Ireland has over 400 golf clubs. Courses such as Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, Portmarnock and Ballybunion Golf Course are renowned worldwide.
Image: Golf in Ireland
History of golf in Ireland
Although most historians agree that the birthplace of golf occurred in Scotland, the sport has a rich and colorful history in Ireland. Dating back to the mid-1800s, one of the fascinating aspects of Ireland's golf history is that many of its oldest courses are still around today, giving players and tourists a first hand account of its history. Today, Ireland is one of the nations with the most golf courses per capita in the world.
Golf in the modern world originated from a game played on the eastern coast of Scotland in the Kingdom of Fife during the 15th century. Golf was officially introduced in Scotland in 1421. The game quickly spread throughout Europe due to the royal endorsement of King Charles I who brought the game to England. One of the oldest and most popular courses at the time was the Royal Curragh Golf Club, which opened in 1856. It quickly spread to Ireland from Scotland.
The Professional Golfers’ Association (Great Britain and Ireland) was founded in 1901 and is based out of The Belfry, England. It was established to professionalise careers in golf and grow the golf community in Great Britain and Ireland.
The Golfing Union of Ireland was established in 1891, making it the oldest national golfing union in the world. It is based out of Carton House, Maynooth. Union business is conducted by a Central Council and four smaller governing branches: Connacht, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster.
The Ladies’ Golf Union of Great Britain and Ireland was founded in 1893, just two years later. It is based out of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. The LGU works to provide women golfers opportunities to participate and compete and to aide British and Irish women in becoming successful golfers, domestically and internationally. The LGU also actively works to attain gender equality in golf and provide a unified voice to work for the interests of women golfers.
The Irish PGA Championship has been held annually at many of the nation's courses since its founding in 1907. It is the oldest tournament in Ireland. The Irish Open is a professional tournament established in 1927. It was revived in 1975 and is now on the European Tour and a qualifying event for the Open Championship. The Irish Amateur Open Championship is a 72 hole stroke play event established in 1892 by the Golfing Union of Ireland. It has been held at the Royal Dublin Golf Club since 2007. The Irish Senior Open is a 54 hole stroke play event in the European Seniors Tour. It was established in 1997. The Volopa Irish Challenge was established in 2015 and is a tournament on the Challenge Tour.
The Republic of Ireland has twenty-six different counties, seven different types of regions, and nearly 300 different courses to suit any golfers needs. Courses in the West offer views alongside the Atlantic Ocean which symbolize links-style golf instead of the standard Country Club "tree-lined" look. Then there are courses with great history such as Portmarnock in the Dublin region, which was home to fifteen Irish Opens. If you are looking to play what our golfing forefathers played on, then there are courses that were established in the 19th-Century such as Lahinch in County Clare (1894) and the Royal Curragh Golf Club in Kildare (1858) that still receive great amounts of play and tourism.
Below you will find a list of notable golf courses in Ireland with links to their websites.
Adare Manor Golf Club - provides a quality golfing experience, for members and visitors, on a uniquely scenic course, in a consistently friendly and welcoming manner. Their 18-hole parkland golf course is steeped in history and is recognised as one of the best hidden gems on the island of Ireland - Visit website
Ballybunion Golf Club - Located on the north west coast of County Kerry, on a beautiful stretch of sand dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, you'll find two wonderfully challenging and unique links golf courses at Ballybunion - the Old Course and the Trent Jones Cashen Course - Visit website
Ballyliffin Golf Club - Ballyliffin Golf Club is widely regarded as the finest links complex in Ireland boasting two championship links courses – The Old Links and Glashedy Links - Visit website
Belmullet Golf Club - Belmullet Golf Club for many years has gained a deserved reputation for being a very friendly place to play and visit and the members and staff are to be congratulated on maintaining this reputation, continuing to greet all our visitors with a typical “West of Ireland” welcome - Visit website
Blainroe Golf Club - They are delighted to welcome visiting players and to facilitate you, they have teetimes available nearly every day including weekends - Visit website
County Louth Golf Club - Located at Baltray, formerly a fisherman’s village at the mouth of the River Boyne, north of the medieval town of Drogheda, Co Louth Golf Club was established in 1892. The golf course sits on a 190 acre site of seaside links terrain and has built a reputation of being one of the finest and most enjoyable courses in Ireland. The present layout remains largely unchanged from the design laid out by renowned course architect Tom Simpson in 1938 - Visit website
County Sligo Golf CLub - The County Sligo Golf Club is widely regarded as one of the great championship links courses. It is located in the picturesque seaside village of Rosses Point just 8km from Sligo and known locally as “The Point”. Originally founded in 1894 as a 9 Hole course, it is now a modern 27 hole complex with spacious clubhouse and up to date facilities - Visit website
Donegal Golf Club - Donegal Golf Course is a links course built on a promontory of 182 acres that extends out into the Atlantic Ocean. The course, a par 73 for both men and women, consists of five Par 5's, four Par 3's and nine Par 4's, stretching over 7400 yards from the tips, with five regulation tees from each hole, plus a beginner tee - Visit website
Dooks Golf Club - If you are on a golfing break in County Kerry you won't want to miss the opportunity to play Dooks - a truly magical location for a stunning golf course. Experience breathtaking views and a unique links challenge that golfers have enjoyed since 1889 - Visit website
