Home to some of the finest golf courses in the world, the best golf courses to visit in Ireland are all first-class. Outside of traveling to Scotland, there isn’t anywhere else that really compares in the way of golf courses in such a small area. The USA has many amazing golf courses, but they’re obviously much further apart. Taking a golf trip to Ireland is one of the best things you can do for yourself, especially if you haven’t visited before. You can throw in some whisky tastings, a trip to the Guinness HQ at St. James Gate Brewery, and stop at some of the other best places to visit in Ireland.
Just be sure you save some time to go tee to green at these courses. In no particular order, here are the 5 best golf courses to visit in Ireland.
1. Lahinch, one of Ireland’s finest golf courses
Where: Lahinch, Co. Clare
Designed By: Old Tom Morris, Dr. Martin Hawtree, Dr. Alister MacKenzie
Length: 6,950 yards
This rugged, unforgettable course is one of the oldest in the world, having been active since 1892. 32 kilometers north of Ennis, the original course had 9 holes on both sides of Liscannor Road, though it’s been updated over the years. The course has a storied history, and is often referred to as the St. Andrews of Ireland. It’s certainly one of the top golf experiences in the country, or in the world for that matter.
2. Ballybunion, the best course in Southwestern Ireland
Where: Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
Designed By: Robert Trent Jones, Sr.
Length: 6,802 yards
Founded in 1893, the club was saved early on by Colonel Bartholemew who’s investment went on to lay out new holes on the course. The course expanded to 18 holes in 1927, and over the years Ballybunion Golf Club has become one of the finest links courses you can experience. You’ll need serious control to golf here, so bring your patience along with your best effort. It’s distant location in the southwest of Ireland has kept the course from being selected for many top championship events. Go out of your way to visit.
3. Royal County Down, one of the most famous golf courses in Ireland
Where: Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
Designed By: George L. Ballie, Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Harry Colt
Length: 7,186 yards
Sitting at the base of the lovely Mountains of Mourne is one of the finest golf courses in Ireland. These are championship links, so famous that golfers from around the globe visit every year. It’s a challenge, but it’s really worth the trip to Ireland.
The 9th hole is in our opinion one of the most majestic views in golf. Don’t miss it for anything.
4. Royal Portrush, maybe Northern Ireland’s best golf course
Where: Portrush, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Designed By: Harry Colt
Length: 7,143 yards
The claim to fame is that Royal Portrush is the only club outside of Britain to host The Open Championship, having the honor in both 1951 and recently in 2019 when Shane Lowry topped the leaderboard. The course was established in 1888 and is steeped with tradition. Choose the Dunluce Links should you visit.
5. Portmarnock Golf Club, Dublin’s top golf course
Where: Pormarnock, Co. Dublin
Designed By: William Pickeman and George Ross with Mungo Park, George Coburn
8 miles northeast of Dublin sits a club that covers 500 acres, land that was once owned by John Jameson and used as his personal golf course. The course has hosted the Irish Open on 19 occasions, and being located in Dublin, it’s easy for visitors to take the drive up and get in a round. We’ll leave you with the famous words of one of the courses biggest fans throughout its history.
“I know of no greater finish in the world than that of the last five holes at Portmarnock Golf Club” -Bernard Darwin