A Golfer’s Paradise
Story and photography courtesy of Golfscape
Ireland is home to some of the world’s most outstanding and masterful golf course designs. With over three hundred courses to choose from, Golfscape highlights eight of Ireland’s top golf destinations, as well as how to get to the Emerald Isle and where to stay during your visit. Their ultimate Ireland golf guide has everything you need to know, from signature holes to outdoor hotel activities. Select the course of your choice, book your stay at one of the luxurious hotels or a cozy Airbnb, and get ready to find your pot of gold.
Getting to Ireland can be done by flight or ferry. Aer Lingus, the national airline of Ireland, flies internationally to destinations all over the world. From in-flight entertainment to Wi-Fi in the sky, there’s no better way to start your travels. On the other hand, traveling to Ireland by ferry can be an exciting adventure. You get to bring your golf clubs along with no hassle—an old-fashioned journey to the green of dreams.
Whether you’re looking to experience the east, southwest, or northwest of Ireland, Golfscape has got you covered. Explore some of the country’s finest greens, challenge yourself on the fairways, and truly experience Ireland golf like never before.
Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links, Dublin
Just fifteen minutes from Dublin International Airport, Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links is the only coastal resort and links course in Dublin. One of Bernhard Langer’s magnificent designs, the course lies on the grounds of the old Jameson Estate of Saint Marnocks. The sixteenth is known as its signature hole, which requires an accurate shot from an elevated tee box—undeniably one of the most challenging holes at Portmarnock. Moreover, the challenging round is made worthwhile by the incredible hotel amenities. These include an award-winning spa and two highly awarded restaurants.
“It’s such a wonderful place,” says Katie Kearney, the American golf sensation and model. “Those greens—the entire golf course is spectacular and in perfect condition.”
Carton House, Kildare
Only a twenty-five-minute drive from the city center and Dublin International Airport, Carton House is a serene getaway from the hustle and bustle. Whether you’re looking for a challenging inland links-style course or a classic parkland experience, both set a challenge like no other. As one of the preferred golf courses in Ireland, the Montgomerie offers numerous bunkers and impeccable greens. Alternatively, the O’Meara surrounds you with ancient woodlands, a golden river, and a breathtaking historical backdrop on the eighteenth hole. With three outstanding eateries, wellness facilities, and a premium spa, Carton House presents you with a memorable experience where historic charm meets contemporary luxury.
Fota Island Resort, Cork
Fota Island Resort is home to three world-class championship golf courses: Deerpark, Belvelly, and Barryscourt. Beautifully set in parkland scenery, you’ll find yourself wandering through tall oak trees and magnificent woodlands. Pro golfer Pádraig Harrington’s favorite hole is the eighteenth island green on the Deerpark course; it is one of Ireland’s most remarkably picturesque golf holes. The resort also has a luxurious five-star hotel and spa, residential lodges, and an exceptional golf academy.
“The setting is gorgeous,” says Harrington. “You get to the top of the hill, and it is all presented to you—the clubhouse, the lake, mature trees, bunkers, shrubs—magnificent. And doesn’t everybody like being faced with a downhill shot to a big green?”
Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg
Spread across miles of crescent-shaped beach, Trump International Golf Links is a world-renowned championship golf course. The course earned its must-play status internationally following Dr. Martin Hawtree’s design philosophy of “least disturbance.” The design results in flourished land and enhanced playability. With unique identities for each hole, players simultaneously feel rewarded and challenged. Golfers have the opportunity to experience the unusual combination of five par threes and five par fives. Moreover, the luxurious five-star hotel suites, furnishings, and mesmerizing antiques will surround you with the ultimate in beauty and comfort.
Adare Manor, Adare
Reopened in April of 2018 following renovations, the Golf Course at Adare Manor brings a new standard to Irish championship golf courses. With fewer bunkers than any other Tom Fazio design, Adare Manor is a challenging but fair test. All eighteen greens benefit from a SubAir aeration system, which removes moisture and guarantees firm play every day; Adare Manor is one of three golf courses in the UK and Ireland to implement this system. The resort is set to host the prestigious Ryder Cup in 2026. Furthermore, it is located in the charming village of Adare in County Limerick, which is designated by the Irish government as a heritage town. You can even immerse yourself in an Irish gundog experience at one of Ireland’s leading hotels when you stay on-site at the Adare Manor castle resort. You definitely won’t regret it!
Castlemartyr Resort, Cork
The Castlemartyr Resort is home to an eighteen-hole inland links-style course designed by world-renowned golf course architect Ron Kirby. Both a visually pleasing and challenging experience, the course offers an excellent round for players of all abilities. Nestled in an old manor estate in East Cork, the course features walking trails for guests to enjoy while witnessing the birds and other wildlife within the beautiful grounds. The five-star escape features an oasis of calm at the spa along with an array of other activities such as carriage rides, fishing, and clay pigeon shooting.
County Sligo Golf Club, Sligo
County Sligo Golf Club, initially designed as a nine-hole course in 1894, is now a modern twenty-seven-hole complex with an outstanding clubhouse and state-of-the-art facilities. Home to many prestigious events, County Sligo is the annual host of the West of Ireland Championship, played and won in past years by Harrington, McIlroy, and Lowry. Here, you’ll experience antique charm at the clubhouse, which still retains the graceful Tudor-style facade from the original architecture. The golf club also has a nine-hole course and a superb driving range.
“A magnificent links and the stretch of holes from the fourteenth to seventeenth that run adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean is one of the best finishing stretches in golf,” says professional golfer Tom Watson.
Tralee Golf Club, Tralee
Known as Arnold Palmer’s Jewel, Tralee Golf Club is a daring course on a charming, rugged coastal stretch just eight miles from Tralee. From towering dunes to cliff-top tees, this golfing paradise is widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most excellent links courses. You can enjoy the magnificent views of the Sliabh Mish mountains from the clubhouse and practice your game in the purpose-built academy.
Palmer once said of Tralee Golf Club, “I may have designed the first nine, but surely God designed the back nine.”
Where to Stay
Not sure where to stay during your golf trip? Luckily, Portmarnock, Carton House, Fota Island, Trump Doonbeg, Adare Manor, and Castlemartyr Resort all include exceptional hotel facilities. In particular, Portmarnock’s Fire & Ice spa treatment will transport you to a sea of calm with a complete holistic experience. Golfers recommend trying the traditional afternoon tea at the charming Seaview restaurant, where you’ll also enjoy magnificent panoramic views—you’ll never want to leave. If you prefer to participate in outdoor activities, Fota Island Resort will leave you spoiled for choice. From archery to target practice, you’ll be sure to have your days filled with adrenaline and excitement.
If you’re looking to stay outside the course, there are many options available. If Dublin International Airport is the starting point of your visit to the Emerald Isle, you can spoil yourself at the refined Merrion in the heart of Dublin. This stylish hotel is home to Ireland’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant. It is also a short walk from museums, pubs, and galleries. If you’re planning to spend most of your time on the course rather than in a hotel, you can browse Airbnb for countless options. Find yourself a cozy place to stay and relax in your home away from home.
Explore Ireland Outside the Course
While playing golf in Ireland is enough to fulfill your journey, there’s a whole exciting world of history and culture to explore off the fairways. Take a trip to the Guinness Storehouse and learn the rich history of the famous Irish beer. Visit one of the many ancient monuments and castles around the isle—you might even be playing a round near one. Thanks to charming Irish hospitality, you’ll not only learn to play like a local, but you’ll also discover the ins and outs of the Emerald Isle.
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Visit Golfscape.com/ireland-golf-courses to learn more or start planning your trip.