Best Golf Courses In Ireland

The best golf courses in Ireland range from amazing links and clifftop courses both modern and old to stunning parkland gems...

Old Head Golf Links general view
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Best Golf Courses in Ireland

The best golf courses in Ireland include some of the world's greatest links courses and some beautiful inland gems.The country is full of amazing golf wherever you look and is a hugely popular destination for UK, US and global travellers.

The Golf Monthly Top 100 golf courses list features 18 Irish golf courses and they're all listed below in order of ranking. Our top-rated Republic of Ireland course is The European Club whilst other highlights include Ballybunion, Waterville, Lahinch, Portmarnock and many others. The sensational parkland gem at Adare Manor also features highly and is ranked as the country's best inland course. It welcomes the Ryder Cup in 2027, which will be the 100th anniversary of the much-loved match.

This list only features golf courses in the Republic of Ireland so check out our best golf courses in Northern Ireland list for north of the border, which includes 2019 Open venue Royal Portrush and our number one course in the UK&I - Royal County Down.

Below we list the best golf courses in Ireland...

The European Club

The European Club pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Brittas Bay, County Wicklow
  • Founded: 1987
  • Designed by: Pat Ruddy
  • Green fee: €230
  • Top 100 ranking: 19th

Back in the 1980s, Irish golf writer and golf course architect, Pat Ruddy was determined to have a golf course of his own. Perhaps fearing that the scope to develop classic linksland into little pieces of golfing heaven would only diminish over time, he set out on a helicopter reconnaissance mission in 1987 to find the perfect spot. The fruits of that mission turned out to be Brittas Bay in County Wicklow, and six years later, dream became reality when his European Club opened for play there. Five holes hug the beach closely with the 12th green being particularly memorable in the fact it stretches a 9-iron from front to back. Recent work has widened the fairways and there is now a larger 15th green up on the cliff. A wonderful blend of fun and challenge.

- Full The European Club review

Waterville

Waterville Golf Links pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Waterville, County Kerry
  • Founded: 1973
  • Designed by: Eddie Hackett and Claude Harmon
  • Green fee: €250
  • Top 100 ranking: 20th

While the layout is still relatively young, it has the look and feel of a course that has been here forever. Almost completely surrounded by water, there are views over to the mountains and it is an excellent test of golf. More recently, Tom Fazio completed a project to make the topography more consistent throughout while enhancing the challenge, beauty and traditional links playing surfaces. It's an excellent test situated alongside a peaceful, expansive and beautiful bay. Magical, mystical, wondrous. Waterville is all of these things and more.

- Full Waterville Golf Links review

Adare Manor

Adare Manor general view

(Image credit: ©2018 LC Lambrecht)
  • Location: Adare, County Limerick
  • Founded: 1995 (re-designed 2016)
  • Designed by: Robert Trent Jones Sr (Tom Fazio re-design)
  • Green fee: €395
  • Top 100 ranking: 23rd

This course had been closed for a full two years in order of a renovation and the result has made it undoubtedly the best inland course in Ireland that now ranks as the 4th-best inland golf course in the entire UK and Ireland. State-of-the-art drainage was installed with more than 6,600 square meters of new bunkering and completely new playing surfaces. It is arguably the most Augusta-like experience anywhere this side of the pond. The 2027 Ryder Cup will be hosted at this parkland gem, 100 years after the first match - it's set to be an incredible week.

- Full Adare Manor Golf Course review

Ballybunion - Old

Ballybunion Old course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Ballybunion, County Kerry
  • Founded: 1893
  • Designed by: Robert Trent Jones Sr
  • Green fee: €250
  • Top 100 ranking: 25th

The course is on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, in County Kerry, and while the opening holes offer a more gentle easing into the round, the fireworks well and truly ignite from the 7th onwards. Almost without a break to the end of the round, you enjoy a thrilling rollercoaster ride through the dunes. While some of the holes cling to the cliff-tops, others nudge and elbow their way down and along through the sandhills. Sometimes it is both. Five-time Open champion Tom Watson is a huge fan. He played the course 40 years ago and described it as the best in the world. "After playing Ballybunion for the first time, a man would think that the game of golf originated here.” He would later return to advise on some course changes, and also to serve as the club’s millennium captain.