Druids Glen Golf Club - the perfect location for a golfing break in Ireland, where you can tee off on a course of champions in surroundings rich in history and prestige. The Druids Glen Course, is famous for hosting the Irish Open on four occasions – along with the prestigious Seve Trophy. Druids Heath once host to the Irish PGA Championship, is known as “nature’s gift to golf” weaving its way around quarries, trees, lakes and pot bunkers. Golfers can absorb the rare heathland course, the breath-taking setting, with views over the Irish Sea, on what was once the doorstep of the ancient Druids of Ireland - Visit website
Enniscrone Golf Club - Enniscrone is among the finest and most challenging of traditional Irish links golf courses and offers 27 holes on 400 acres of magnificent links land, featuring the par 73 Dunes Championship Links Course. The Dunes is one of Ireland’s top-ranked championship links courses; voted “Best in Connacht” by Golfers Guide to Ireland; repeatedly a top-15 links course in Golf Digest’s review of Irish golf courses and a perennial Top-100 UK course from Golf World. A “must play” as described by American golf novelist Tom Coyne - Visit website
European Club - The links of The European Club was designed by Pat Ruddy who continues after thirty years to calibrate the links to meet the challenges of the modern game allowing the champions of today to express themselves while demanding a cerebral approach for true success - Visit website
Fota Island Golf Club - The golf club boasts three championship standard golf course configurations - the original Deerpark (Par 71), Belvelly (Par 72) and Barryscourt (Par 73). The championship Cork golf club was proud host to the 2001, 2002 and 2014 Irish Open. In 2011 & 2012, the golf club also hosted the PGA Europro Audi Cork Irish Masters - Visit website
Headfort Golf Club - Headfort Golf Club is an outstanding 36 hole parkland complex dominated by magnificent specimen trees and river scenery. Both courses take full advantage of the natural beauty of one of Ireland’s oldest and finest estates - Visit website
Island Golf Club - The Island Golf Club is delighted to welcome visiting golfers from all over the world to enjoy the links. Consistently ranked among the top courses in Ireland, it is required playing for those wishing to gain a true links experience - Visit website
K Club - The Palmer Ryder Cup Course and The Smurfit Course are considered two of Europe's finest Championship Courses recently voted on the top ten worldwide golf resorts by CNN - Visit website
Killarney Golf and Fishing Club - At Killarney Golf Club they are delighted to be able to offer their visitors a range of courses to choose from. Each of their courses is immaculately kept, planned and designed, and they are very proud of the feedback they receive from both professional and amateur golfers on a daily basis - Visit website
Killeen Castle Golf Club - Jack Nicklaus is considered the greatest golfer of all time. With an unmatched 18 major championships in his career he has really done it all on the golf course. During his lifetime he has created many fantastic memories in golf and here at Killeen castle he has created a world class Jack Nicklaus Signature Design 18 hole Championship golf course - Visit website
Lahinch Golf Club - Located on the edge of the village, Lahinch Golf Club is known as the St. Andrew’s of Ireland, and has been a golfing mecca for over 100 years - Visit website
Mount Juliet Golf Course - Designed by Jack Nicklaus, Mount Juliet golf course first opened in 1991 with a friendly match between Jack Nicklaus and Christy O’Connor Snr. Since then, the course has established itself as a premier venue for top professional and leisure golfers from around the world - Visit website
Old Head Golf Links - The Old Head of Kinsale is home to a World-Class Golf Course and Luxury Members' Accommodation located in County Cork on the Southwest Coast of Ireland. The brainchild of the late John and his brother Patrick O’Connor, the Club has developed into one of the most recognised and sought after golf experiences - Visit website
Portmarnock Golf Club - One of the most respected venues in world golf. No other Irish course has been graced by so many distinguished players in a rich history encompassing a broad sweep of significant events - Visit website
Portsalon Golf Club - The club was one of the founder members of the Golfing Union of Ireland, the oldest golfing union in the world. Originally designed by Charles Thompson of Portrush, the layout has evolved over the decades with significant changes being undertaken under the guidance of Pat Ruddy in 2000 - Visit website
Rosapenna Golf Club - Rosapenna Golf Resort is home to two championship links courses in one stunning coastal location. Golfers have been travelling to Rosapenna since the late 19th century when the Old Tom Morris links was ranked 3rd in the British Isles behind St.Andrews and Royal County Down. It was for this reason that great golfers of their time Harry Vardon, James Braid and Tom Ball holidayed in Rosapenna - Visit website
Royal County Down - Opened 23 March 1889 and is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland. It has two 18-hole links courses, the Championship Course and the Annesley Links - Visit website
Royal Curragh Golf Club - Surrounded by historic sites and the famous race course, golf has been played at the Curragh since 1852. The golf course is situated on land which has been uncultivated since prehistoric times, allowing for the development of the exceptional heathland conditions and the uniqueness of the free-draining soil type and topology - Visit website
Royal Dublin Golf Club - founded in 1885, is Ireland's second oldest golf club. It is a private members' club - Visit website
Royal Portrush - Royal Portrush Golf Club is home to one of the best and most challenging links golf courses in the world, the Dunluce Links, and the hidden gem, the Valley Links. The only club in Ireland to have hosted The Open Championship, Royal Portrush is a members club which welcomes visitors all year round to face the challenges of its courses and to brave the testing conditions - Visit website
Tralee Golf Club - Designed and built by Arnold Palmer, this stunning setting represents a true paradise for those willing to challenge what is widely acclaimed as one of the finest links courses in the world - Visit website
Trump International Golf Links - Situated on over 400 acres of Ireland’s most spectacular links overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, Trump Doonbeg has been named the #1 Resort in Europe by Conde Nast Traveler, a World’s Best by Travel + Leisure, and many, many more - Visit website
Waterville Golf Club - Over forty of the world’s greatest champions from Sam Snead onwards have challenged the Links over the years. Prior to the 1998 Open, O'Meara, Stewart and Woods were joined by Appleby, Duval and Jansen, all of whom became members of Waterville - Visit website