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Best Links Golf Courses In Ireland And Northern Ireland

Are you planning a dream golf trip or simply indulging in the splendour of seaside golf? Then you’re in the right place. You’re about to embark on a journey through Ireland and Northern Ireland’s finest links golf courses and this guide is your tee-off. Here’s a quick look at the crème de la crème of links:

The Best Links Courses In Ireland And Northern Ireland

Royal County Down

Royal County Down Golf Club is a masterpiece of golf course design, comfortably situated in the Murlough Nature Reserve of Northern Ireland. Founded in 1889, this championship course stretches along Dundrum Bay with the majestic Mountains of Mourne as a backdrop. Royal County Down is a par 71 course that runs 7,186 yards, challenging golfers with its natural dunes and strategic bunkering.

Once you reach the 9th hole at Royal County Down, you’ll be greeted by truly stunning vistas, which is why it stands as the signature hole. Golfers worldwide are drawn to its fairways, where the whispers of history and the test of golf merge to create an unforgettable experience, making it easily one of the best golf courses in Northern Ireland.

Royal County Down

  • Course Designer: Old Tom Morris
  • Founded: 1889
  • Location: Murlough Nature Reserve, Dundrum Bay, Northern Ireland
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 7,186 yards
  • Signature Hole: 9th hole, par 4


Lahinch Golf Club is a true jewel in the crown of Irish golf. It was sculpted from the rugged West Clare landscape by Old Tom Morris in 1892, with Alister MacKenzie making enhancements afterwards. This par 72 links course stretches 6,950 yards, offering players challenging golf and breathtaking scenery.

The signature 5th hole, ‘The Dell,’ is a par 3 that demands a blind tee shot over a dune to a concealed green, which more or less sums up the unique character of Lahinch. The course’s undulating fairways and complex greens, framed by the Atlantic Ocean, provide a real test, which is why it’s one of the best golf courses for golfers of all levels.

Lahinch’s historical grounds invite players to partake in a storied tradition on one of Ireland’s most esteemed courses.


  • Course Designer: Old Tom Morris, Alister MacKenzie
  • Founded: 1892
  • Location: Lahinch, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 6,950 yards
  • Signature Hole: 5th hole (The Dell), par 3

Royal Portrush

Since it was founded in 1888, the Royal Portrush Golf Club has been a sanctuary of golfing excellence, nestled on the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. The club’s Dunluce Links, designed by the legendary Harry Colt, is a par 71 course that stretches over slightly over 7,000 yards.

It has breathtaking views of the Atlantic and the Giant’s Causeway, offering a links experience like no other. The signature hole, the 5th, known as ‘White Rocks’, is a symbol of the course’s picturesque setting and challenging design.

Royal Portrush has proudly hosted the Open Championship, confirming its status as a world-class venue. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the only Irish golf club to host The Open. Golfers here navigate through a landscape of towering dunes and undulating fairways, in a place where history and modernity blend seamlessly. The result? One of the best golf courses in Northern Ireland.

Royal Portrush

  • Course Designer: Harry Colt
  • Founded: 1888
  • Location: North Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 7,317 yards
  • Signature Hole: 5th hole (White Rocks), par 4


Ballybunion Golf Club, with its Old Course, is a cherished chapter in the story of Irish links golf. Established in 1893, this County Kerry treasure was originally designed by Lionel Hewson and later refined by Tom Simpson. It unfurls along the Atlantic’s edge, offering a par 71 challenge that spans 6,802 yards.

The course is a symphony of dramatic dunes, rippling fairways, and greens that require the utmost precision. Its 11th hole, a par 4 hugging the coastline, is often seen as the signature, where the ocean’s roar is a constant companion. Ballybunion is a test of true links golf, where each shot is a fight with the elements, and every hole is a memory in the making.


  • Course Designer: Lionel Hewson, refined by Tom Simpson
  • Founded: 1893
  • Location: Ballybunion, County Kerry, Ireland
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,802 yards
  • Signature Hole: 11th hole, par 4

Portmarnock Old

Portmarnock Golf Club, is a serene haven of golf that lies on a calm stretch of the Irish coastline just outside Dublin. It was established in 1894, following the design of W.C. Pickeman, offering golfers over 7,466 yards of classic duneland.

The Championship Old Course just exudes classic golfing, demanding strategic play with its firm fairways and subtle greens. The 15th hole, a 204-yard par 3, is easily the course’s most famous hole, it’s where the sea’s edge is perilously close, offering both challenge and charm.

Portmarnock’s history is rich, having hosted numerous prestigious tournaments, and its fairways have felt the footsteps of golfing legends, making it a must-play for enthusiasts looking for the essence of Irish links golf.

    Portmarnock Old

  • Course Designer: W.C. Pickeman
  • Founded: 1984
  • Location: Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, Ireland
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7,466 yards
  • Signature Hole: 15th hole, par 3

Rosapenna (St Patrick’s)

Rosapenna’s St Patrick’s Links, designed by the renowned Tom Doak, is a modern marvel of golf architecture that opened in 2021. Since its opening, it’s been attracting golfers from all over the globe.

It’s a course that celebrates the natural beauty of the Irish landscape, offering wide fairways and strategic demands that appeal to golfers of all levels. The course is set within over 300 acres of massive dunes, with elevation changes that add to the challenge and beauty of the design.

Although the course is still maturing, its greens, tees, and fairways still blend seamlessly into the landscape, almost like they’ve been there for ages. St Patrick’s Links is the very definition of imaginative golf, where the reward is for precision and strategy, not just power.

