The Best Links Golf Courses in Ireland

Ireland is home to a quarter of the world’s best links golf courses with 50, quite an achievement for such a small country. The country is an ideal location for bringing guests on incentive and convention trips. As the most westerly country off the coast of Europe, it is well served with flights from both North America and Europe.

As well as having dozens of stunning links courses, visitors can also enjoy excellent cuisine, colourful nightlife and fabulous hotels in Ireland. The standard of hospitality in Ireland is second to none. The country has been actively engaged in tourism and hospitality since the 1800s, even Queen Victoria holidayed here.

Here are some of our favourite links courses and hotels in the vicinity that we know will love to host you and your guests to a memorable stay in Ireland.  

Portmarnock – Dublin 

Just a short 15 minute drive from Dublin Airport, Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links, is on a peninsula and is a natural sandy course. It has the sea all around and will give many golfers a good test of their skills. During the years, Portmarnock Golf Club has hosted big tournaments such as the Irish Open, the Canada Cup and the Walker Cup. 

The Portmarnock Hotel

This is a four-star property that has been renovated in recent years. The original house was the home of the Jameson Whiskey family and there are memories of their time evident around the property. As well as being a four-star full-service hotel, Portmarnock also has a spa and gym. See here

Royal County Down, Co. Down, Northern Ireland 

The setting of this golf club has to be one of the most beautiful on the east coast of Ireland.  With a backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne and overlooking Dundrum Bay it will distract you from playing. Keep your eyes on the ball, the Championship and Annesley courses are tough course and unforgiving. The Royal has hosted countless championships over the years and is a popular course for Rory McIlroy. See here.

Royal County Down Golf Links

Slieve Donard Hotel and Spa

This hotel is so close to the golf course at Royal County Down, you could walk there; without clubs. The setting for this grand Victorian hotel is superb. The Mountains of Mourne around it and the sea in front. It also has its own stretch of beach, and also has a fabulous, spacious spa. See here

Lahinch Golf Club, Lahinch, Co. Clare 

The setting for this course is spectacular, overlooking the Atlantic and beside the lovely seaside town of Lahinch. The first game of golf was played in Lahinch in 1892, and since it has hosted many golf championships. There are two fine links courses at Lahinch. From the beginning ladies were welcome to play at Lahinch and the course hosted the first Ladies Championship in 1904. See here. 

Lahinch Golf Links

The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, Co. Clare 

It is just a short journey from Lahinch to the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon. This four-star hotel is located in its own grounds, overlooking the famous Falls. The facilities include a spa using Voya and Espa products, and 20-metre pool and gym. As one of the Flynn Hotel Group you will be sure of a great Clare welcome. See here.

Ballybunion Golf Links, Co. Kerry 

Rugged Ballybunion has the name of being one of the best clubs to play in the world. Its two courses are challenging against a backdrop of the wild Atlantic Ocean. Golf lover, former US President Bill Clinton is one of the most well-known people to have played Ballybunion, there’s even a statue of him here. See here.

Ballybunion Bay

The Listowel Arms 

The finest hotel near Ballybunion is the Listowel Arms in the heritage town known as the literary capital of Ireland. This hotel prides itself in classic hospitality service with authentic décor and service. Tucked into the square in Listowel it is a great location for exploring the town and the lovely Kingdom of Kerry. See here.

Old Head, Kinsale, Co. Cork 

This links course has one of the most spectacular viewpoints of any in Ireland. The Old Head of Kinsale juts out, two miles into the Atlantic Ocean. It has the crashing waves on each side and the famous lighthouse in front. In terms of Irish golf courses, it is quite a youngster, only opening in 1977, but it has gained an incredible reputation as one of the best courses in Ireland.

Old Head Suites 

This Old Head has its own accommodation, 19 suites and two presidential suites and there is also a spa on site. The golf links only opens from April to October, so book early.  Old Head is also close to the fabulous seaside town of Kinsale, which is noted for high quality accommodation and some of the best gourmet food in Ireland. See here.

Joan Scales
Award-winning journalist, Joan has been writing about travel and tourism for many years principally for The Irish Times and lately for travel2ireland. Joan has appeared many times on television and radio talking about the business of travel and all its component strands. She is also a public speaker and has appeared at many international conventions and conferences.

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