Ireland is a terrific vacation destination for golfers of all abilities, with exceptional championship courses, accommodation to fit every budget, beautiful scenery and a warm welcome wherever you decide to play.
The emergence of McIlroy, McDowell, Clarke and Harrington as top players in the world of professional golf has seen a renewed interest in Irish golf vacations.
As an Irish born resident of the U.S. I have had the privilege of playing golf courses in almost all of Irelands 32 counties over the past thirty years during my annual visits home.
I am not sure of the exact number but I’m sure there are close to 400 courses on the island.
There are challenging Irish links and parkland courses, including off the beaten track gems luxury golf resorts.
Most of Ireland’s scenic links golf courses can also be played in all types of weather.
Ireland’s small size (300 miles long x 150 miles wide) makes it ideal to fit many of her renowned courses into a short vacation. The terrain of Ireland has been used by course designers like Palmer, Norman and Nicklaus to create exceptional, natural courses.
My favorite parkland courses are:
Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, Co Kerry
I know, unusual name There are three course of which Killeen is my choice. Offers spectacular lakeside scenery and will also provide a challenge to long hitters. With tight tree lined fairways, and water features on nearly every hole, it will test your golfing skills to the limit with large, fast undulating greens. This course proves to be an equal balance between beautiful, natural lakeside terrain and a real challenging course.
Limerick Golf Club
Limerick Golf Club, founded in 1891, is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland. The course is a mature parkland course, the first couple of holes are easy, don’t get too casual because the third hole is the beginning of the real challenge of this course, you need two good shots to reach the green. The sixth hole has a stream flowing through it, be careful with your club selection. A great golf course for players of all abilities
Druids Glen Golf Club-Co Wicklow
The wonderful landscape the Glen provide a colorful backdrop to a great classic parkland course features many signature holes and provides golfers of all abilities with a wonderful golf experience amidst a beautifully maintained layout. Druids Glen is considered one of the top golf resorts in Ireland, in many ways it reminds one of Augusta.
Ennis Golf Club Co Clare
Ennis Golf Club, founded in 1907 is a very nice parkland course. It has tree lined fairways and very tight greens, though it will present a challenge for golfers of all abilities, it is a relatively flat course and I always enjoy playing here.
My Favorite Links Courses
Waterville Co Kerry
In my opinion this is what links golf is all about. Nature, in all it’s beauty, surrounds you at every hole. It is long, about 7300 yards and over 100 years old, located in the famed Ring of Kerry the views of the Atlantic and Ballinskelligs Bay at every turn are awesome. High winds at times make for challenging shots, and faced bunkers and natural terrain adds to the challenge. The fairways are firm and the changeable Irish weather makes the greens a force unto themselves. That said, I always come off the course exhilarated and refreshed.
Lahinch Golf Club Co Clare
It would be hard for me to choose between Waterville and Lahinch, I believe Tom Watson regarded it as one of his favorite courses. This links course, founded 1892, has awesome views of Liscannor Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Every hole particularly the 4th and 5th, locals call them the Klondyke and The Dell, provide a challenge in fair and windless conditions, if the wind is blowing all bets are off. After your round the amenities are world-class.
Doonbeg Golf Club Co Clare
Designed by Greg Norman, set on the cliffs high along the Atlantic coast, the ocean is visible from the green, fairway, or tee on 16 of the 18 holes. There are some outstanding holes, my favorite is the par 3 14th, although it is only 111 yards, the Atlantic goes out beyond the green and the wind, always windy here, will dictate what club you use, I have taken a 3 iron and a wedge at different times. Doonbeg Golf Club lodge is a luxury, although very costly, destination.
The weather in Ireland is always a factor, no matter the time of year, bring rain gear and dress in layers. The atmosphere in the clubhouse and pub areas is always entertaining, the pub grub is filling and reasonable and a pint of Guinness to finish it off ’nuff said!