It’s that time of the year again, where we asked our Just Golf subscribers to name their favourite course in Ireland. Several thousand golfers were surveyed this year and we have extended our list from a top 25 to a top 40!
Disclaimer: We did not influence this list, it’s calculated solely from the responses we received. It provides an accurate, independent and up-to-date insight into the most popular courses according to golfers from all over Ireland.
This Galway course is over 100 years old, but it remains one of Ireland’s most popular parkland’s. The course is a joy to play and you can expect a huge amount of variety throughout your round. With lengthy par 3s and spectacular mature trees, you will definitely receive value for money at Portumna. You may even catch a glimpse of some wildlife during your 18 holes.
39) Mount Wolseley
This Carlow club’s pedigree was shown last October when it hosted the Volopa Irish Challenge on the Challenge Tour. This traditional parkland course will remind you why you started swinging a club. The course will make you pull out every shot from your bag, with greens and fairways sandwiched between acres of trees, it can challenge any golfer. Water comes into play on 11 of the holes and the course has some mouth-watering par 3s. It’s no surprise it has proven to be so popular.
The first of the links courses on our list is Connemera Golf Club, which is one of the biggest challenges in links golf. Although the fairways are wide for a links, it’s a long course, measuring up to 7200 yards depending on what 18 of their 27 holes you play.
Like many links courses this venue is hugely affected by the wind and the course can seem like two completely different places depending on the weather you experience.
Opened in 1922, this course is one of Leinster’s oldest parkland courses, measuring at 6533 yards. The course hasn’t been updated since 1937, which gives it a unique feel for any golfer who plays the course. It’s a throwback to when golf wasn’t all about smashing it 300+ yards off the tee, instead each hole has its own individual charm and challenge.
The course has fantastic drainage facilities, so it’s in pristine condition all year round.
The first of many links courses on our list located on the East coast of Ireland, Seapoint is a joy for any links lover. Flatter and more approachable than the neighbouring Baltray, Seapoint is a links course that appeals to the masses. Although it’s new in links terms (opened in 1993), the course has character and it’s already considered one of Ireland’s finest and most enjoyable links courses.
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington knows a thing or two about golf and after he played Seapoint, he said ‘’There is not a weak hole on the entire golf course’’
As you make your way into the entrance, through a housing estate, it’s hard to know what to expect from this course, but once you step out onto the first tee, you know what’s in store: a golfing a paradise. You can always expect this course to be in prime condition every time you visit.
Superb water hazards, tricky rough and endless trees are all obstacles to overcome as you try your hand at this course. Many agree the course is a firm, but fair challenge and it has grown from strength-to-strength over the years.
34) Portstewart (Strand)
This course is a classic Ulster links, with awe-inspiring sand dunes and spectacular views.
The opening hole on the course is one of, if not the most, dramatic and stunning opening holes in Irish golf. It’s a spectacular downhill 425 yard par 4 that sets the tone for the entire round.
You’ll be tested off the tee with numerous doglegs and throughout the round every club in your bag will be required. The flow of the course constantly challenges the golfer along with unpredictable wind conditions.
It’s one of the 10 oldest clubs in the county, but it remains a firm favourite with Irish golfers. This is the first of many Kerry-based links courses on the list, showing why it’s considered one of the best places in the world to play golf. Dooks is certainly no exception, the course layout is traditional, but challenging with narrow fairways and contoured greens. Although it’s not as long as some of the courses in the region, don’t expect this course to be a walkover, it’s a test and true leveler for all golfers.
Less than half an hour from Dublin Airport and city centre, you can hide away for 18 holes in this luxurious 5 star resort. The course measures 7347 yards from the back tees and water comes into play on 11 of the holes, so this course isn’t for the feint hearted.
The front 9 holes are tricky, but rewarding and a real challenge for any golfer, regardless of ability level. It’s well known on the East of Ireland, but we reckon it won’t take long until it’s a national and international name.
31) Esker Hills
Shane Lowry is golfer close to many Irish golf fans’ hearts and his home course, which is situated in the heart of the county is loved by many golfers. This course offers everything a parkland course should: difficult water hazards, rolling hills, tree-lined fairways and a whole load of fun!
This Christy O’Connor Jnr course offers many blinds shots, which add to the attraction and make it stand out from the rest.
Although originally opened in 1896, Arnold Palmer added his magic touch to Tralee to create a links paradise. After a couple of rounds at Tralee, you will become a master of the low punch shot, which is vital for any links course. The course offers you everything you could wish for in the scenery: the roaring Atlantic Ocean, castle ruins, an old round tower and beautiful beaches.
Tralee epitomizes why so many golfers travel from all over the world to play our links courses.
29) The Island
Anybody who’s been lucky enough to play The Island, cannot say enough good things about it. This North Dublin-based links course is situated by the Irish Sea, Donabate beach and Broadmeadow Estuary.
The Island isn’t as secluded as some of Munster’s or Connacht’s links course, but the views of Malahide village just adds to the charm of the venue. You might feel like you’ve gone back to golf in the 19th century as you play, but catching a view of the village will bring you back to the present. While a surreal venue, it is a classic Irish links course.
28) County Sligo (Rosses Point)
Originally opened in 1894, this course is a perfect blend of old and new. Like many of Ireland’s courses, County Sligo opened as a 9 hole course, but now it’s a modern 27 hole complex. They also opened a new contemporary clubhouse in 2005, where you can always expect a renowned West coast welcome.
Enjoy spectacular views during your round of this true links course, from its advantageous position, perched high on a cliff.
27) Powerscourt (East)
Set in a scenery of luxury and elegance, you feel like you’ve been on an adventure before you even play a hole at Powerscourt. The course offers amazing views of the neighbouring Sugarloaf mountain, combined with stunning water features throughout the round. You know you’re experiencing something magical when you play at Powerscourt.
26) The European Club
One of Leinster’s top links courses, The European Club leaves an impression on anyone lucky enough to grace its fairways. This 19th century links has some of the best bunkers in the country and the course has proven a test to even the best players in the world. Rory McIlroy has called this course one of the best links courses he’s ever played. Tiger Woods is also a fan of the course and he holds the course record of 67.
25) Carne Golf Links (Belmullet)
It’s one of the newer additions to the world of links golf, but Carne is a treat to behold. Although it was opened in 1995, if someone told you it was 1895, you’d believe them, as the course has the heart and soul of a true historic links course. The course was the last links course designed by the iconic late Eddie Hackett and many agree he saved one of his best for last.
The course is built around its 27 gaping sand dunes, which provide stunning views from the 1st tee to the 18th green.
24) The Heritage
Designed by the late great Seve Ballesteros, with the Slieve Bloom mountains as the perfect backdrop, The Heritage remains a popular parkland course.
The course has around 100 bunkers scattered on the course and if that wasn’t enough of a test, water comes into play on no less than ten holes.
It’s set the host the biggest event in the history of the Irish PGA later this year, when it will no doubt be in prime condition.
23) Ballyliffin (Glashedy)
Rory McIlroy has called it one of his favourite courses in Ireland and it it’s good enough for Rory, it’s good enough for us. The course is everything you’d expect from one of Ireland’s top links courses: narrow fairways, high sloping dunes, small bunkers, rolling greens and stunning scenery. The course are aiming to bid for an Irish Open in the next few years and we think it would be a worthy venue for our national Open.
22) Old head
It’s one of the most unique settings for a golf course in the world and the course itself is one of a kind. The course is one of the busiest in Ireland, attracting mostly tourists to this surreal venue. Old Head is almost a full island in the Atlantic and it stretches over 7200 yards and half of the holes are played along the cliff edge. Many golfers may not have gotten to experience this course due to a lack of availability, but if you haven’t played it yet, it’s one for your bucket list!
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley doesn’t design many courses, but when he does, they are a sight to behold. Macreddin’s slopes provide you with some tantalizing views of the Macreddin Valley and many challenging shots throughout your round.
This course is proof that quality does not always mean higher prices when you’re enjoying a game of golf.
A new entry to our list this year, Woodenbridge offers a warm feeling about the club from the moment you arrive. To get on to the course, you have to cross a railway track (after looking back of course), then you take in the course itself, which sits in a valley surrounded by wooded slopes on both sides. A river meanders the length of the course, testing you on many of it’s back 9 holes in particular.
19) County Louth (Baltray)
County Louth Golf Club is a course steeped in history. The course opened in 1892 and it has been largely untouched since its re-design in 1938. The course has a triangle course design, which makes the wind a constant task to master on every visit you have to Baltray. This classic links has a reputation as being one of the most enjoyable on the East coast.
In its most recent history the course was the host of the 2009 Irish Open, where a clean shaven, amateur Shane Lowry claimed the title.
Friendly staff, a new challenge on every hole and true links golf test, it is no wonder Enniscrone is such a highly rated course. You will need all of your shots in your bag for this 27 hole links course.
Enniscrone is littered with large sand dunes which are a sight second to none. You feel the course saves its best for last as the four finishing holes are exhilarating and border the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a wonder this course hasn’t hosted an Irish Open.
