Golfing in Ireland: The Perfect Irish Golfing Getaway

Golfing in Ireland - Donegal Golf Club

Updated On: May 18, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Are you a keen golfer looking to experience world-class golf courses? Then, a golfing break to Ireland is calling you! Golfing in Ireland is one of the country’s ever-growing and loved sports.

Ireland is famous for its exceptional golf courses and producing some of the world’s most talented golfers, including Rory McIlroy, Darren Clake and Graeme McDowell.

Also, the Irish golf courses are located in some of the most magnificent spots in the world, making the golfing experience even better for those who enjoy the sport.

Ireland is the place to be for golf. After all, it’s home to a quarter of the world’s naturally linked golf courses. You can craft your golfing techniques on the Irish courses, which have helped to produce world-class players.

A Historical Perspective

Golf in Ireland has a long and storied history, dating back to the 19th century. The Royal Curragh Golf Club, established in 1858, is recognised as the oldest golf club in Ireland. Since then, the sport has flourished, and the country now boasts some of the most prestigious golf courses in the world.

The establishment of the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) in 1891, the oldest golfing union in the world, further cemented Ireland’s place in golfing history. This dedication to the sport is evident in the quality and variety of courses available, many of which have hosted major championships and are regularly ranked among the best in the world.

Here’s a list of the best Golf Courses in Ireland:

1. Royal County Down Golf Course, County Antrim

This Northern Irish golf course has often been named one of the most renowned in the country. Just last year, ‘Golf Digest Ireland’ named Royal County Down the number one golf course in Ireland (2018).

Rightly so, this Irish golf course deserves that title as it isn’t short of impressive.

Royal County Down is in Newcastle, a small seaside town near the striking Mourne Mountains.

Golfers coming to Ireland won’t be disappointed by the championship link courses here. The link courses are a firm favourite for their fantastic design created by Old Tom Morris and over 120 architectures, providing a different view and experience from each hole.

Royal County Down Golf Club was opened over 130 years ago and is considered one of Ireland’s oldest courses. Golfers from around the world often admire the fourth and ninth holes, which are featured in the book ‘The 500 World’s Greatest Golf Holes’.

Irish Golfer Rory McIlroy even stated that this Northern Irish course is his favourite worldwide.

If you’re looking to experience a quality golf course with a phenomenal history, this is one you can’t pass by. After all, it’s recommended by one of the best golfers on the planet.

2. Portmarnock Golf Club, County Dublin

Portmarnock Golf Club, Dublin, Ireland

Next is another one of the world’s best-ranked golf courses, Portmarnock Golf Club, founded in 1984. This Irish golf course is often recognised for helping to promote the progression of golf in Ireland.

Many professional and amateur golfing tournaments have been hosted at Portmarnock Golf Club, including the Irish Open Championships and the British and Irish Amateur Championships.

Portmarnock Golf Club is a very respected course. It has seen world-famous golfers such as Sam Snead and Seve Ballesteros, two amazingly talented golfers of their time, play on the course.

This Irish course is one of fairest linked courses in the world, offering a magnificent course for those looking a challenge and to test their golfing skills.

It’s also beautifully located within the picturesque Irish coastline, just 15 minutes outside Dublin City. Whether you’re a golfing pro or just learning, the practice facilities are set to championship standards at Portmarnock.

3. Royal Portrush Golf Club, County Antrim

Beautiful Photo of the Royal Portrush Golf Course, County Antrim
Beautiful Photo of the Royal Portrush Golf Course, County Antrim

This next golf course is the only club in Ireland to have hosted the world-renowned Open Championships. Royal Portrush Golf Club offers two challenging link golf courses: the Dunluce Course and the hidden gem Valley Course.

The Irish golf course welcomes visitors all year round to test their legendary courses, ranked number seven in the World’s Greatest Golf Course by Golf Digest (2017).

Both courses at Royal Portrush offer 18 holes, and they are designed to test the best of golfers with their rough greens and unpredictable weather; no game of golf is ever dull here.

Harry Colt, one of the world’s most impressive golf architects, is the mastermind behind the course’s design. It’s one of our favourite places to golf in Ireland, and although the Dunluce Course is famous, we recommend experiencing the Valley Course as well.

The course is popular with golf lovers all over the world. It has hosted many popular tournaments throughout the years, including the Irish Open, most recently in 2012, The Amateur Championship in 2014, and The Open Championship in 2019.

4. Tralee Golf Club, County Kerry

Tralee Golf Club, Co. Kerry, Ireland – PerryGolf.com

The talented and famous American golfer Arnold Palmer is behind Tralee Golf Club, his first European course design. This Irish golf course is in one of the most splendid locations along Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coast.

Tralee Golf Club offers golfers the opportunity to experience its smooth fairways, towering dunes, and testing greens on its magnificent 18-hole course. There is also an additional par 3 course to check out.

The Arnold Palmer course was first opened in 1984 on a seaside links site in Barrow, helping to give Tralee Golf Club global status. Ever since then, the club has grown in popularity. It now has over 1,300 members, compared to its original 120 in 1896, when Tralee Golf Club was instituted.

The club’s gorgeous setting is truly a treasure in itself, making for an unforgettable golfing trip in Ireland.

5. Donegal Golf Club, County Donegal

Donegal Golf Club Course
Donegal Golf Club Course

As we reach the end of our guide on the best places to golf in Ireland, we can’t forget to mention the stunning Donegal Golf Club.

Like most of the courses we have brought to your attention, Donegal Golf Club offers another of Ireland’s finest links courses. It also has important geological significance, as it’s been inhabited for past centuries, making it even more historical to play on.

