Ballybunion Golf Club: Old Course Review, Green Fees, Tee Times and Key Info

The Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club is world-famous and blessed with some of the finest dunes in Ireland - it offers a brilliant rollercoaster of a ride

Ballybunion Golf Club Old Course
The breathtaking, rollercoaster par-4 eleventh on the Old Course at Ballybunion
(Image credit: Evan Schiller)

Top 100 Courses UK & Ireland 2023/24

(Image credit: Future)

Ballybunion Golf Club Key Information

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Header Cell - Column 0 Header Cell - Column 1
AddressSandhill Road, Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland
Phone00353 (0) 68 27146
Visitor TimesMon-Fri, mid-April to early October
ParMen 71, Women 74
SlopeWhite/M 131, Red/W 128
ArchitectJames McKenna

Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course

Golf Monthly Verdict

Ballybunion Old - Hole 14

(Image credit: Evan Schiller)

Once you work your way out to the shoreline, Ballybunion Old is blessed with some of the most dramatic and scenic holes in Ireland. It enjoys a worldwide reputation that is well deserved, and once you are in the dunes and along the coast, you may well not want to leave. There are so many exciting holes that you are more than likely to want to go back and play them again.

Reasons To Play Ballybunion

– Experience one of Ireland’s greatest and most dramatic links

– Follow in the footsteps of the great Tom Watson

– Play the Cashen Course too, the dunes are even more dramatic


UK & Ireland Top 100 Golf Courses 2021/22 - 23

Founded back in 1893, Ballybunion Golf Club has long held a worldwide reputation that draws in golfing pilgrims from near and far. Since way before the more contemporary additions of other Top 100 favourites such as Tralee, Doonbeg and the greatly improved Adare Manor, it has attracted keen golfers to its more traditional but also very wild and exciting links. It is undoubtedly one of the very best golf courses in Ireland.

Situated on Ireland’s rugged and beautiful Atlantic coast in County Kerry, the opening holes offer a reasonably gentle easing into the round. Things really take off from the 7th hole onwards, as from then just about all the way, you enjoy a thrilling and very scenic adventure through the dunes. Some of the holes cling precariously to the cliff-tops, while others duck and dive their way along and through the sandhills.

Several years ago, the club replaced all of its greens at the same time as improving all of the playing surfaces and paths. This investment has now bedded in, while most recently they have doubled the size of the closing green and enlarged the famous Sahara bunker at the end of its fairway.

Five-time Open champion Tom Watson - the club’s millennium captain who has also advised on a few changes over the years - has been a great fan since first visiting more than 40 years ago. Back then he described it as the best in the world, and that “after playing Ballybunion for the first time, a man would think that the game of golf originated here.”

Picking one standout hole from a course with several is very difficult. Many would probably go for the brilliant par-4 11th - named after the great man, Watsons. This fabulous hole slaloms its way along the shoreline via a series of shelves to a green that is guarded by such a narrow entrance and so many dips and hollows that no bunkering is needed. A par here feels not so much like a birdie as an eagle. The Old Course at Ballybunion, ably supported by the exciting Cashen Course, is one of many brilliant must-play courses along Ireland’s wild west coast.

Ballybunion Old - Hole 12

The par-3 twelfth on the Old Course

(Image credit: Evan Schiller)

What The Top 100 Panel Said

Chris Boakes Golf Monthly Top 100 panel
Chris Boakes

I would recommend experiencing both courses as they demonstrate how varied links golf can be on a similar slice of land. Likewise, both will open debate and marmite opinions. As with St Andrews being the essential pilgrimage priority of any trip to play the best golf courses in Scotland, Ballybunion occupies the similar post in Irish golf folk lore.

John Winter UK&I Top 100 panel
John Winter

Ballybunion is a ‘must play’, but grab the first tee time of the day to fully enjoy its beauty and challenge. The Atlantic coast with its naturalised bunkering and trademark gigantic dunes, perfectly frame many of the holes.

Ballybunion Golf Club Location

Ballybunion Golf Club Green Fees

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Old Course€300
Both Courses€400

Ballybunion Golf Club Old Course Scorecard

Ballybunion Golf Club Old Course scorecard

(Image credit: Ballybunion Golf Club)

Best Courses Near To Ballybunion



A few years ago, Tom Fazio redesigned this sumptuous parkland course which is now up there with the best presented in Europe. As at Augusta, to which it can now justifiably be compared, there is no rough to speak of, and the course will host what should be a spectacular 2027 Ryder Cup.



Whereas the back nine was always the star of Arnold Palmer’s magnificent coastal creation, recent improvements have seen this spectacular seaside course seriously up its game. It is now one of the most exciting and entertaining clifftop courses from start to finish.

Places To Stay Near Ballybunion

The 19th Golf Lodge - Book now at

This luxurious, 4-star boutique lodge is located directly opposite the golf club. It offers hearty breakfasts and luxury rooms, and has hosted many famous golfing legends, such as Tom Watson and Ian Woosnam.

McMunns of Ballybunion - Book now at

This hotel has a garden, a terrace, a restaurant and a bar all just down the road in Ballybunion. There are 8 bright spacious modern rooms, all of which have large high-pressure showers, 42 inch smart TVs, a super-king size bed and Nespresso coffee maker.

Ballybunion Golf Club Gallery

Historical Top 100 Rankings UK&I

  • 2023/24 23
  • 2021/22 25
  • 2019/20 22
  • 2017/18 15
  • 2015/16 16
  • 2013/14 13
  • 2011/12 09
  • 2009/10 06

Frequently Asked Questions

Has Ballybunion ever hosted the Irish Open?

Just the once, back in 2000, when it was won by Swede, Patrik Sjöland.

Is the second course at Ballybunion worth playing?

Definitely! When The Cashen opened in the early 1980s, it was occasionally touted as being an equal to the Old. While this may be an exaggeration, it is blessed with even more magnificent dunes and a thrilling Trent Jones design.

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for 45 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,200 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during that year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but seven and a half... i.e. not the new 9 at Carne! During the 2021-22 review period, Rob played 36 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at