Mike Ryan’s Seven Favourite

My seven favourite | customized golf tour Ireland

My seven favourite

Hello everyone, today I’m going to give you my honest opinion of my seven favourite golf clubs in Ireland.  The most beautiful country to play golf.  When you are a guest, in any of the clubs I mention, you’re treated like royalty.  I take into account the greens, layout of the course and the clubhouse, so sit back and enjoy my experience of what I believe are the best links in the country, in no particular order.

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Old Head

Old Head Golf Club

We will start off with the Old Head, the Old Head is a tough par 72 with a great mix of Par 3s,  Par 4s and five Par 5s, all spread out over 7,200 yards.

The course is built on a unique 220-acre diamond shaped piece of land that stretches 2 miles into the Atlantic from the mainland, the links’ cover 180 acres with the remaining 40 acres encircling the course.

old head golf | Deluxe Irish Golf Vacations

old head golf

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Fantasy Landscape

The dramatic location truly cannot be found anywhere in the world; as it looks like its straight out of a fantasy novel.  Old Head must be the most exhilarating place to play golf, you actually feel as though you are on the edge of the world.  Teeing off at three hundred feet up is an indescribable feeling, listening the Atlantic waves crash onto the rocks as they smash into the cave tunnels beneath you.  Originally designed as a walking course, people are encouraged to walk with a club caddy to really appreciate the layout and stunning views of the ocean waves crashing against the land.  Club golf carts can be used to travel around the course but you would be doing yourself a disfavour (as it would be easy to miss the wonderful scenery the Old Head has to offer).

Old Head Golf Club | customized golf vacation Ireland

Old Head Golf Club

Image Courtesy of oldhead.com

The 17th “The Lighthouse”

The 574-yard, par 5 dogleg, 12th hole is arguably one of the greatest golf holes in the world.  It’s a long par 5 that will ‘make or break’ your entire game, be brave and take the second shot to the right-hand side of the fairway.  Taking the easy left will just leave a blind approach to the green, that is snugly placed in a punch bowl on the edge of the cliffs.  This is just one of the highlights of Old Head.

beautiful old head | Ireland Golf Packages

beautiful old head

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Unwind and relax

Amateur and professional visitors have enjoyed the Old Head, including high profile professionals such as:§§ Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods, Stuart Appleby, Lee Janzen, and the Late Payne Stewart.  Not just for the wonderful golf, it’s a great place to just unwind and relax.  Old Head has a deluxe club spa and some of the most luxurious accommodation on offer.  Dining is also a speciality with the 5 star de Courcey restaurant; providing fresh lobster from the tank, fish, poultry and dining with some breathtaking views that can only be found in Kinsale.

crashing old head | ireland golf trips

crashing old head

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lahinch-golf-club | Discover Ireland Golf Tour(s)

lahinch golf club


Lahinch Golf Club

 Lahinch Golf Club is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland officially opened in 1927.  There are two courses, the Old Course and the Castle Course.  The Old Course is designed by Tom Morris/Alister MacKenzie and is the St Andrews of Ireland.  It looks out on the Atlantic Ocean and is taxing to play when blustery winds come in off the Atlantic.  The Old Course exudes a feeling that cannot be compared anywhere on earth.  With its’ beautiful, contoured fairways that roll down through grassy dunes, no wonder it is consistently rated among the top courses and given accolades in Golfing Magazine (which named it Irish golf links winner 2015).


lahinch's golf links | irish golf Vacation Packages

lahinch’s golf links

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The Dell

Lahinch’s 5th hole is one of the most talked about golf holes in the world, simply Known as “The Dell”.  It is an original design from Tom Morris.  The reason that the Dell is so famous from the Tee, is that the hole is entirely blind.  This tough, 154 yards, par 3 is surrounded on all sides by massive, natural sand dunes.  Starting off, all the player can see are dunes and a white direction rock, which provides the line for locating the hole.  If that wasn’t a challenge enough, the hole plays directly into the wind and towards the sea.

lahinch Golf Club | Ireland Luxury Golf Tours

lahinch Golf Club

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Lahinch annually hosts the South of Ireland Amateur Championship, which attracts the best up-and-coming golfers in the country.  Former Winners include: a young Darren Clarke who won in 1990 (who was beaten by Paul McGinley in 1991) and the 2000 winner, was none other than: Graeme McDowell.


breezy lahinch | Luxury Golf Tour Vacations Ireland

breezy lahinch

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ballybunion Golf Club | Deluxe Ireland Golf Packages

ballybunion Golf Club


BallyBunion Golf Club

The quiet seaside town of Ballybunion is home, to what the distinguished American golf author Herbert Warren Wind described as, “nothing less than the finest seaside course I have ever seen.”  A natural links golf course sitting on the edge of the Atlantic with its fairways set among the huge, grassy Duneland.

