Last updated on November 25, 2023
You want to take a two-week golf holiday. On the island of Ireland. And of course you want to play on top courses. But which ones are they?
Page Contents (click line to jump the text)
Don’t worry, we’ll clear that up in this article.
Ireland is a mecca for golfers. The Republic of Ireland alone has around 400 golf clubs and Northern Ireland has another 95. On the island you will find over a third of all links courses in the world – and what great courses in breathtaking scenery!
But the parkland courses don’t need to hide in international comparison either. Numerous world-class championship courses can be found among them.
The so-called Heath Courses are also a speciality. These are mostly mountainous heath courses that play similarly to links courses.
By the way, we live in Ireland (second home) and have also played a few courses. In summer we run our motorbike rental business (www.easycruiser.tours) at our location, south of Dublin. We also offer nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie) for travellers and – also for golfers!
So what are the top 14 golf courses for your two-week golf trip?
Source and selection criteria
The Irish Golfer magazine has selected the top 100 golf courses on the island for 2023. A competent team has drawn up a catalogue of criteria and evaluated all golf courses according to these criteria.
In addition to the golf course design, the playability, condition, club and visitor experience and the visual impression are also included in the evaluation.
The visual impression means the wow factor of the course, i.e. great view, fantastic landscape, etc.. So all criteria that are very relevant for the holiday golfer. We take a look at the top 14 golf courses from this ranking below:
Top 1: Royal Portrush
Breathtakingly beautifully situated, exciting and difficult to play. That’s probably the best way to sum it up. This championship links course on the Northern Irish coast delights the pros. See: https://www.royalportrushgolfclub.com/.
Top 2: Portmarnock
Located right on the northern edge of Dublin, just minutes from the airport, this course wows from the moment you arrive on the island. Large fast greens and long fast fairways make up this top maintained links course. A close second behind Portrush. See: https://www.portmarnockgolfclub.ie/.
Top 3: Royal County Down
Difficult to play, this links course, in the north-east of Ireland, has a few chicanes. If you like it tricky, this is the place for you. Everyone else just relax, don’t take the scorecard too seriously and enjoy the undulating dunes, the white beach and the mountains in the background – you are on holiday after all! See: https://www.royalcountydown.org/.
Top 4: Lahinch
Lahinch is a seaside resort on the west coast, not far from the famous Cliffs of Moher. The golf links is also famous among connoisseurs. The design combines traditional and modern elements and literally flows through the windy dune landscape. The result is a fluid and enjoyable round of golf! See: https://lahinchgolf.com/.
Top 5: County Louth (Baltry)
On the north east coast of Ireland you will find this beautifully maintained links course. It has a clever design with many options for the strategic player. See: https://www.countylouthgolfclub.com/.
Top 6: Golf Course at Adare Manor
Magnificent. This is the historic Adare Manor, now a hotel and golf resort. The first parkland course in our Top 14 is located directly in front of the magnificent castle hotel and also shines with its immaculate condition. The Ryder Cup 2027 will be played here. See: https://www.adaremanor.com/golf/.
Top 7: Ballybunion (Old)
Quickly back to the coast, after all, there is another highlight on the southwest coast: the old links course shines with its natural beauty and its fantastic location. The club itself advertises “world-class golf” and that is certainly no exaggeration. See: https://www.ballybuniongolfclub.com/.
Top 8: Tralee
Tralee Golf Club is also located on the southwest coast. It is located west of the town of Tralee on a beautiful headland and offers the finest links golf on the windy Atlantic. The Arnold Palmer design is very natural and uniquely situated in terms of landscape. See: https://traleegolfclub.com/.
Top 9: St. Patricks Links Rosapenna
Rosapenna is also located on the southwest coast and offers three great links courses. The St. Patricks Links is very new and modern. Modern professional golf in a beautiful landscape. See: https://www.rosapenna.ie.
Top 10: Waterville
On a headland with a long sandy beach, this golf links is located off the coast of Kerry, with the mountains of Killarney National Park in the background. I know the area well – it couldn’t be more beautiful. See: https://www.watervillegolflinks.ie/.
Top 11: The Island Golf Club
Back to Dublin: The Island Golf Club is located on a sandbank in the north of the city. The club, which is rich in tradition, does a lot for its status as a championship course and does so successfully.
Top 12: Carne (Wild Atlantic Dunes)
On the wild northwest coast of Ireland lies Carne Golf Links on the remote Belmullet Peninsula. You don’t come here by chance…but you do come here to play a beautifully situated, completely natural links course. The dunes are magical and the course is spectacular! See: http://www.carnegolflinks.com/:
Top 13: The European Club
The European Club is located on the south east coast, between Arklow and Wicklow. Set between mountains, gorse and coastline, this golf links has several greens almost touching the water. Simply beautiful golf. See: http://www.theeuropeanclub.com/.
Top 14: County Sligo Golf Club
On the north-west coast of Ireland, on a peninsula to the north-west of Sligo town, lies this golf links. It is very versatile in design and offers the player all kinds of tricky challenges. See: https://countysligogolfclub.ie/.
Ireland is worth a golf trip – and not just one. The selection of pahntastic golf courses on the island is truly impressive.
Our Top 14 highlights spectacular links courses in particular. It also makes a lot of sense to spend your holiday on a coastal island and play courses you won’t find back home.
But there are also many really great parkland courses in Ireland that are well worth a visit.
It’s not necessarily just the top courses that make your holiday, but also little hidden gems in the Heartlands or places you wouldn’t expect to find much.
Play the top spots, or just drive haphazardly around the island and play wherever and whenever you feel like it.
You can’t go wrong, because you will enjoy the beautiful island of Ireland and have a wonderful golf holiday.
With this in mind – have fun in Ireland!
More interesting articles for you
Cover photo credit: Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash