Irish Courses

/Irish Courses
Irish Courses 2018-06-06T14:00:37+00:00

Royal Portrush

Royal Portrush Golf Club is a private golf club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The 36-hole club has two links courses, the Dunluce Links (the championship course) and the Valley Links. The former is one of the courses on the Open championship rota and will next host the tournament in 2019. In 1951, Royal Portrush hosted the Open Championship, the oldest of golf’s major championships; the only Open not held on the island of Great Britain. The Open will return to Portrush in 2019; it hosted the Irish Open in 2012, the first in Northern Ireland since 1953.

The Dunluce Links course is considered to be one of the best courses in the world. It was ranked fourth by Golf World in their list of “The 100 greatest courses in the British Isles” in November 1996. Golf Magazine ranked it twelfth in their list of the Top 100 Courses in the World, and Golf Digest ranked it as the fourth best course outside the United States in 2007.

The Royal Portrush Golf Club was founded 129 years ago in 1888 as “The County Club.” It became “The Royal County Club” in 1892 under the patronage of the Duke of York and assumed its present name in 1895 under the patronage of the Prince of Wales. In 1947, Rathmore Golf Club member Fred Daly became the first Irishman to win The Open Championship, and four years later the club hosted the championship itself, the only time the event has been held in Northern Ireland.

The second course at Royal Portrush is the Valley Links, and is used mostly by members of the ‘town’ club Rathmore and the ladies and juniors of Royal Portrush. It is shorter and considered less demanding than the Dunluce Links. Rathmore clubhouse and the ladies clubhouse are situated adjacent to the first tee. A nine-hole pitch and putt course, named Skerries, starts from the same location. There is also a driving range at the club.

Royal County Down

The Championship Course at Royal County Down measures over 7,200 yards (6,580 m) from the back tees, and the fourth and ninth holes are featured in the book The 500 World’s Greatest Golf Holes.[2] In 2005 the Championship Course was ranked as the fourth best course in the world outside the United States by Golf Digest, and in 2007 it was ranked first. In 2016 it was voted the best Golf Course in the world by US magazine Golf Digest.

Royal County Down has made outstanding contributions to Irish golf from the Club’s beginnings, hosting many important tournaments, starting soon after it opened, and continuing to the present day. Notably, the Club in 2007 became just the second Irish venue, after Portmarnock, to host the Walker Cup. The Irish Open on the European Tour is scheduled for late May in 2015, returning to Royal County Down after 76 years.[4] It previously hosted the event three times, all prior to World War II

The first course at County Down was built by Old Tom Morris, hired for the sum of four guineas to build a championship course at Newcastle, which opened on 23 March 1889. His course started and finished by the railway station; thus it played through the general area which the Slieve Donard Hotel now occupies. Joseph Tatlow in his book “Fifty Years of Railway Life” describes how as the then General Manager of the County Down Railway he identified the opportunity for the railway company to build a golf course and hotel at the southern end of their railway.

Many of the holes were on the grounds that the present-day Championship and Annesley courses at County Down occupy. George Combe began the remodelling of the course in 1900, and was Convenor of the Green from 1900 to 1913. He was made an honorary life member in 1909 and continued making improvements to the course. Harry Vardon modified the course in 1908, the same year King Edward VII bestowed royal patronage on the club. In 1926, the Club brought Harry Colt in to make further improvements

County Louth

County Louth Golf Club is a links golf course located in the village of Baltray, County Louth in Ireland. It is situated approximately 4 miles from the town of Drogheda. The Irish Open professional golf tournament which is part of the PGA European Tour has been held there on two occasions, in 2004 and 2009.

The current course was designed in 1938 by Tom Simpson and is laid out over 190 acres (77 ha) of land. The 18-hole course par score is 73 with a course length of 6936 yards.

County Louth Golf Club or “Baltray” as it is more affectionately known is situated 4 miles from the historic town of Drogheda at the mouth of the river Boyne. With the river to the south and the Irish Sea to the east, this is Links golf at is very best, with only the muted murmur of a ships engine to break the sounds of nature, as it quietly winds its way up river to the port.

The golf course at County Louth is consistently ranked among the Top 10 courses in Ireland. Sometimes ferocious and other times benign, it provides competition for all handicaps. In today’s language it could well be described as “user friendly”.

County Louth Golf Club has a tradition of hosting major National and International events both Amateur and Professional, including the Irish Open in 2004 and 2009. It is currently host venue for the Irish Womens Amateur Open, the East Of Ireland Amateur Championship, and R&A Open Qualifying.


The Waterville area and Ballinskelligs Bay play an important part in the mythology of ancient Ireland. According to the Book of Invasions written about 1000 AD, Cessair, the grand-daughter of Noah, landed in Ballinskelligs Bay after the flood and became Irelands first invader.

Here, too, the last of the mythical invaders, the Milesians, settled in 1700 BC and reportedly left behind many of the archeological sites found in the area. These rich legends along with the earliest memories of Kerry history combine to form a mystical aura that visitors to Waterville can sense even today.

No area captures this feeling more than the sand hills and strands that border Ballinskelligs Bay and forms the present day Waterville Golf Links.

Waterville Golf Links”The Green is considered a sporting one, and the views from it are very fine while the Atlantic breezes that blow across it are invigorating and refreshing. The hazards are such as are usually to be met on the seaside course.” An accurate description, you may understandably believe, of the Waterville Golf Links that we know and love so well today.

Ballybunion Old

The Ballybunion Golf Club is a golf club in County Kerry, Ireland. Founded in 1893, the club had barely opened its doors before experiencing financial problems. An investment from Colonel Bartholomew saved the club in 1906, and nine new holes were promptly laid out. By 1927 the course had been expanded to 18 holes.

Considered one of the finest links courses in the world, Ballybunion’s reputation grew over time. Unfortunately, its remote locale on the Irish southwest coast has prevented the course from being selected for many top championship events. Still, a number of the world’s best players have found their way to the famed course. One, in particular, has had a lasting impact. Tom Watson first visited Ballybunion in 1981 and has returned often.

In 1995, he remodeled Ballybunion into the course that exists today.[2] Ballybunion was ranked by Golf Digest in 2005 as the seventh best course in the world outside the United States.[3][4] Ballybunion’s success has led to new visitors from around the world booking tours of this and many other golfing jewel locations.[5] However, Ballybunion houses not one but two courses; those being The Old Course and The Cashen Course.

During his second term, U.S. President Bill Clinton played the course in September 1998.[8] A statue of him with a golf club in the town of Ballybunion commemorates the visit.[9] After leaving office, he returned in May 2001.[10]

The club is located south of town on Sandhill Road.

Portmarnock Old

On Christmas Eve 1893, an insurance broker named W.C.Pickeman and his friend George Ross rowed over from Sutton to Portmarnock peninsula to explore the possibility of creating a golf links. The peninsula is about two miles long and covers over 500 acres. The course opened on St. Stephen’s day 1894 with nine holes. It was extended to eighteen holes in 1896 with a new clubhouse and a further nine holes were added in 1971. The championship course follows the original layout although considerably lengthened (over 7,500 yards of the Championship tees). The only major change in the routing was the insertion in 1927 of a new now famous par three, the 15th hole.

Portmarnock was the venue for the first Irish Open in 1927, and has hosted the tournament on many occasions since, including 13 following its revival in 1975.[1] Many other important golf tournaments have been held at the club, including the British Amateur Championship in 1949, the Walker Cup in 1991, and the Canada Cup in 1960.

Over the course of 121 years Portmarnock Golf Club has welcomed some of the greatest players in the world from early greats such as Harry Vardon, Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke to the first super star of golf Arnold Palmer. In recent years Pádraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Paul McGinley and Tiger Woods have all walked the pristine links fairways.

The links green rates and online tee times are available online.[2] It is regularly famed as one of the world’s greatest links golf clubs. In 2014/15 it was voted as the best golf links in Ireland through Golf Digest magazine.

Some notable quotations from Professional Golfers

  • Pádraig Harrington – “Portmarnock is the fairest links I have ever played, which is unusual because links golf by its very nature can be unfair. It is almost perfectly balanced in that it is both challenging and demanding for every level of golfer… stern an exam as a professional could wish for from the back tees, and an equally strict test for the more modest player off the medal tees. ”
  • Tiger Woods – “One of the most enjoyable links courses I have had an opportunity to play”
  • Tom Watson – “There are no tricks or nasty surprises, only an honest, albeit searching test of shot making skills.”
  • Seve Ballesteros – “I always enjoy my time in Ireland but in particular playing links golf at fantastic links courses like Portmarnock”
    Arnold Palmer – “Sam Sneed and I played in the Canada Cup at Portmarnock in 1961 and I recall saying to Sam on the way home that every aspect of our games was examined that week”
  • Phil Mickelson – “I had the opportunity and play in the 1991 Walker Cup at Portmarnock Golf Club and it was one of the great highlights of my Amateur days not only to represent the USA but also to enjoy the challenge of such a magnificent links course”


The records show that golf has been played in Tralee since 1896 in various locations such as Oakpark, Fenit, the site of the present day Austin Stack Park and most recently at a 9-hole parklands course at Mounthawk in Cahersalee all in the town of Tralee.[citation needed] In October 2009, Tralee Golf Club celebrated its 25th anniversary since its move from the town of Tralee to its present location on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean at West Barrow, Ardfert, Co. Kerry. The course was designed by Arnold Palmer.

Instituted October 1, 1896, Tralee Golf Club opened its present Arnold Palmer-designed course for play at Barrow in October, 1984, after moving from its nine-hole course at Mounthawk near Tralee. It was a great achievement for the Club. Having decided to buy land at Barrow back in 1980, the members dream of seeing the Club attain world-wide status has been realized.

