It would be best to check online reviews about the course.
Here, you will discover how people assessed the condition of each course. The course location could also contribute to your enjoyment. If the course is situated in a popular area, you might be able to check out other local attractions.
As you evaluate the golf courses in Ireland, check online maps to see if there are any restaurants, entertainment venues, or pubs to visit. You will be golfing for most of the day, but you will have to eat eventually.
The course amenities are a minor but essential feature of the golf course. Are there quality practice facilities, chipping greens, and a spacious driving range? Apart from playing golf, you might want to practice or get some extra swings in.
If the golf course has a restaurant on-site, it can also be the perfect end to the round. You should also check online reviews and website content to see what the locker rooms and pro shop look like.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you look to learn more about playing golf in Ireland, check out some of the most frequently asked questions below!
How many golf courses are there in Ireland?
As of right now, there are around 350 18-hole golf courses in Ireland. If you add in 9-hole courses, there are over 450 golf courses in Ireland.
What part of Ireland has the best golf courses?
If you are looking for a general area for the best Ireland golf courses, the southwest portion of the country is where the most top-ranked golf courses are situated. The Ballybunion Golf Club is located there and features some of the most massive sand dunes the country has to offer.
Is golf better in Scotland or Ireland?
Golf in Scotland will satisfy the widest range of golf trip budgets, making it slightly better than Ireland. However, Ireland has higher-quality golf courses.
Is there good golf in Ireland?
Yes, there is excellent golf in Ireland. It is the perfect destination for the ultimate golfer and golf fan because of its rich history and beautiful, rugged terrain. Golf in Ireland will challenge you with the full range of weather conditions. It will also treat you to some of the most picturesque views.
What is the most beautiful course in Ireland?
There is no single correct answer to this question, but you cannot go wrong with Tralee Golf Club or Ballyliffin Golf Club. These two tracks will provide some of the most stunning views from the tee box and green.
So, What’s the Best Golf Course in Ireland?
If you are looking for classic links-style golf, Ballybunion Golf club is the best option for you. Lined with enormous sand dunes, you will endure the ultimate Ireland golf experience.
Not only is this course a staple in Ireland, but it also earned a spot on the Top 20 Golf Courses in the World. Courses that make honorable mention include Lahinch Golf club, The Island Golf Club, and County Sligo Club.