- Full Ballybunion Old Course review

Lahinch - Old

Lahinch pictured from above

(Image credit: Steve Carr)
  • Location: Lahinch, County Clare
  • Founded: 1892
  • Designed by: Alister MacKenzie
  • Green fee: €240
  • Top 100 ranking: 26th

Lahinch played host to a thrilling Irish Open in 2019, won in some style by Jon Rahm. The event showcased the quality of the design and test offered by the Old Course. That, combined with extensive works, has seen Lahinch climb six places to 26th our latest UK&I Top 100 rankings. Golf at Lahnich on the County Clare coast began in 1892 when two officials of Limerick Golf Club laid out 18 holes with the assistance of officers from the “Black Watch” regiment. Old Tom Morris made improvements in 1894 but it was Dr Alister MacKenzie who, in 1927, created the course largely still in play today.

- Full Lahinch Old Course review

Portmarnock - Red and Blue

Portmarnock Golf Links pictured

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Portmarnock, County Dublin
  • Founded: 1894
  • Designed by: William Pickeman
  • Green fee: €250-€425
  • Top 100 ranking: 27th

Set on a relatively flat and wonderfully sandy peninsula to the north of Dublin, the 27 holes at Portmarnock look exactly as though they were always destined for golf. And while the landscape may not have the towering dunes that occur elsewhere in the country, this is a serious championship test. It is extremely highly regarded and has long been ranked as one of the country’s very finest golfing examinations. Golf here dates back to 1894, and the course has hosted a huge number of prestigious titles including no fewer than 19 Irish Open Championships. More recently, in 2019, it was the home of the Amateur Championship

- Full Portmarnock Golf Club review

Old Head

The famous lighthouse hole at Old Head Golf Links pictured

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Kinsale, County Cork
  • Founded: 1997
  • Designed by: Ron Kirby
  • Green fee: €375
  • Top 100 ranking: 33rd

This spectacular track, laid out on a towering headland jutting into the Atlantic near Kinsale in County Cork, boasts elements of links and cliff-top golf… and arguably the most dramatic setting of any course in our Top 100. Many of the holes are stunning, but the 12th and 13th, near the headland’s slender neck and perilously close to sheer vertical drops, sum up the Old Head experience. In places, mixing cliff-top with links, defies belief with its incredible setting and series of spectacular holes. The experience and views on offer make Old Head one of the world's most incredible golf courses.

- Full Old Head Golf Links review

Trump International Doonbeg pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Doonbeg, County Clare
  • Founded: 2002
  • Designed by: Greg Norman
  • Green fee: €210-€240
  • Top 100 ranking: 43rd

Set amidst the incredible dunes overlooking Doughmore Bay in County Clare, Greg Norman’s brilliant layout has been further enhanced by Martin Hawtree since the Trump Organization took over in 2014.. The course begins with one of the greatest opening holes in golf, a fabulous par-5 that takes you through the tunes to an amphitheatre green. It raises the expectation of what is to come, and that expectation is met with a tremendous selection of strikingly memorable holes that are supremely enjoyable simply to behold, let alone to play.

- Full Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg review

Rosapenna - Sandy Hills

Rosapenna Sandy Hills pictured along the coastline


(Image credit: Larry Lambrecht)
  • Location: Rosapenna, Donegal
  • Founded: 2003 
  • Designed by: Pat Ruddy
  • Green fee: €110-€210
  • Top 100 ranking: 46th

It’s hard to believe the Sandy Hills Links is less than 20 years old, the Pat Ruddy design opened in just 2003. Carved through the dunes, this superb layout has quickly earned a reputation as one of the finest modern links in Ireland. Sandy Hills is one of the great examples of course design from the last 25 years. It makes the very most of this dramatic coastal landscape, delivering a superb variety of unique, memorable and challenging golf holes. It’s tough, there’s no question about that, but it’s fair and it’s hugely enjoyable.

