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Best Golf Courses in Ireland

from the Experts in Golf Holidays

Lahinch Golf Club - 5th hole, Co. Clare, Ireland

Golf in Ireland

Ireland's credentials as a golfing superpower are so impressive that making a list of its best courses feels akin to making one for the best courses in the world. Second only to Scotland in importance to the history of the great game, Ireland gives the impression that it was sculpted to be the home of spectacular golf courses.

Home to over 25% of all the natural links courses on the planet, the small island has a huge amount of character. The fact that many of golf's great players come from the Emerald Isle, including the likes of Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, is hardly surprising considering the quality of courses they have grown up on.

Read on to discover the courses our experts have played and consider the best in Ireland or check out some of the best golf holiday deals in Ireland >>

BEST GOLF COURSES IN IRELAND: Paul McGinley vs YGT Rory Top 5 Golf Courses - Whose list is the best?

Royal County Down

Ranked 1st on Golf Digest's biennial 'World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses' list in 2016 and again in 2018, Royal County Down Golf Club needs little introduction. The golf course is nestled in the Murlough Nature Reserve, flanked by the breathtaking Mountains of Mourne and running along Dundrum Bay, is considered by many to be the most strikingly beautiful golf course in the world.

Don’t let the beauty of Royal County Down fool you, the course is a true test of golf, narrow fairways and ‘bearded bunkers’ demand excellent control of the golf ball.

More info on Royal County Down >>

Royal County Down facts
Location Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
Length 7,186 yards
Par 71
Designed by George L. Ballie, Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Harry Colt
Established 1890
Hosted Irish Open 4 times (1928, 1935, 1939, 2015)
Where to stay Belfast

"There probably isn't a golf course that tests you as much off the tee as Royal County Down. Each shot requires perfect execution to open up your approach."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Royal Portrush - Dunluce Links

Royal Portrush remains the only golf club outside of mainland Britain to ever host The Open Championship, an honour that was bestowed upon it once again as the world’s elite golfers did battle on the rough links terrain in The Open in 2019.

The already tough track will present a fresh challenge to amateurs and pros alike, as two new holes have been added in for the most exciting major of the year, potentially making an already great course even greater.

More info on Royal Portrush >>

Royal Portrush Dunluce Links facts
Location Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Length 7,143 yards
Par 72
Designed by Harry Colt
Established 1888
Where to stay Portrush & Derry

"Some of the best links views anywhere in the world. A very playable course if you drive it well and somewhere I'd recommend to all, such a great stretch of golf with great apres golf at Ramore in the Harbour."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Lahinch Golf Club (Old Course)

Lahinch hosted the Irish Open for the first time in 2019 and has been at the pinnacle of Irish golf since the great game was first played there in 1892.

This Irish gem is often referred to as 'the St Andrews of Ireland', a place where control of the golf ball is not just advantageous but necessary. For those who love real links golf, this course is as gorgeous as any you will find, a definite must-play.

More info on Lahinch Golf Club (Old Course) >>

Lahinch Golf Club (Old Course) facts
Location Co. Clare, Ireland
Length 6,950 yards
Par 72
Designed by Old Tom Morris, Dr Alister MacKenzie, Dr Martin Hawtree
Established 1892
Where to stay Killarney

"Intimidating, all or nothing tee shots, ingenious bunker placement – one of Mackenzie’s hallmarks – and several blind shots also add to the challenge and charm of the Old Course. For lovers of links golf, Lahinch is simply not to be missed."
Rick (Marketing: Handicap 11)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rick about playing this course.

Tralee Golf Club

Situated in a breathtaking location on the shores of County Kerry, Tralee is arguably a little overlooked at times thanks to its relatively close proximity to some of Ireland's most famous courses such as Ballybunion and Lahinch; a crying shame considering it easily holds its own with the best layouts in Ireland. Just ask course designer Arnold Palmer, who once said of Tralee: “I have never come across a piece of land so ideally suited for the building of a golf course.” Who are we to argue with The King?