17) Slieve Russell
A test for a golfer of any ability, this course has no weak holes. It is the home club to the number one ranked amateur lady golfer in the world, Leona Maguire and it is plain to see why she rose to the top when she had this amazing course on which to learn the ropes. It’s a course where you can always expect a friendly welcome and a real test of your game, with a new challenge on every hole.
16) Headfort (new)
Another one of Christy O’Connor Jnr’s finest moments is the new course at Headfort. This course was opened in 2000 and it measures at a staggering 7,124 yards from the back tees, this Meath parkland truly is a modern marvel. Often the old and traditional out-favour anything new in the world of golf, but Headfort’s new course is an exception to the rule.
Expect long par 5s, pretty par 3s and plenty of water to contend with, it’s a true golfing experience.
15) Lough Erne
Lough Erne is unquestionably one of the finest courses opened in Ireland this decade so far. The course is only 6 years old, but it has already developed a strong character and charm.
Lough Erne has impressed so much in its short history that it is set to host to the 2017 Irish Open.
Water comes into play on 11 holes on this 7,167 yards Par 72 course. Their iconic 10th hole, the ‘Emerald Isle’ has water surrounding the green on three sides and it is a must try for any avid Irish golfer.
14) Killeen Castle
Up 7 places from last year, Killeen Castle was designed by the most successful player the game has ever seen, Jack Nicklaus and this course proves his designing skills certainly match his golfing prowess. The course remains the only one in Ireland to host the Solheim Cup, when Europe triumphed over the USA in 2011.
Killeen Castle has stood for over 800 years, as an ancient home to the High Kings of Ireland and you will feel like golfing royalty as you grace the fairways of this picturesque venue.
13) Carton House (O’ Meara course)
Carton’s parkland course proves to be ever-popular with Irish Golfers and it’s clear to see why. The course is full of beauty and history, but when two-time major champion Mark O’Meara designed the course, he aimed to set it up, so golfers would have fun during their round.
O’Meara has certainly achieved his ambition as golfers continue to flock to the course in droves year in year out.
Up 5 places on our list from last year, this true link course has been around since 1889! Waterville has a host of unique holes and the location will take your breath away.
Tom Fazio was brought in to update the course in 2002. Fazio has also worked on Augusta National and Pine Valley and he calls this Kerry course one of the best he’s ever seen.
The final three holes run down the coastline with the Atlantic ocean crashing in against the beach, a sight that rewards you for making it all the around this amazing links course.
11) Concra Wood
Unquestionably on of the finest pieces of work from the late great Christy O’Connor Jnr who teamed up his uncle Christy O’Connor Snr to design this masterpiece.
The course tumbles down to the lake’s edge in this fantastic location and it’s almost impossible to pick your favourite hole at Concra Wood, this course just offers you so much. It may not be the best known Ulster course, but anybody who plays it can’t stop raving about it.
10) Adare Manor
Playing golf with the 18th century Manor watching over you is a unique experience, but even the backdrop can’t distract you from the quality of the course itself. Many agree that there isn’t a bad hole on this course and one course that you have to add to your bucket list.
The River Maigue which meanders through the entire golf course, offers a constant challenge along with the mature trees.
Lee Westwood holds the course record of 64 from the 2008 Irish Open.
9) Portmarnock Golf Club
The top rated Dublin course in our list is no surprise, Portmarnock Golf Club has hosted the Irish Open more than any other course in its 88 year history (19 times), including the first ever Irish Open back in 1927. The course was also a host to the 1991 Walker Cup, where a fresh faced Phil Mickelson’s USA defeated a GB and Ireland team featuring Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.
Another star who came here and loved it was the greatest player of the 21st century, Tiger Woods who said Portmarnock is “one of the most enjoyable links courses I have had an opportunity to play “. Sure who could disagree with Tiger?
8) Royal Portrush
Royal Portrush will host the 2019 British Open. It will only be the 2nd time that the British Open will be held outside Scotland or England, both occasions being at Royal Portrush. That stat alone proves the pedigree of the course at Royal Portrush.
Situated on the beautiful North Antrim Causeway coast, Royal Portrush occupies a triangle of giant sandhills which present magnificent views in all directions. In the West, you can see The hills of Donegal, to the North, the Isle of Islay and Southern Hebride, with the Giant’s Causeway and the Skerries in the east.
7) Ballybunion (old)
Another one of Munster’s stunning links courses that offers a fine challenge to any golfer. The classic linksland terrain is covered with rolling sandhills and grassy dunes. The challenging layout features narrow, contoured fairways that feel as though they are tunneled through the dunes. Even if your golf is off, you can enjoy the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean throughout your round.
6) Fota Island (Deerpark)
Another former Irish Open course on our list, most recently held there in 2014, this picturesque setting is our highest ranked course in Cork and it is clear to see why. Fota Island is up an impressive 6 places on our list from 2015. The Deerpark course is the original Fota Island course and it remains the crown jewel.