- Full Rosapenna Sandy Hills Course review

Tralee

Tralee Golf Club general view

An aerial view of the par 3, 3rd hole at Tralee Golf Club
(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Barrow West, County Kerry
  • Founded: 1984
  • Designed by: Arnold Palmer
  • Green fee: €250
  • Top 100 ranking: 48th

A small-town nine-hole Irish club securing Arnold Palmer’s services to create its new 18-hole layout was a remarkable coup. But the King was clearly seduced by the spectacular seaside plot high above the beach at West Barrow that Tralee Golf Club had in mind.The dream layout Palmer created in the mid-1980s mixes links and clifftop golf over two contrasting nines. The back nine was always the star here but the latest upgrades will see an already good front nine seriously up its game.

- Full Tralee Golf Club review

County Louth

County Louth Golf course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Baltray, County Louth
  • Founded: 1892
  • Designed by: Tom Simpson
  • Green fee: €165-€185
  • Top 100 ranking: 59th

Although County Louth Golf Club dates back to 1892, the course is largely the work of Tom Simpson in 1938. Despite, or rather because of some more recent changes from Tom MacKenzie, it remains traditional, stirring, bracing seaside golf at its best. It’s a strong layout that has played host to numerous top-level competitions over the years. It was host to the Irish Open in 2004 and again in 2009 when Shane Lowry famously won the event as an amateur. It's also a regular host to the East of Ireland Championship. The wind is almost always a factor at County Louth, or Baltray, and you need to be able to shape the ball both ways to score well.

- Full County Louth Golf Club review

Ballyliffin - Glashedy

Ballyliffin Glashedyn course pictured


(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Ballyliffin, Donegal
  • Founded: 1995
  • Designed by: Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock
  • Green fee: €200
  • Top 100 ranking: 68th

The Glashedy, one of two Top 100 courses at Ballyliffin, was designed by the great Pat Ruddy along with his friend and creative partner Tom Craddock, and it is a thoroughly exciting modern links featuring punishing bunkers and fast-running fairways. The views are outstanding, both internally over the course and of the surrounding scenery and the sea. This serious championship test runs over a lunar-like landscape, and with its large, testing greens, it will test every element of your game. If the bunkers are not trouble enough, there are times when the wind is blowing, which is often, that it is a brute. 

- Full Ballyliffin Glashedy Course review

The Island

The Island GC pictured

(Image credit: Steve Carr)
  • Location: Donabate, County Dublin
  • Founded: 1890
  • Designed by: Fred W. Hawtree, Eddie Hackett and Martin Hawtree
  • Green fee: €165-€240
  • Top 100 ranking: 72nd

For some reason, The Island is perhaps less well-known than it deserves to be given its location just ten miles from the centre of Dublin and its idyllic setting, surrounded on three sides by water and marshland with holes that weave through some of the tallest and most awe-inspiring dunes of any older links course. Word of its quality is spreading rapidly, though, and that looks set to continue apace following extensive recent work to remodel the opening half to take fuller advantage of the terrain.

- Full The Island Golf Club review

Druids Glen

A par-3 at Druids Glen Golf Club pictured

(Image credit: Druids Glen Golf Club)
  • Location: Newtown Mount Kennedy, County Wicklow
  • Founded: 1995
  • Designed by: Pat Ruddy & Tom Craddock
  • Green fee: €90-€120
  • Top 100 ranking: 82nd

A four-time Irish Open venue and one of the country's finest parkland tests - it ranks as the second-highest Irish inland course in our top 100. Architect Pat Ruddy may be more renowned for his spectacular Irish links, but Druids Glen is proof that he knows what he’s doing inland too. Water comes into play on many holes but it is the back stretch which stands out the most. 12th, 13th , 17th (island-green) and 18th spring to mind. 

