The five best Golf Courses in Ireland
Ireland has established itself firmly in the world of Golf, boasting some of the worlds finest courses, especially links courses. The country is obsessed with Golf, having more courses per capita than any country bar Japan. This love affair is starting to pay off in the Pro circuit, with the country producing many fine golfers such as Pádraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell to name but a few. These are the top five courses in Ireland, there are many contenders but these have always struck a chord with me. I hope that you get to enjoy them too.
1. Royal County Down Golf Course, Down.
There are difficult golf courses. Then there is Royal County Down. If ever a golfer needed their ‘A’ game – length, accuracy, bump-and-run, good sand play and patience, then this is it . Located 30 miles south of Belfast, this is arguably the most exciting Links course in the country and always mentioned as one of the finest links courses in the Word. It is not a course for the faint hearted, as it has fast green and several blind shots. Its location at the foot hills of the Mountains of Mourne provides a stunning backdrop to this course. The Royal County Down itself is situated in the Murlough nature reserve. The 9th hole in the course is one of the most photographed golf course holes in the World. It is a favourite course of Rory McIlroy and Graham McDowell. It is a Par 71 and 7167 yr course. An interesting aside is that Tiger Woods, on peak form scored an 80 on his first go. It is a course to play for the love of a challenge rather than one for setting a personal best.
2. Ballybunion (Old) Golf Course, Co. Kerry
Considered the finest golf course in the country, and a constant entry in the Top 100 Golf courses of the World, this golf course on
Ireland’s rugged Atlantic shore, stands virtually treeless but with many friends, it is a favourite of Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Phil Mickleson, Ian Woosnam and Vijay Singh (who has stated that Ballybunion is his favourite course outside of the US!). Tom Watson the famous American golfer described the 11th hole as the greatest par 4 in the world. It was Tom who made Ballybunion Golf Course world famous by remarking “Nobody can call himself a golfer until he has played at Ballybunion; you would think the game originated there!”.
3 . Old Head Kinsale Golf Course, Co. Cork.
Certainly one of the most unusual golf course locations that you will ever find. The Old head of Kinsale Golf course is built on a promontory headland, edged by cliffs for several hundred metres, the area is a national monument, featuring ancient forts, castles and lighthouses. The course is set out over 220 acres and is a par 70 course. Personally this is my favourite golf course in Ireland. I love the atmosphere and the attitude at the course, it is unfailingly friendly, like people are so happy to be playing there that they are happy for you too. Kinsale town is also noted as the gourmet capital of Ireland. So the 19th hole is as good as you get. When you see how I play, it is best that I concentrate on the restaurants in Kinsale.
4. Enniscrone Golf Course. Co. Sligo
Located in the West of Ireland, on the atlantic shore. Enniscrone boasts this championship Golf Course and some of the best surfing in the world. Spend the morning playing golf on a Top 100 world championship course and the afternoon on the beach, beside the course surfing world Championship breakers. It doesn’t get more exceptional than that. The course was founded in 1918 but was completely redesigned in 1974 by the famous Golf course designer Eddie Hackett. The course is set with Croagh Patrick and Neiphin mountains and shard defined Sand Dunes that have led to some commentating that Enniscrone is like playing golf among the great pyramids of Giza. A comment that one could put down put down to a touch of sun and hyperbole but is actually quiet appropriate when you are walking though them, 80ft with steep and well defines slopes. It is a Par 73 course over 6857 yards.
5. Adare Manor Golf Course, Co. Limerick.
This course set on the lush grounds of Adare Manor in Limerick was designed by probably the world’s most famous golf course designer – Robert Trent Jones. He said of it that the 5th hole that it was probably the best 5th in the world. It’s a par 5, real knee knocker shot over the River Maigue on to the green on the banks of the river, landing (hopefully) just at the side of the wonderful manor house. It is often one of the first courses that Americans play in Ireland, as it is just 30 minutes to Shannon Airport and less than an hour’s drive to the golfing paradise that is County Kerry. It is a Par 72, 7453 yard golf course. It is the best parkland golf course in Ireland but I suspect that international visitors may find more appeal in the rugged beauty of the links. It international reputation has been enhanced by being selected for the Irish Championships over the last no. of years and high profile events such as the JP McManus ProAm.
When I was picking out these courses for the “Best Golf courses in Ireland“. I looked at courses that could be, and are considered exceptional by golfers all over the world, not just Ireland. I then refined that list through my own prism, my own experiences. These are the Irish golf courses that are my favourite. If you are a golfer, or a golf course manager (indeed any tourism business) and want to have an article on your favourite Irish course or what makes your one worth visiting then please email us: editor (at) holidaysaroundireland.com .The correct address replacing (at) with @ and remove the spaces. We’ll be happy to include a link back to your site, if required.
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