Tralee is not only a fantastic test of golf but its stunning location on the shores of the ‘Lake District’ of Ireland will have golfers taking as many shots with their cameras as they do with their clubs. Get into your stride on the gentler front nine which boasts some of the most spectacular views imaginable, before taking to the back nine where it's fair to say you'll need your A Game to come out the other side with a decent scorecard intact!

More info on Tralee >>

Tralee Golf Club facts
Location Co. Kerry, Ireland
Length 6,975 yards
Par 72
Designed by Arnold Palmer
Established 1892 (current course 1984)
Where to stay Killarney

"Probably the most naturally beautiful golf course you'll come across. The course looks like a natural part of the landscape. Can't wait to play here again."
Sam (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Sam about playing this course.

Portmarnock Golf Club

Jutting out into the Irish Sea just beside Dublin, Portmarnock is surrounded by water on 3 sides, making for spectacular views and changeable winds. The layout is such that every shot is potentially played with the wind coming from a different direction, however, from the tees to the greens nearly every feature is in sight, providing a fair test to golfers of any ability.

The 19-time host of the Irish Open is deserving of a mention on any list of Ireland's greatest courses.

More info on Portmarnock Golf Club >>

Portmarnock Golf Club facts
Location Portmarnock, Co. Dublin
Length 7,463 yards
Par 72
Designed by William Pickeman
Established 1894
Hosted Irish Open 19 times (1927-2003)
Where to stay Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links

"A great links experience that was very fair and playable and a course that I'd recommend to anyone visiting Ireland."
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Oliver about playing this course.

European Club

One of the youngest links courses in Ireland, the 20-hole beauty is owner and designer Pat Ruddy's vision come to life. The European Club is full of quirks, such as the 125 yard long green on the 12th, that make playing a round upon its marvellous dunes a truly unique experience.

Potentially one of the last links courses to come out of Ireland, this is a course every golfer should play.

More info on European Club >>

European Club facts
Location Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Length 7,337 yards
Par 71
Designed by Pat Ruddy
Established 1987
Where to stay Dublin

"I think The European Club is a golf course I talk about the most. The welcome, the experience and the course are everything you'd expect and more."
Rory (Marketing: Handicap 8)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rory about playing this course.

Waterville Golf Links

Waterville Golf Links is one of the more remote golf courses on our list, located down in the South West of Ireland, in the face of the Atlantic ocean, golfers from around the world make the pilgrimage to play on its spectacular links.

Although the front 9 rolls across somewhat flat land, the undulating back 9 follows the natural layout of the dunes. The ground is firm and fast, the ability to roll the ball up onto the greens will serve you well at Waterville.

More info on Waterville Golf Links >>

Waterville Golf Links facts
Location Co. Kerry, Ireland
Length 7,200 yards
Par 72
Designed by Eddie Hackett, Claude Harmon
Established 1973
Where to stay Killarney

"The small promontory that plays host to Waterville is as natural a setting for a golf course as you can find. Almost totally surrounded by the sea, the course challenges visitors with its raw links character, owing to the natural undulations and firm, fast turf."
Sam (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Sam about playing this course.

Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg

The only course designed by Greg Norman in the entirety of the UK & Ireland, Trump Doonbeg is certainly one of his masterpieces. However, it could be said that the greater credit belongs to Mother Nature, with 14 greens and 12 fairways mown where they lay, the course is mesmerising in its natural beauty.

Forged along the County Clare coastline, 16 holes boast astonishing views over the Atlantic.

More info on Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg >>

Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg facts
Location Co. Clare, Ireland
Length 7,400 yards
Par 72
Designed by Greg Norman & Dr Martin Hawtree
Established 2002

"Standards are set at Doonbeg as soon as you arrive on the 1st tee where you are greeted by a dramatic par 5 with the Atlantic Ocean sitting a 7 iron or 2 to your left."
Rory (Marketing: Handicap 8)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rory about playing this course.

