The 18 Best Courses in Ireland

Doonbeg, October 2008
Doonbeg G.C.
Since opening in 2002, Doonbeg has been tweaked for reasons of playability, but the gorgeous views of the Irish coast remain.
1. Royal County Down
Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland (Private)
Course finder profile | Official Site
Northern Ireland's most socially conscious golf club, and one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, is awash in doctors, lawyers, judges and industrialists, mainly from Belfast. There's no waiting list, not that it matters: few members leave before death and membership is by invitation only.
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2. Royal Portrush (Dunluce)
County Antrim, Portrush, Northern Ireland (Semi-private)
Course finder profile | Official Site
Royal Portrush hosted the first professional tournament in Ireland in 1895. In 1951, the course hosted the only Open Championship ever held in Ireland.

3. Ballybunion (Old)
Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland (Semi-private)
Course finder profile | Official Site
Located on the Shannon estuary, the Old course at Ballybunion is a seaside links with very few trees. The course is widely considered to be one of the greatest in the world and is a fixture on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses in the World.

4. Portmarnock (Old)
Portmarnock, Ireland (Semi-private)
Course finder profile | Official Site
Curving along a stretch of coastline on the Howth peninsula just 12 miles from downtown Dublin, Portmarnock has played host to a dozen Irish Opens. The course has three nines -- Yellow, Red and Blue, with the latter two combined to make up the Championship course.

5. Lahinch
Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland (Semi-private)
Course finder profile | Official Site
Started by Old Tom Morris in 1894, English designer Martin Hawtree gave the greens more size and slope, adding bunkers and reshaping fairways. The result is a remade masterpiece that will gladden the heart of 16-handicappers and Tour pros alike. (Phil Mickelson has called it his favorite links course.)
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6. European Club
Wicklow, Ireland (Semi-private)
Course finder profile | Official Site
The course sits in massive sand dunes alongside the Irish Sea, about an hour south of downtown Dublin. The European Club has slender fairways, few blind shots and a collection of superb par 4s.
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7. Waterville
Ring of Kerry, Ireland (Semi-private)
Official Site

8. Old Head
Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland (Semi-private)
Course finder profile | Official Site
There's value at Old Head past the vistas, and it comes from the people who make your day unique. As a visitor, you typically get a tee time and someone to point you toward the locker room. At Old Head you get the sense that you are not only about to do something very special, but that everyone is happy for you to be doing so.
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9. Tralee
Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland (Semi-private)
Official Site

10. Doonbeg
County Clare, Ireland (Resort)
Course finder profile | Official Site
Doonbeg debuted in 2002 to acclaim for its beauty and criticism for its difficulty. The owners widened some fairways, yanked out the odd bunker and removed plots of ball-swallowing rough (under protest from designer Greg Norman). The result is improved playability and a faster pace of play. It's still a beast when the wind howls, but it's a more fun experience.
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11. Belmullet (Carne)
Carne, Belmullet, Co. Mayo, Ireland (Semi-private)
Course finder profile | Official Site
Mountainous dunes collide like freight trains at this short 6,119-yard links. Only 18 bunkers were built here; the terrain is defense enough.
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