Close out your round in style here as many golfers agree that the 18th at Fota Island is one of the best closing holes in Ireland.
5) The K – Club (Palmer course)
The host venue for the 2016 Irish Open is an incredible parkland course. The Palmer course famously hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup, showing its prestige on a global level. The venue oozes class and luxury from the moment you enter the grounds and it remains a fan favourite throughout Ireland. Kildare is a county renowned for its golf courses and The K-Club tops the bill as the very best. There isn’t one weak hole on the course and it’s always in pristine condition, it will be fascinating to see how some of the best players in the world will fare in the upcoming Irish Open.
4) Lahinch (Old)
Yet another links course on our list with a rich history, Lahinch’s Old course was opened in 1892, making it one of Ireland’s oldest courses. Lahinch is links golf at its purest with towering sand dunes, narrow fairways and an ever-testing wind from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s hard to find an experience more enjoyable or memorable than a round at Lahinch.
The course was designed by Old Tom Morris and it is often called the St. Andrews of Ireland, which is arguably the highest complement you could ask for. With all the ingredients of everything you’d want from links golf, it’s no wonder this course is so highly ranked.
3) Royal County Down
This course hosted the 2015 Irish Open and over 80,000 people took in the course’s unique beauty over the four day event. Situated between the Irish Sea and the Mourne Mountains, this course has to be seen to be believed. Originally designed by golfing pioneer Old Tom Morris and touched up by the 12 designers since then, Royal County Down has kept its strong heritage and character, but it remains a modern challenge for the best in the game. A round here can be a grueling experience for any golfer, but there’s no better feeling than mastering a hole at Royal County Down.
2) Druids Glen
It’s nicknamed ‘The Augusta of Europe’ and it lives up to that title. Similar to Augusta, Druids Glen’s 12th and 13th holes are extremely memorable. The 12th is a downhill par 3 with a stunning view from the green back up to the tee box. The 13th has been called the best par 4 in Europe by Colin Montgomerie, and Sergio Garcia. With such praise from Europe’s golfing elite, it has a lot to live up to which it does and then some. This course proves to be one of Ireland’s most popular venues and it is a must-play for any golf lover.
The course held the Irish Open from 1996 to 1999 and it remains one of only two courses to host the tournament four years in a row.
1) Mount Juliet
Retaining its position on top of the pile is the stunning Mount Juliet, located in County Kilkenny. This Jack Nicklaus designed parkland course appeals to the masses as golfers of all abilities are able to try their hand at this fantastic course. Nicklaus created a course that has a perfect blend of Irish and American parklands, with wide open fairways and long, daunting holes. Mount Juliet provides the whole package – a great challenge, amazing scenery, modern clubhouse and peaceful break from the outside world.
Mount Juliet is the only course in Ireland to host a World Golf Championship, when it was the home to the WGC – American Express Championship in 2002 and 2004, so you can follow in the footsteps of the greats of the modern era such as Tiger Woods, when you make your way around Mount Juliet.
Full Top 40 Irish Courses Voted By The Just Golf Subscribers
|POSITION||CLUB||CHANGE FROM 2015|
|3rd||Royal County Down||Down 1|
|4th||Lahinch (Old)||Up 1|
|5th||The K-Club (Palmer)||Up 2|
|6th||Fota Island (Deerpark)||Up 16|
|7th||Ballybunion (Old)||Down 3|
|8th||Royal Portrush||Up 4|
|9th||Portmarnock Golf Club||Same|
|10th||Adare Manor||Down 1|
|11th||Concra Wood||Down 6|
|13th||Carton House (O’ Meara course)||Up 8|
|14th||Killeen Castle||Up 7|
|15th||Lough Erne||Up 2|
|16th||Headfort (New)||Up 1|
|17th||Slieve Russell||Down 5|
|19th||County Louth (Baltray)||New Entry|
|22nd||Old Head||Down 11|
|23rd||Ballyliffin (Glashedy)||New Entry|
|24th||The Heritage||Down 12|
|25th||Carne Golf Links (Belmullet)||New Entry|
|26th||The European Club||Down 14|
|27th||Powerscourt (East)||New Entry|
|28th||County Sligo (Rosses Point)||New Entry|
|29th||The Island||New Entry|
|31st||Esker Hills||New Entry|
|34th||Portstewart (Strand)||New Entry|
|39th||Mount Wolseley||New Entry|
So there you have it, Just Golf’s 2016 Top 40 Clubs in Ireland. Do you agree or do you think any clubs should have made the cut that didn’t? Let us know at JustGolf.ie.
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