The creative and fun course, designed by the great Irish golf architect Eddie Hackett, offers both men and women a par 73 challenge. Donegal Golf Club is constantly being improved and boosted to excite golfers.

This Irish golf course offers a driving range, putting, practice, and chipping areas. What we love most about this course is its secludedness and tranquil location, which provide the best-undisturbed golfing experience.

The Irish Golfing Experience

Golfing in Ireland is not just about the courses but the entire experience. From the moment you set foot on Irish soil, you are greeted with a sense of warmth and hospitality that is uniquely Irish. Here are some aspects that make golfing in Ireland a truly memorable experience:

Breathtaking Scenery

Ireland’s natural beauty is legendary, and its golf courses are no exception. Many of the country’s top courses are set against dramatic backdrops of rolling hills, rugged coastlines, and pristine beaches. The ever-changing weather adds an element of unpredictability, making each round of golf a unique adventure.

Rich History and Culture

Each golf course in Ireland has its own story, steeped in history and tradition. Whether it’s the ancient ruins that dot the landscape or the historic clubhouses that have stood the test of time, a sense of history permeates every round of golf. Additionally, the local culture is vibrant and welcoming, with traditional music, dance, and cuisine to be enjoyed after a day on the links.

Warm Hospitality

The Irish are known for their friendliness and hospitality, which also extends to the golf courses. Visitors are welcomed with open arms, and there is a strong sense of camaraderie among golfers. Whether you’re enjoying a pint of Guinness in the clubhouse or chatting with fellow golfers on the course, you’ll feel like part of the community.

World-Class Accommodation

Ireland offers a range of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget. There is something for everyone, from luxurious five-star hotels and historic castles to cosy bed and breakfasts and self-catering cottages. Many golf resorts offer stay-and-play packages, allowing you to make the most of your golfing getaway.

Gastronomic Delights

Irish cuisine has improved greatly in recent years, with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. After a day on the course, you can indulge in a hearty meal at one of the many excellent restaurants and pubs. Seafood is a particular highlight, with dishes featuring fresh fish, oysters, and mussels from the nearby waters. Don’t forget to sample some traditional Irish fare, such as Irish stew, soda bread, and a pint of Guinness.

Golfing Events and Tournaments

Ireland has several prestigious golfing events and tournaments, attracting top players worldwide. These events offer an excellent opportunity to see world-class golf up close and experience the excitement and atmosphere of a major tournament.

The Irish Open

Round 1 Highlights | 2023 Horizon Irish Open

    The Irish Open is one of the most significant events on the European Tour, attracting some of the biggest names in golf. Each year, the tournament is held at different courses across Ireland, showcasing the country’s diverse and challenging golf courses. Recent venues have included Lahinch Golf Club, Ballyliffin Golf Club, and Mount Juliet Estate.

    The Open Championship

      While The Open Championship is typically held in Scotland or England, Ireland occasionally hosts the prestigious tournament. Most notably, the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland hosted The Open in 2019, marking a triumphant return to the venue after nearly 70 years. The event’s success highlighted Ireland’s ability to host major golfing tournaments and further solidified its reputation as a world-class destination.

      The Walker Cup

        The Walker Cup, a biennial team competition between amateur golfers from Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States, has been held in Ireland several times. Prestigious courses like Portmarnock and Royal County Down have hosted this event, providing a platform for the best amateur golfers to showcase their skills.

        Planning Your Irish Golfing Getaway

        Planning a golfing trip to Ireland requires preparation to ensure you make the most of your time on the Emerald Isle. Here are some tips to help you plan your perfect Irish golfing getaway:

        Research and Book Early

          Ireland’s top golf courses are in high demand, particularly during the peak golfing season from April to October. To secure your preferred tee times, accommodation, and travel arrangements, it’s advisable to book well in advance. Many courses and resorts offer online booking systems, making planning your trip from the comfort of your home easy.

          Pack for the Weather

            Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable, with rain and wind often appearing even in the summer months. Pack appropriate clothing, including waterproofs, layers, and comfortable golf shoes. A good-quality umbrella and a sturdy golf bag cover are also essential to keep your clubs dry.

            Explore Beyond the Course

              While golf may be the main focus of your trip, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Ireland’s rich cultural and natural attractions. Take some time to visit historic sites, such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and the Giant’s Causeway. Enjoy the vibrant cities of Dublin, Galway, and Cork, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and nightlife.

              Hire a Car

                Ireland’s best golf courses are often located in remote and picturesque areas, so having a car can be very convenient. Hiring a car allows you the flexibility to explore the countryside at your own pace and visit multiple courses during your stay. Just remember that in Ireland, driving is on the left side of the road.

                Consider a Golf Tour Operator

                  If you prefer a hassle-free experience, consider booking your trip through a golf tour operator. These companies specialise in organising golfing holidays and can arrange everything from tee times and accommodation to transportation and guided tours. They can also offer insider knowledge and recommendations to enhance your trip.

                  Conclusion

                  Golfing in Ireland offers an experience like no other. The combination of world-class courses, stunning scenery, rich history, and warm hospitality makes it a dream destination for golfers of all levels. Whether navigating the challenging links of Royal County Down, taking in the coastal beauty of Ballybunion, or enjoying a pint in a local pub after a round at Portmarnock, you’re sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.

                  As you plan your Irish golfing getaway, remember to savour the golf and the entire experience Ireland offers. The Emerald Isle awaits, ready to welcome you with open arms and provide an unforgettable golfing adventure.

                  Do you have a favourite golf course in Ireland? Are you planning any golfing trips to Ireland soon? Let us know in the comments below 🙂

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