Ballybunion | Ireland Golf Transportation


Image Courtesy of www.ballybuniongolfclub.com

The Ballybunion Golf Club has the most formidable sand dunes in the country.  If you are good golfer, there’s a thrilling challenge in store for you here, a supreme test of golf.  The holes can, at the best of time, be capricious with a gentle breeze.  Players can score highly at the end of a round, but, if on the other hand there’s an onshore gust coming in from the ocean, then buckle up..there’s a tough day ahead.  Famously Bill Clinton played there in 1998, taking more “mulligans” than anyone else that day.  He returned again in 2001 to settle the score.

Ballybunions beauty | Deluxe Ireland Golf Vacation Packages

Ballybunions beauty

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Bill Clinton isn’t the only famous personality to have fallen love with Ballybunion, Tom Watson played there and quoted “After playing Ballybunion for the first time, a man would think that the game of golf originated here, I consider it a true test of golf.”

The original Old Course is classed as one of the best golf courses in the world. New players are greeted by the first seven holes that are a a kindly introduction, after that the going increases in difficulty and can be quite challenging, playing along the course you see the man-made and natural features like narrow, contoured fairways and rolling dunes.  It becomes obvious why it is a luxury golf vacation spot and ranked as one of the best in the world.


Ballybunion links | Luxury Golf Tour Vacations Ireland

Ballybunion links

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Tralee-Golf-Club |Deluxe Golf Tours Ireland

Tralee Golf Club

Tralee Golf Club

“I have never come across a piece of land so ideally suited for the building of a golf course” said Arnold Palmer.  Tralee Golf Club was his first Irish adventure into golf architecture and was officially opened to critical acclaim in 1984.  Tralee, is a rugged and exhilarating masterpiece and Palmer, let nature do most of the work.  The majority of the elevated holes grip tightly to the coast land, giving way to some spectacular scenery from the cliff tops right over Tralee Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  There are very few links that grab your attention the moment you see them; Tralee golf course is one of those few captivating courses.


TraleeGolf Club | customized golf package ireland

TraleeGolf Club

The Sign of a good golf course are the holes that stick in your mind.  In Tralee, there are so many memorable it will be a hard call to pick a favourite, not just for the golf but for the views from every hole you play. Tralee is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, it is really hard to concentrate without gazing at the area surrounding that includes Castles, distant islands and towering mountains.

the castle | Ireland golf transport

The castle

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The 17th hole

The 17th hole, called Ryan’s Daughter, was named after the award-winning movie by David Lean.  The Classic love story was filmed on location here with the beautiful beach as a backdrop.  Standing at the cliff-side it seems like the beach stretches on forever.  It’s very unlikely you will ever play a more dramatic-looking course anywhere in the world and one that is, in all honesty, a pleasure to play.  Which is why Tralee fits in my top 7 favourite.

coastal view | customized golf trip ireland

coastal view

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waterville logo| private golf tours of Ireland

waterville logo

Waterville Golf Club

The small town of Waterville is famous for two things, angling and golf.  Waterville is located on a strip of land that separates the Atlantic from the most breathtaking lakes in the Country.  Waterville is a very popular coastal tourist hotspot in South-West Kerry that hosts the annual 2 day AM-AM, dedicated to Charlie Chaplin who often stayed there.

waterville links | golf vacations Ireland

waterville links

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Waterville plays on a coastal region.  A remote location, with stunning views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, to the Northeast.  Turn 180 degrees southwest and you will get an unmatched view of the beautiful Ballinskelligs Bay.  There are only a handful of courses that have a fine and unique collection of memorable golf holes.  Waterville has three outstanding par 3’s and another three par 5’s, when you finish you want to go back and replay.