Back in 1896 the Club had its first nine-hole course in Tralee, believed to be where the Sports field is now located. A year later, in 1897, it opened a nine-hole course in Fenit on the south-western side of Barrow Harbour. There were 120 members then (compared to today’s 1,300) who paid a subscription of 10 shillings a year, with visitors having one week free play as introduction.

During the ‘Troubles’, in the 1920’s, a Captain Lionel Hewson was hired to design a new course in Oakpark, Tralee. He was suspicious of the men who sat around on the demesne walls watching him while he measured and made notes. He wrote later that ‘bullets used to fly in those days on little provocation. He had reason to cast a wary eye – a Major McKinnon in the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary was shot dead on the course in March, 1921, while playing golf.

Phil Mickelson – “I had the opportunity and play in the 1991 Walker Cup at Portmarnock Golf Club and it was one of the great highlights of my Amateur days not only to represent the USA but also to enjoy the challenge of such a magnificent links course”


Lahinch Golf Club is a links golf course in the village of Lahinch on the northwest coast of County Clare, in northern Munster, Ireland. It is situated approximately 20 miles northwest of the town of Ennis. In 2016, Golf Digest ranked the Old Course at Lahinch #65 on their list of the world’s greatest golf courses.[1]

Founded in 1892 by officials of Limerick Golf Club Alexander W. Shaw and Richard J. Plummer, they laid out an 18-hole course, the original course had ten holes on each side of the road.It has often been described as the “St. Andrew’s” of Ireland. The original links was laid out by Old Tom Morris. Alister MacKenzie, who co-designed Augusta National Golf Club, redesigned the Old Course and extended the links in 1927 for a fee of £2000. Lahinch is actually two 18 hole courses, the Old Course, is between the road and the sea, situated at the opposite side of the road from the Old Course is the Castle Course. The Castle Course is a flatter links named after the ruins of a nearby castle tower that stands to the northof the course. One unusual feature of the Old Course is the presence of goats which are allowed to roam freely across the course. They were originally owned by a caddie who lived near the course, and in 1956 a goat was incorporated into the club’s logo.

Lahinch Golf Club is home to the South of Ireland Championship, an amateur golf tournament which began in 1895. Notable winners include Joe Carr in 1969, Darren Clarke in 1989, Paul McGinley in 1991 and Graeme McDowell in 2000. Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington finished runner up on two occasions.

Old Head of Kinsale

Old Head Golf Links is built on a 220-acre diamond of land jutting out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The promontory is almost an island with numerous caves running beneath your feet as you play the course. The links and practice area occupy 180 acres and the remaining 40 acres of unspoilt cliff frame the course. It is a piece of golf real estate like no other, that causes many a golfer and visitor to pinch themselves as they drive through the ancient gateway with the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean some 300 feet below.

Occupying a stunning and unique headland reaching out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the Old Head of Kinsale is home to the most spectacular world-class golf course and luxury members’ accommodation.

Located in County Cork on the South West Coast of Ireland, as the incredible brainchild of the late John O’Connor together with his brother Patrick, the Club has developed into one of the most recognised and sought after golf experiences anywhere on earth. It is a sanctuary for those seeking the finest in personalized service.


Definitely among the friendliest of clubs, it has a charming clubhouse and bar. Opened in 1889, it is one of Ireland’s oldest links. Sixteen of the holes have been redesigned in recent years, without changing the quaint character of this special, if deceptive, 6,000-yard track where scores are generally hard-earned. Also home to the protected natterjack toad which features on the club’s logo.

The course is set out on one of three stretches of sand dunes at the head of Dingle Bay. The course is known to be the hidden gem of the south-west, with golfers getting to experience links golf at it’s best without the premium green fee. The number of rounds played has been growing year on year and 2017 is set to be it’s most successful year to date.

The front 9 features some tightly laid out holes where accuracy is paramount. Most notable is the par-4 7th which is almost impossible to reach in 2 if the wind is against. The 150 yard 13th hole has been quoted as a throwback to the time when golf began, with the approach playing into an amphitheatre style green. The closing hole, a long, slightly uphill par 4 to a guarded green provides a tough ending to a wonderful track.

Druids Glen

njoy the tranquillity of the mystical Druids Glen, with manicured tree-lined fairways, historical landmarks, spectacular water features and vibrant floral displays.

This famous course designed by Pat Ruddy & Tom Craddock, opened in 1995. Just a year after opening, Druids Glen hosted the Irish Open for four years in a row. Colin Montgomerie won two years running, followed by David Carter and Sergio Garcia, shooting a 64 in the final round. Druids Glen has hosted the prestigious Seve Trophy, a bi-annual event between the leading Tour Players of Britain & Ireland and Continental Europe.

When you come to play at Druids Glen, you’re playing one of the finest, most challenging, and most enjoyable golf courses in Europe – a course good enough to host the most prominent event in Irish golf.