Ireland: The Emerald Isle
Home to the most spectacular and green links in the world.
Ireland is often referred to as "The Emerald Isle." This nickname comes from the countries rolling, green hills and lush landscapes. Considered by many the best golf links destination in the world even if it is a bit less traditional compared to Scotland and England, but still this destination has hosted The Open twice (Royal Portrush).
It features emblematic designs by Old Tom Morris, eminences such as Alister Mackenzie, and modern golf design signatures such as Nicklaus, Norman or Faldo. Great major golf pros like Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy are Irish.
Ireland offers so many great golfing options that you are going to have a hard time deciding where not to play.
Royal County Down
- Considered the best golf course in the world outside the US, and the #1 within the UK territory.
- Designed by Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon and Harry Colt. The two 18-hole links courses are amazingly scenic but be prepared to play in permanent windy conditions.
Royal Portrush (Dunluce)
- Designed by Harry Colt.
- This course is the only Irish course to host The Open and it has received the tournament in 1951 and 2019.
- Challenging golf and unlimited beauty: giant sand hills, views of the sea and links overlooking the ruins of the 13th century Dunluce Castle.
- Designed by Nick Faldo, founded in 2007, this course is located within the grounds of the 5 star Lough Erne Resort.
- As a gateway to North West Ireland, Lough Erne is the ideal base for a golfing break where you can combine a round on The Faldo Course or Castle Hume with some of Ireland’s best links and parkland courses nearby.
Other recommended golf courses
Ardglass, Portstewart, Malone, y Castlerock
Republic of Ireland
- On a beautiful stretch of majestic sand dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Old Course can be as difficult as Portrush or Royal County Down on a windy day.
- Designed by McKenna, Hewson, Simpson and Gourlay.
- This classic links course has been ranked among the best Ireland’s golf courses.
- This golf course was originally designed by Old Tom Morris; later its layout was renovated and improved by the great Alister Mackenzie.
- In 1935 the club committee redesigned the course as it considered the greens were too difficult, but in 1999 Martin Hawtree returned the course to its original Mackenzie design.
- Also, known as the "Royal Dornoch of Ireland" or the "Ballybunion of the North”.
- It was designed by Ruddy and Craddock, and opened in 1991.
- Take a moment to admire the great view of the Glashedy Rock from the course, equivalent to the Ailsa Craig of Turnberry.
- The layout runs along a sand dune filled coastline and has nine “par 4s” that extend over more than 400 yards.
Other recommended golf courses
Portmarnock, Waterville, European Club, Tralee y The K Club
Other things to do
The cities and towns of Ireland have plenty of nightlife and own a youthful vibe. Consider driving the scenic routes to admire the deep green landscapes and visiting small towns and beer bars.
Ireland is a great destination for fly fishing. Take advantage of the golf luggage bag and take along your fly fishing gear and catch some fish at Killarney and Lough Erne.
Must see attractions: The Giant's Causeway, The Dunluce Castle, Bushmills Distillery (the oldest in the world), the “Cliffs of Moher”, the Titanic Museum in Belfast and the original Guiness Distillery (the world's most famous black beer).
Thinking about playing more golf: add 4 nights in Southport UK and play “The 3 Royals” (Royal Lytham St. Annes, Royal Birkdale and Royal Liverpool) and then fly from Liverpool to Belfast or Dublin.
Where to stay
Ireland offers the unique possibility of staying in luxurious castles transformed into modern hotels, such as the Lough Erne Castle (located next to an excellent golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo), Carton House or Trump International Doonbeg. It also has resorts (such as Ballyliffin), lodges (such as Killarney), stunning 4 stars hotels (such as the Slieve Donard) and a variety of stylish bed and breakfast.
Time to book
Plan your trip five months in advance to secure availability in hotels and tee times in the courses you want to play (unlike Scotland, a destination that requires more anticipation).
When to travel
Ideally during the high season, which begins in May and ends in September. During the last weeks of April and the first weeks of October, you can expect to experience bad weather: moist and changeable with abundant rainfall.
How to get there
The best option is to fly to Europe via London, Frankfurt, Madrid or Paris and connect to Dublin or Belfast.