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Which are the Best Golf Courses in Ireland?

It may be relatively small in size, but Ireland can rightly claim its place among the elite destinations on the global golfing scene. It’s a land of spectacular links, iconic holes and clubs with a warm welcome and high prestige. An environment that’s produced names forever etched into the history of the sport and a golfing landscape of beauty, quality and charm that’s long since appealed to golfers of all standards from across the globe.

No wonder it’s one of the world’s great destinations for golfing holidays.

With around 300 courses, this is a golfers’ paradise. A perfect mix of quality and quantity virtually unrivalled anywhere in the world. And, with a range of courses to suit all preferences and all handicaps, choosing the best courses in Ireland will always be a matter of debate.

Nevertheless, we’ve picked out a selection of stunning venues that we feel represents the very best of the Irish golfing experience.


One of the more famous names of the Irish golfing scene, this iconic club just a few miles northeast of Dublin offers sensational views out over the Irish sea. Steeped in history, the course has hosted a slew of renowned professional and amateur events, including 19 times host of the Irish Open. Its combination of natural beauty, location and formidable challenge make it a popular choice for many golf tourists.

While it plays every inch of its near 6,824 metres when the wind is up, it remains a fun challenge for golfers of all handicaps, and a course that deserves to be ticked off every golfer’s to-do list.

  • ARCHITECT: William Pickeman
  • LOCATION: Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, Ireland
  • LENGTH: 6824m

PAR: 72

Ballybunion (Old Course)

A famous venue on the Irish golfing circuit, this is a must-visit for those looking for a ‘true’ links experience.

From the moment you make your way from the town to the club, you’re immersed in traditional golfing landscapes. Plotting your way around undulating dunes as the wind whips at your woollies, this is golf as it was designed to be played, with Mother Nature making her presence felt on every shot on every hole.

A regular name near the top of ‘Best Course in Ireland’ lists, the Old Course at Ballybunion (one of two courses at the club), is often spoken with the kind of reverence you might associate with the Old Course at St Andrew’s and praised by many of the great and the good of the game as one of the very best links courses in the world.

  • ARCHITECTS: Jo McKenna, Lionel Hewson, Tom Simpson, Molly Gourlay
  • LOCATION: Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, Ireland
  • LENGTH: 6162m

PAR: 71

Lahinch (Old Course)

Lahinch Golf Club

Another course that’s been shaped by some of the greatest designers, golf has been played at Lahinch since the 1890s. Set on its path to where it is today by the legendary Old Tom Morris and latterly, Augusta National’s co-designer Alister MacKenzie, the Old Course is a favourite for golf tourists and locals alike.

With stunning views across Liscannor Bay, the course offers a traditional ‘out and back’ layout. Similar to some of Old Tom’s creations in Scotland’s golfing heartland, Lahinch is a genuinely fun and quirky challenge for all golfers among its rugged natural beauty. From blind dog legs to dune-hidden greens, it’s a course that rewards imagination in your play.

Another iconic name on the Irish golf route, Lahinch offers something a little different and a lot special.

  • ARCHITECTS: Old Tom Morris, Charles Gibson, Alister MacKenzie, Martin Hawtree
  • LOCATION: Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland
  • LENGTH: 6047m

PAR: 73

The European Club

One of the newer names on the Irish golfing circuit, the European was the creation of Pat Ruddy and opened for business in 1993. With the expanse of the Irish Sea as a stunning backdrop, the course is to be found along the craggy coastline of County Wicklow, using the natural landscape of ‘Ireland’s garden’ to create a delightful blend of traditional links with a modern twist.

You can play the standard 18 holes, coming in at an impressive 6,746m off the back tees, or you can add a couple of a par 3s for a highly entertaining 20-hole par 77 round.

Either way, the course is a joy to play, offering an array of signature holes, such as the forbidding par four 7th or the par-three 12th with its 114m green.

It may be relatively new by comparison, but it’s nestled into the Irish landscape and offers a treat, a test and a memorable day out on any golf holiday in Ireland.

  • ARCHITECT: Pat Ruddy
  • LOCATION: Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow, Ireland
  • LENGTH: 6145m

PAR: 77 (18-hole par – 71)

The K Club (Palmer North)

The K Club of County Kildare is one of the more recognisable names on the Irish golf scene and offers an alternative experience to the challenges of the coastal links. The Arnold Palmer-designed North course played host to the Ryder Cup in 2006, and there’s a genuine thrill to be had when treading the same fairways.

The K Club offers more of the resort-style experience rather than the traditional Irish coastal golf, cut from similar cloth to the Celtic Manor in Wales or The Belfry in England. But, there’s plenty to enjoy from an aesthetic and challenging perspective. With the river Liffey carving its way through the course, water comes into play and the signature holes such as the monstrous 16th are a true test for any golfer.

  • ARCHITECT: Arnold Palmer
  • LOCATION: Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland
  • LENGTH: 6709m

PAR: 72

County Sligo (Rosses Point)

Few courses in Ireland offer a more spectacular setting than that of Rosses Point in County Sligo. The gorse-covered dunes and undulating fairways cling to the west coast and proffer stunning views of Limestone mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

The course itself is a delightful blend of well-thought human design and natural elements; making it a must-play for golfing visitors to the country. Another classic Irish course, each hole offers its own unique challenge to keep you on your toes, from sneaky pot bunkers to winding burns that can catch a misplaced drive.

A course to savour, that will challenge your game as you drink in the amazing scenery. Before drinking in a Guinness or two later in the day.

  • ARCHITECT: George Combe, Willie Campbell, Harry Colt
  • LOCATION: Rosses Point, County Sligo, Ireland
  • LENGTH: 6638m

PAR: 71


Whether playing one of the many links courses that cling to the 3,000 miles of coastline, or the maturing beauty of the inland resorts, golf holidays in Ireland offer a truly unique experience that is beloved by golfers the world over.