Waterville golf | Ireland Golf Vacations

Waterville golf

Image Courtesy of www.watervillegolflinks.ie

Sadly because of the remote location it has precluded Waterville from hosting the major championships or tournaments, never-the-less, many famous faces like Mark O‘Meara and Tiger Woods praised the architect, Eddie Hacket, for its near perfect design.  If ever you find your way here, I can guarantee, you will leave with a feeling that Waterville is a very rare gem and in some ways, glad that it is unspoiled.

waterville hills | ireland golf tours

waterville hills

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portmarnock golf Club | customized golf tour Ireland

portmarnock golf Club

Portmarnock Golf Club

If you are on tour in or around Dublin city, do yourself a favour and take a trip along the coast to Portmarnock Golf Club.  Designed by architect Stan Eby, along with legendary golfer and three-time winner of the Irish Open, Bernhard Langer.  Langer decided, when he was visiting, to get on board and chose this untainted, magnificent landscape to design his first links course.  Together they designed a layout that is a challenge for professional and amateur alike.  So popular was the design that it has hosted professional and amateur tournaments, including 2008 and 2009 Ladies Irish Open.


port marnock beauty | Golf Transport Ireland

portmarnock’s beauty

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Portmarnock is one of Ireland’s classic Golf Clubs founded in 1894 and, as testament to the quality of the design, the first ever Irish Open Amateur Championships was held here in 1896, just two years after it was opened.  Almost a hundred years later, the Walker Cup was hosted by the Portmarnock Golf Club in 1991.  In 2005, the club received news that the internationally syndicated Golf Digest ranked it number 30 in the world’s greatest 100 links.  The club has come a long way with many iterations, initially started with only 9-holes until 1896.  Then another 9 more were added, finalizing it to a complete 18 hole championship course.  After an unprecedented collaboration between the amateurs and professionals, almost 80 years later, a further 9 holes were added.   Giving it a total of what we see today; 27 of the most enjoyable and challenging holes in the world.

the 9th Hole portmarnock | Deluxe Irish Golf Tours

the 9th Hole portmarnock

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But aside from the well-known golf course, the Portmarnock offers a vast variety of facilities supplied by dedicated and friendly staff.  The Portmarnock Golf Club provides only the highest standard of service to its visitors and members.

After a hard day on the links, visitors can head on to the clubhouse locker rooms to get refreshed in its’ shower facilities.  Where they can make their way to the bar and restaurant to indulge in some fine dining on authentic Irish fare, or go for some drinks and talk about the day’s events.  When it comes to a deluxe golf vacation in Ireland, the name Portmarnock should be on the top of the list.

portmarnock golf club | Deluxe Golf Packages Ireland

portmarnock golf club

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royal_county_down_crest | Deluxe Golf Trips Ireland

royal county down

The Royal County Down

The bunkers at the Royal County Down have been said to be the most stunning of any course, this is because of the flora such as marram, red fescue, and heather that are rampant over the entire length of play. The Royal County Down can boast many accolades including: the best in the world voted by Golf Digest magazine’s where it is listed “The World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses referring to it as a “surprising but deserving new number one”, (taking the top spot from Pine Valley).

the royal view |Deluxe Golf Vacations Ireland

the royal view

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The Royal County Down is a rugged, wind-blown, challenging play, with snarling bunkers edged by marram grass that runs along the Irish coastline.  On any given clear day, visitors will be treated to vistas like no other place on earth.  Imagine looking east to see the beautiful bay of Dundrum, busy with the hustle and bustle of fishing boats, then to the south you behold the gorse-covered Mountains of Mourne; with its dense marram grasses and impenetrable clumps of heather.  There really is in my opinion no place more exquisite to play a round of fantastic golf.

County down golf Club | Deluxe Irish Golf Trips

County down golf Club

Image Courtesy of www.royalcountydown.org

The Royal is Widely regarded as one of the most magnificent courses to play in the world, where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea which plunges 3,000 feet almost to the edge of Dundrum Bay.

Adjacent to the Royal Links, there is a second course called the Annesley, which is nowhere near as intimidating or challenging.  The Annesley is used as a warm up for the Championship Links.
The Royal County Down is a pure golfing delight to anyone playing and an outstanding test of golf

Royal links | luxury golf tours ireland

Royal links

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And there you have it folks.  My choice of my favourite golf clubs in Ireland, but don’t take my word for it, there are dozens of wonderful golf courses dotted around this island.  Including: the K club, Dooks, the Royal Dublin, Killen Castle (and so many more) for all tastes and all skill levels.  For more options just check out our previous blogs about the Golf Clubs in Ireland

If you are interested in any of the golf clubs mentioned and would like more information, please click on the Enquire button below:


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All the best,

Mike Ryan

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