Rosapenna (St Patrick’s)

  • Course Designer: Tom Doak
  • Founded: 2021
  • Location: Rosapenna, County Donegal, Ireland
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 6,930 yards
  • Signature Hole: 14th hole, par 4


Portstewart Golf Club’s Strand Course is a masterpiece of links golf, with origins dating back to 1894. The course, initially laid out by Willie Park Jr., has evolved through significant developments, including the 1980s expansion that seamlessly integrated with the original design.

The front nine is a marvel, weaving through colossal dunes with the opening hole, a dogleg right par 4, setting a dramatic tone. The course’s par and length are what make it championship calibre, with the 6th and 8th holes being particular standouts. While the back nine may lack the drama of the dunes, holes like the par 3 12th and par 5 14th offer their own challenges.

Portstewart’s Strand Course stands firmly as a beacon of the ever-lasting allure of traditional links golf, where the Atlantic wind shapes every shot.


    • Course Designer: Willie Park Jr. (original)
    • Founded: 1894
    • Location: Portstewart, Northern Ireland
    • Par: 72
    • Length: 7,118 yards
    • Signature Hole: 1st hole, par 4


Waterville Golf Links is woven well into the fabric of Ireland’s golfing heritage. It’s a place where the game has been played since 1889. The golf course, designed by Eddie Hackett and later updated by Tom Fazio, is a par 72 that stretches slightly over 7,300 yards, giving you a classic links experience.

Its location also greatly adds to its appeal. You’ll find it on the scenic Ring of Kerry, where it combines the dramatic beauty of the Atlantic coastline with the natural elegance of its dunes and native grasses. The 17th hole, known as ‘Mulcahy’s Peak’, is Waterville’s signature, where the ocean’s expanse meets the horizon.


  • Course Designer: Eddie Hackett, updated by Tom Fazio
  • Founded: 1889
  • Location: Ring of Kerry, County Kerry, Ireland
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7,355 yards
  • Signature Hole: 17th hole (Mulcahy’s Peak), par 3


Once you lay your eyes upon the greens of Tralee Golf Club it’ll immediately become apparent that it could only be designed by a legend of the game. It’s the product of Arnold Palmer’s vision and the natural splendour of the Irish coast.

Opened in 1984, this par 72 masterpiece stretches across 6,975 yards of County Kerry’s rough landscape. The course is a well-balanced blend of traditional links land and dramatic cliff-top terrain, offering panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The 3rd hole, a stunning par 3, is the signature hole at Tralee Golf Club, where the green is perched precariously above the rocky shoreline.

Visiting golfers aren’t don’t just get a round of golf at Tralee, they get a nice encounter with Ireland’s elemental beauty, where each shot is as much a conversation with history as it is a test of skill. This is why it’s a bucket-list destination for golfers worldwide.


    • Course Designer: Arnold Palmer
    • Founded: 1984
    • Location: County Kerry, Ireland
    • Par: 72
    • Length: 6,975 yards
    • Signature Hole: 3rd hole, par 3

Old Head Links

Old Head Golf Links is a monument to the audacity of golf course design, perched on a stunning promontory jutting into the Atlantic Ocean and stretching over 7,100 yards of County Cork’s most dramatic land.

Since it was founded in 1997, this par 72 course has constantly been mentioned among the top international golf links. If you decide to play a round at this golf club, you’ll quickly discover that it’s a thrilling ballet of wind, sea, and golf, with the 12th hole, a par 5, that hugs the cliff edge, serving as the breathtaking signature.

Old Head’s fairways are an emerald ribbon between the sea and the sky, offering a golfing experience that is as visually arresting as it is challenging. Trust us when we say that it’s a place where the spirit of adventure meets the grandeur of golf, and every hole feels like a scene from an epic.

Old Head Links

  • Course Designer: Joe Carr (Consortium)
  • Founded: 1997
  • Location: County Cork, Ireland
  • Par: 72
  • Length: 7137
  • Signature Hole: 12th hole, par 5


What is the best way to play links golf?

Focus on mastering the elements of a links course by embracing the ground game. Go for lower, penetrating drives and consider putting over chipping when close to the green. Remember, the golf course’s undulating terrain and coastal winds are part of the appeal of Irish courses, so use them to your advantage.

How many links courses are in Ireland?

Ireland boasts a lot of golfing gems, with around 50 prestigious links courses peppered along its dramatic coastline. These golf courses offer a combination of historical allure, modern challenges, and memorable, making every swing of the golf club an unforgettable one.

Is there a difference between links and golf courses?

Yes. Links are pretty much the oldest style of golf course and an integral part of Irish golf. They’re typically defined by coastal sand dunes and the natural interplay with the sea, which can present a greater challenge than what you’d experience on parkland golf courses.

What are some popular golf clubs in Ireland and Northern Ireland?

Both Ireland and Northern Ireland have extensive offers in terms of golf clubs. Here are some standout options:

Castlerock Golf Club

Ardglass Golf Club

Portstewart Golf Club

The European Club

Malone Golf Club


Round Up

As our journey through the best golf courses in Northern Ireland and Ireland concludes, we must tip our caps to the greens that we didn’t mention, like The Island Golf Club, County Sligo Golf Club, and County Louth Golf Club, each with its own rich history.

Whether you’re planning a luxury golf trip or seeking to tread the fairways where the greats have played, Irish courses offer an unmatched blend of challenge and charm. The courses highlighted here are just a taste of the golfing splendour that awaits.

The best golf courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland are not just played, they’re experienced, each swing and putt building unforgettable memories.