Ireland,may be a small island on the edge of the Atlantic, but this emerald isle is a golfer’s paradise. the country is jam-packed with some of the best and most acclaimed golf courses in the world. Ireland’s wind-swept coastline of natural sand dunes, are the perfect combination for creating stunning links courses and the most challenging holes, you wont find anywhere else. All across the country, from southwest to northeast, we have put together the best 18 holes (in our opinion). It is a golfers’ dream course and would be visually stunning, as it would be the most enjoyable round of golf you have ever played.
The 1st hole at Portstewart
Playing the 1st hole is something you will never forget, a downhill 425-yard par four with a plateau green, it is also a tough cookie and will stay in your mind for a long time. This wonderful par 4 (with its elevated tee) just begs you to drive it straight on to the Fairway, with a little fade, to place it neatly between the Dunes.
The 4th hole at castlerock
Known by the locals as “The leg of mutton” you need to be very careful with your tee shot as accuracy is key here. The Leg of Mutton, “is one of the single most talked about golf holes in Irish golfing circles” John Redmond – ‘Great Golf Courses of Ireland’.
The 15th at Ballyliffin
Nothing can prepare you for this hole. The drive towards the clubhouse is straight forward, when you stand on the 1st tee you will find yourself thinking ‘Is that the fairway?’, up ahead is the green, but your focus will shift to the extraordinary terrain in front of you. A long par 4 will take you through a right-to-left sweeping drive downhill and then back up to an incredibly beautiful elevated green.
The 17th at County Sligo
The 17th hole is the signature hole. A long, tough par 4, requiring a clean drive to the right of the fairway before turning left and uphill, to a green that features a steep slope at its’ front and rolls any miss shot back towards the fairway. Plenty of power is required for the second shot or it’s in the grassy banks to the left. Designed by Harry Colt, in his prime, this is a really tight par 4 that has broken many a player who have competed in tournaments held there.
The 15th at Carne
A visually stunning hole with dunes that cover all the way to the right, protecting a rising elevated green. The 15th is a par 4 and has a narrow entrance to another protected green. The 15th is the best par 4 on the course, a long, challenging approach to an inviting uphill green.
The 4th at Lahinch
The world famous Klondyke! Designed by Tom Morris it has remained untouched for over a century. The first shot is from a tee backing onto the Ocean, then, to a narrow fairway snug between looming sand dunes. Your 2nd shot it basically blind and played over a sand dune towards a far off green.
The 14th at Doonbeg
Any good caddy will tell you that a wedge is the only real choice here on this lovely par 3. In the right conditions, where the Atlantic is lightly blowing, it can be a shot of a lifetime to get to the green in one.
The 11th at Ballybunion
This stunning par 4 rolls and tumbles downhill between massive towering dunes and finishes off with the green below. This has to be one of the best par 4’s you will play in the world. If there is a prevailing wind blowing from the coast, just aim your tee shot down the boundary line. This is another hole where the second shot is critical, make sure you power straight through the centre.
The 12th at Tralee
You really have to stand and take a look around to admire the view before teeing off on this par 4. Before you take your first shot, you need to consider the second shot as there is a strong possibility (even the slightest miss-hit) you will send the ball deep into heavy rough on the right-hand side. A good set of irons are needed to pass the large casam and reach the green.
The 7th at Waterville
To quote, the legendary Mark O’Meara after practising here, “Waterville helped me realise the dream of a lifetime after staying at waterville a week, before victory in the Open Championship.” The seventh is a classic par 4, taking a Dogleg to the right. Your first shot from the tee should be played to the fairway, framed by dunes, then a careful the approach onto green while keeping in mind the prevailing wind.
Waterville golf club watervillegolflinks.ie
The 7th At the European
This is one of those holes that will test the most seasoned golfer. A solid par 4, that is cut in two by a stream and marsh-land, within driving distance covering the left-hand side.
The European theirishgolfblog.com
The 6th at the Royal Dublin
A truly snaking winding par 5, again from the designer Martin Hawtree, is spotted with strategically placed bunkers and traps to get the best out of you. The bunkers on the right-hand side is your target line, if you think you can reach it, take the shot. A 3 Wood is the best choice here, next shot aim for the bunker on the right corner. If you reach it, keep left and you’re on the green.
The Royal Dublin yourgolftravel.com
The 13th at the Island
All the holes at the Island are challenging, no more so than the 13th, a really tough and sticky par-3. If you manage to get par on this hole you will have played an exceptional round of golf.
The 210 yard drive off the Tee will travel across the Broadmeadow Estuary this has been praised by Christy O’Connor as his favourite par 3 in the entire country.
The Island www.worldgolf.com
The 14th at Co Louth
The 14th hole is regarded as Baltray’s signature hole. It’s a short par 4 only 332 yards which you can drive all the way to the flag but still but end up taking six or more, wondering what did you actually do that was wrong. This is what a short par 4 should look like, no bunkers, no traps, all the trouble begins when you reach the hugely contoured green.
County louth golf club www.worldgolf.com
The 9th at Co Down
With Slieve Donnard looming in the background this is a par 4 that captures the absolutely stunning, beautiful surrounding landscape of County Down. This is one of those rolling finishes that insists the player takes great care when putting back to the flag. There is great emphasis on getting your placement correct, miss hit and you will find yourself pitching from outside the green. Which is very difficult considering the undulating landscape
County Down yourgolftravel.com
The 14th at the Royal Portrush
The signature hole is the 14th, a wonderful, quirky par 3 on the stretch home that will stay in your memory for a long time. The 14th measures 210 yards. If your top spin is up to scratch then a long carry, with a big iron or wood, is required to reach a green perched directly on a 100-foot precipice.
The Royal Portrush Theroyalportrushgolfclubb.com
Hole 13: Druids Glen
One of the most breath-taking but sternest par 4’s in Ireland. Druids 13th is infamous for a good reason. It’s a very sharp right dogleg, with a stream running along the border all the way down the right. To play this hole you are forced to fade to make the second easier. The second is normally a long drive to a small target, with water in front of you and to the right.
Druids Glen where2golf.com
Hole 2: Portsalon Golf
Now this is a truly spectacular hole, played from an elevated tee that doglegs left. If you are feeling brave you can try cut some of the corner but hit too far left and you’re going to struggle. Just after you take that full powered drive onto the fairway the next shot is then over water again, this hole is a keeper and one to test the nerve of the best golfers
And there you have it a full 18 holes in what our opinion would be a dream come true for any golfer. A fine mix of tough par 3,4 and 5s, all the courses are spectacular but it’s the signature holes that give them the added edge. From the the viewpoint of the landscape to the special features on the holes, like a small river or an ancient castle overlooking a clifftop, these are the things that make Irish golf such a pleasure.
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