Co. Sligo Golf Club

Waterville Golf Links is one of the more remote golf courses on our list, located down in the South West of Ireland, in the face of the Atlantic ocean, golfers from around the world make the pilgrimage to play on its spectacular links.

Although the front 9 rolls across somewhat flat land, the undulating back 9 follows the natural layout of the dunes. The ground is firm and fast, the ability to roll the ball up onto the greens will serve you well at Waterville.

More info on Co. Sligo Golf Club >>

Co. Sligo Golf Club facts
Location Co. Sligo, Ireland
Length 7,259 yards
Par 71
Designed by Harry Colt
Established 1894
Where to stay North West Ireland

"The quality of the course in conjunction with the outstanding scenery of the surrounding seaside, make Co. Sligo a glorious stop off on any golf break or tour."
Sam (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Sam about playing this course.

The Island Golf Club

Waterville Golf Links is one of the more remote golf courses on our list, located down in the South West of Ireland, in the face of the Atlantic ocean, golfers from around the world make the pilgrimage to play on its spectacular links.

Although the front 9 rolls across somewhat flat land, the undulating back 9 follows the natural layout of the dunes. The ground is firm and fast, the ability to roll the ball up onto the greens will serve you well at Waterville.

More info on The Island Golf Club >>

The Island Golf Club facts
Location Co. Dublin, Ireland
Length 6,271 yards
Par 71
Designed by Fred Hawtree, Eddie Hackett, Martin Hawtree
Established 1890
Where to stay Dublin

"A fantastic links golf course that deserves all the praise it receives. One of the most memorable things of playing here for me is firstly the views, they're amazing but also the lies that you can experience when you stray offline."
Sam (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Sam about playing this course.

Ballyliffin Golf Club (Glashedy Links)

Another young golf course to make our list, the Glashedy Links at Ballyliffin only opened for play in 1995. The northernmost club in all of Ireland, what it lacks in history it makes up for in character and artful design.

A tough test for even the most skilled manipulator of the golf ball, the course is considered a brute but also a must play. Ballyliffin looks set to bid for the Irish Open in the near future, something many golfers would welcome.

More info on Ballyliffin Golf Club (Glashedy Links) >>

Ballyliffin Golf Club (Glashedy Links) facts
Location Co. Donegal, Ireland
Length 7,423 yards
Par 72
Designed by Pat Ruddy, Tom Craddock
Established 1995
Where to stay North West Ireland

"Unlike its more traditional sister, there are huge greens here, whose severe slopes make scoring well on a blustery day devilishly difficult."
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Oliver about playing this course.

Frequently asked questions about Golf in Ireland

What is the best links golf course in Ireland?

The top-rated links golf course in Ireland is Ballybunion Golf Club in the South West. Home to some of the biggest sand dunes you'll ever see anywhere on a golf course, this golfing masterpiece is not only well-ranked in Ireland but also features within the Top 20 Golf Courses in the World. Other well-ranked links golf courses in Ireland include Lahinch Golf Club in the South West, County Silgo in the North West and The Island Golf Club just outside of Dublin.

What are the best tournament golf courses in Ireland?

The K Club near Dublin has hosted not only The European Tour but also The 2006 Ryder Cup where Team Europe claimed a memorable victory. Other previous hosts of The European Tour include Druids Glen, Fota Island, Cork Golf Club and Carton House. Adare Manor has also hosted The Irish Open but is drawing a lot of attention courtesy of it being selected as host of The 2027 Ryder Cup and is considered after its redesign and renovation to be one of the best golf resorts in Europe.

What is the most expensive golf course in Ireland?

Adare Manor, following its redesign by Tom Fazio, is now the most expensive golf course to play. A green fee is now 395 euros plus a caddie fee of 75 euros. Despite this cost, reviews of the course are of the very highest standard with Lee Westwood quoted as saying it is one of the best golf resorts he has played at and the condition of the course being similar or better to any hosting a professional tournament.