- Full Druids Glen Golf Club review

Mount Juliet

Mount Juliet golf course pictured


  • Location: Mount Juliet, County Kilkenny
  • Founded: 1991
  • Designed by: Jack Nicklaus
  • Green fee: €110-€145
  • Top 100 ranking: 88th

Mount Juliet provides a truly majestic setting for the game and has matured extremely well over the course of three decades. Tranquil, beautiful and at times generously open, but with holes that are beautifully framed, this really is one of Ireland’s – and indeed the UK&I’s - very best modern parkland layouts. Many professional events have visited Mount Juliet, including the Irish Open three times in the 1990s and the WGC–American Express Championship twice, with Tiger and Ernie the victors. The Irish Open returned in 2021 for the first time in 26 years.

- Full Mount Juliet Golf Club review

County Sligo - Championship

County Sligo Golf Club general view

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Rosses Upper, County Sligo
  • Founded: 1894
  • Designed by: Harry Colt and Martin Hawtree
  • Green fee: €200-€215
  • Top 100 ranking: 90th

Founded in 1894, County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point is one of the oldest links in Ireland. Harry Colt was principally responsible for the design of the championship course and Martin Hawtree has advised the club on more recent improvements to the layout. It's a superb and spectacular links overlooked by Benbulben Mountain as well as being encircled by the sea. Throughout the round, the views and the golfing test are outstanding. When you reach the distant loop of holes around the turn, you feel as though you are in a different world.

- Full County Sligo Championship Course review

Enniscrone - Dunes

Enniscrone Dunes course pictured from above

  • Location: Enniscrone, County Sligo
  • Founded: 1918
  • Designed by: Eddie Hackett
  • Green fee: €135-€145
  • Top 100 ranking: 95th

Eddie Hackett is renowned for some of the most exciting and attractive courses in Ireland, and the fabulous Dunes Course at Enniscrone is a terrific example. Here, he took a more modest 9-holer and expanded it into an exciting voyage of discovery through the sand. The site is blessed with some of the most spectacular dunes in the country, and they are used to maximum and very dramatic effect. This is especially true as some years ago Donald Steel added a further nine at the same time as making greater use of the dunes for the original 18. Quite simply, it is nothing short of fun throughout all 18 holes and a round on the Dunes course will stay forever in the memory.

- Full Enniscrone Dunes Course review

Ballyliffin - Old

Ballyliffin Old Course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Ballyliffin, Donegal
  • Founded: 1947
  • Designed by: Eddie Hackett, Charles Lawrie, Frank Pennink, Tom Craddock, Pat Ruddy and Nick Faldo
  • Green fee: €180
  • Top 100 ranking: 99th

The older sibling of Glashedy dating back to 1973, was upgraded by Nick Faldo in the 90s and is perhaps the more subtle and refined of the two wonderful courses. Ballyliffin is the only Irish club to feature two entries in our UK&I top 100 list. Perhaps a little more forgiving than its younger sibling, it is certainly more traditional. Some also consider it to be the more fun of the two. Whatever your view on this, there is no doubting that it makes for a perfect companion and counterbalance, full of allure and character, while still a proper test in its own right.

- Full Ballyliffin Old Course review

What is the number one golf course in Ireland?

The number one golf course in the Republic of Ireland is The European Club in County Wicklow, according to the Golf Monthly UK&I Top 100 Golf Courses list.

How many golf courses are there in Ireland?

Ireland has a total of 494 golf courses according to 'Golf Around the World 2019', which was released by The R&A. 

What is the oldest golf course in Ireland?

Royal Curragh Golf Club in County Kildare is home to the oldest golf course in Ireland. The course sits on the Curragh plains, which is the oldest and most extensive tract of semi-natural grassland in the country according to the club.