10 of the best... Irish golf courses you must play this summer
It’s no wonder Ireland is teeming with world-class golfers. Sure aren't we surrounded by world-class golf courses? Whatever the weather, or budget, here are 10 courses you should get out and play this summer.
Royal County Down
Top course on this island in 2012 according to Golf Digest and fifth in the world according to Golf Magazine last year, the two 18-hole links courses available in Newcastle, Co Down is a gift to have right on our doorstep. Stunning to look at and even better to play, it was designed by Old Tom Morris and opened in 1889. It’s a true classic and while it’s a bit pricey, you are getting four or so hours on one of the world’s best courses.
Courses: Championship Links (18) and Annesley Links (18)
Green fees: Weekdays €205 per round am / €187 per round pm. Sunday pm €225 per round. Two rounds in one day €311. (Championship Links)
Tel: + 44 28 4372 3314
County Sligo Golf Course, more commonly known as Rosses Point, is probably best known as the home of the West of Ireland Championship, one of the most prestigious amateur titles in the country. Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy have all won it and you can test how good you are on the fine Sligo coast in the shadow of Benbulben.
Courses: Championship links (18) and Bomore Course (9)
Green fees: €95 for Championship Links, €25 for the Bomore
Tel: +353 71 9177186
Number two on the Golf Digest list and another stunning links course that regularly appears in lists of the world’s best. Once the home of the Irish Open, the Dublin course has had all the greats of the game stroll its fairways. It’s not cheap but it is in a fantastic location, very close to the city and airport, and offers a great test of coastal golf.
Course: Championship links (18) and Yellow Nine (9)
Green fees: €175
Tel: +353 1 8462968
Ireland is spoiled for links courses but Adare Manor in Limerick is generally regarded as our finest parkland course. Close to Shannon and Limerick city, the course record is 64, shot by Lee Westwood during the 2008 Irish Open.
Now, see if you can beat that.
Course: 18 holes
Green fees: €125, or €90 if you are staying in the hotel
Tel: +353 61 605200
You don’t have to spend a fortune to play some good links golf in Ireland. Corballis, in north Dublin, is a 5,114 yard, par 66 course and it offers you the chance to sample the thrills of links golf without the usual hefty charge.
Course: 18 holes
Green fees: €20 approx.
Click here to book a tee time
Kirkistown Castle Golf Club
Another links course but one that is easier on the pocket. The most easterly golf course in Ireland, the club is 100 years old this year and it is in a spectacular location on the Ards Peninsula. Designed by James Braid, a five time British Open winner, in 1934, he is the man who put Gleneagles and Carnoustie together. At the prices they charge, it’s a real bargain.
Course: 18 holes
Green fees: €34 weekday, €41 weekends.
Tel: +44 28 4277 1233
A beautiful course that boasts Rory McIlroy as its Touring Pro. With a five-star hotel attached, it’s a luxury location but you get a lot for your money.With a mix of links and parkland, right on the banks of Lough Erne, there are two 18-hole courses to choose from. The best known is the Faldo, designed by six-time Major winner Nick.
Courses: The Faldo Course (18) and Castle Hume Golf Course (18)
Green fees: From €130 for the Faldo, €30 for Castle Hume
Telephone: + 44 28 6632 3230
Home to two superb links course, the Old Course and the Cashen Course, the former is in the world’s top 20 courses according to Golf Magazine. While nearby giants like Waterville and the Old Head of Kinsale are both well worthy of inclusion, Ballybunion gets the nod here.
Though it has been around since the 19th Century, it wasn’t until Tom Watson said this in 1982 that it became an international phenomenon: “Nobody can call himself a golfer until he has played at Ballybunion; you would think the game originated there!"
Since then it has become a magnet for golfers around the world. It’s well worth the trip too.
Courses: Old Course (18) and the Cashen Course (18)
Green fees: From €180
Tel: +353 68 27146
The Wicklow course is one of the best parkland courses in the country. It hosted four Irish Opens (1996-1999) and the Seve Trophy in 2002 and it likes to go by the name of 'The Augusta of Europe'. That might be a bit overblown but it has some of the aspects of the home of the Masters, and it is magnificently maintained.
There is a second course there too, Druids Heath, but the original track is the one to have a go at and it won’t break the bank either.
Courses: Druids Glen (18) and Druids Heath (18)
Green fees: From €55
Tel: + 353 1 2870800
Home to the Irish Open this year, this jewel on the Antrim coast is a real gem, even by the incredibly high standards of Irish links golf. Tight, compact and huge fun to play, it was ranked number 14 in the world by Golf Magazine last year and is number three in Ireland, behind Royal County Down and Portmarnock in the Golf Digest rankings for 2012.
The Dunluce links is the only Irish course to ever host the British Open (in 1951) and it may well have another coming down the line after the success of the Irish Open. Get up there and experience it.
Courses: Dunluce Links (18) and Valley Green (18)
Green fees: From €175 for Dunluce links, Valley Green from €46
Tel: + 44 28 7082 2311