Rathcore Golf Club Course Review

Rathcore Golf Club in Co. Meath is a 21st-century gem adorned with water features and hillocks that enhance its beauty and challenge

Rathcore Golf Club - 11th tee
The view from the 11th tee at Rathcore in Co. Meath
(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Rathcore Golf Club Course Review

GF €40
Par 72, 6,555 yards
Slope 131
GM Verdict – A modern, playful and neatly packaged parkland.
Favourite Hole – Played from a high tee, the par-3 11th has a green protected by water and a giant sycamore. 

Rathcore Golf Club - 5th green

The approach to the 5th green

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Take a smallish piece of shapely, rolling land (130 acres) with natural springs and a couple of gorse-drenched hillocks, and you have the perfect starting point for a modern-day parkland gem. There is no other way to describe Rathcore in Meath, the county to the north and west of Dublin, with Rathcore lying just 45 minutes due west of the Golf Monthly Top 100 links at Portmarnock, one of the best golf courses in Ireland. Opened in 2004, at a time when ‘big’ was the rage, Rathcore went the other way and presented golfers with a neatly packaged 6,555-yard par-72 course off the back white tees.

Rathcore Golf Club - 9th green

Water comes into play on 12 holes including up by the 9th green

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

It is such a pretty piece of land and the water features appear constantly during your round. They serve two purposes: to challenge – water impacts 12 holes; and to highlight idyllic green settings. Nowhere is that more evident than on the stretch of holes from 6 to 11, where those water features are enhanced by stone-fronted walls. If you’re after even more charm the course’s hillocks embrace two ring forts… and a fairy ring.

Rathcore Golf Club - 6th green

Looking across to the 6th green from the 17th fairway

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Rathcore was designed by Irish architect, Mel Flanagan, and his smart routing ensures that you return to the clubhouse on each loop of nine holes. The design also ensures the hillocks are well used. Two tees (6 and 11) are positioned at the top of one and greens are wedged into the bases of both. It all slots together so comfortably. There are big, booming tee shots to be hit… and there are just as many that demand caution. On the four very short par 4s – the 6th and 7th are 317- and 300-yard beauties respectively – hitting your driver on all but one of them (17) is foolhardy. The two longest par 4s measure 465 yards (8th) and 442 yards (12th) and are comfortably Index 1 and 2. Neither has water. The four par 5s fall between 472 and 532 yards. The variety on such a small site is hugely impressive and it’s a round that will bring constant flourishes of joy.

Ratchore Golf Club - 16th hole

The 16th is one of two signature par 3s on the back nine

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Perhaps what sums up Rathcore’s brilliance best is the signature par 3 pairing on the 11th and 16th. They face in opposite directions and use the same reed-laced pond. The 11th steals it as it hits from the high hillock with the green jutting out into the water, but the 16th is a touch longer at 178 yards… and far tougher (Index 6).

Kevin Markham
Freelance writer and photographer

Kevin Markham stepped into a campervan in 2007, and spent the next 14 months playing every 18-hole golf course in Ireland… 360 of them. He wrote two books on the back of those travels and has been working in the golf industry ever since, both as a freelance writer and a photographer. His love of golf courses has seen him playing extensively in Scotland, as well as across Europe. In total, he has played over 550 courses including most of Scotland’s top 100, and over half of Portugal’s growing number. He writes for the Irish Examiner newspaper, Irish Golfer magazine, and Destination Golf, and is a regular contributor to Golf Monthly. He has his own photography website – kevinmarkhamphotography.com – and spends hours on golf courses waiting to capture the perfect sunrise or sunset.

Kevin can be contacted via Twitter - @kevinmarkham