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Ireland’s And Northern Ireland’s Best Hidden Gem Golf Courses

Whether you’re a novice or a pro, Ireland’s best-hidden gem golf courses beckon the discerning golfer. Tucked away in the lush Emerald Isle landscapes, these lesser-known courses are masterpieces of design, offering exquisite beauty and the opportunity for golfing excellence.

These hidden gems have been praised by experts and locals alike, and this guide is your trusted compass to these secret sanctuaries of sport. The 12 clubs we will be discussing today are:

Irelands And Northern Irelands Best Hidden Gem Golf Courses


Dingle Golf Links

The Dingle Golf Links (or Ceann Sibeal) is situated on the Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhne), along the Wild Atlantic Way—a location on the southwest coast of Ireland.

It’s an undulating course with a stream flowing through 13 of its 18 classic link holes, showcasing Eddie Hackett’s brilliance. Its fescue greens, praised for their impeccable quality, have helped elevate Dingle Golf Course into the Top 100 Irish courses. The course offers just the right amount of playability and challenge for golfers of all skill levels.

Top holes:

Hole 1 requires a steady strike when navigating the three fairway bunkers from the tee.

Hole 7 is the first dogleg hole of the course and accuracy is key if you want to make par.

Hole 10 is its signature hole with a semi-circle of bunkers hugging the elevated green.

Dingle Golf Links

    • Location: Ballyferriter Dingle Peninsula, Dingle, Kerry County, Ireland
    • Par: 72
    • Length: 6,737 yards
    • Course Designer: Eddie Hackett
    • Founded: 1924
    • Signature Hole: 10th

Cork Golf Club

Since 1888 Cork Golf Course has been a respected destination for a round of great golf. It’s located at Little Island, near Cork City, in historic limestone quarries by the Inner Harbour. The course’s heath-like terrain offers a pristine year-round experience and is one of the best-hidden gems in Ireland.

Top holes:

Hole 5 is the signature hole and requires strategic play to avoid lost balls.

Holes 6 and 7 introduce gorse hazards and tricky greens.

Hole 10, a classic MacKenzie design, requires a bold drive over the quarry.

This championship course has hosted the Irish Open. Cork Golf Course is a must-visit for anyone seeking to test their skill and will give any golfer a run for their money. As Billy Casper, winner of three majors, said, “The stretch of holes from the 4th to the 10th compare with any golf course I have played.”

Cork Golf Club

    • Location: Little Island, Cork, Ireland
    • Par: 72 (men), 74 (women)
    • Length: 6,813 yards
    • Course Designer: Alister MacKenzie
    • Founded: 1888
    • Signature Hole: 5th

Howth Golf Course

Howth Golf Course has over 100 years of history and is situated atop the beautiful peninsula of Howth on Dublin’s north-east side. Its undulating terrain provides a tough yet enjoyable game and the club offers all the necessary amenities such as a clubhouse, pro shop, buggy hire, and bar.

With panoramic sea views from all 18 holes, Howth’s heathland links course is a blend of traditional design and modern playability.

Top holes:

Hole 5 is its signature dog-legged hole – an ode to Braid’s architectural genius.

Hole 9 is a short par 4 with the green straight down the hill.

Hole 13 is a long par 4 with a double-tiered green. Ensure your second shot favours the right-hand side of the fairway.

Howth Golf Club

    • Location: Carrickbrack Road, Sutton North, Dublin 13, Ireland
    • Par: 71
    • Length: 6,234 yards
    • Course Designer: James Braid
    • Founded: 1916
    • Signature Hole: 5th

North West Golf Club

Perched on the edge of the Swilly in Donegal County on the Wild Atlantic Way, the North West Golf Club is one of Ireland’s oldest golf clubs. This 18-hole course is often called the “St Andrew’s of Ireland”; a true testament to the challenging course, breathtaking views and excellent golfing ability required.

The pristine course, beautiful flyovers and raw beauty of the North West are a nod to the club’s commitment to providing a wonderful experience for both members and visitors.

Top holes:

Hole 1, aptly named The Long Green, is one of the longest holes on the course (434 yards; 397 meters).

Hole 5 has no fairway, making it a challenging par 3 to make. It is undoubtedly North West’s signature hole.

Hole 18’s green is relatively flat but is guarded by two bunkers on either side.

North West Golf Club (Donegal)

    • Location: Lisfannan, Fahan, Donegal County, Ireland
    • Par: 70
    • Length: 6,334 yards
    • Course Designer: Charles Thompson
    • Founded: 1891
    • Signature Hole: 5th

Rosslare Golf Club

Rosslare Golf Links is the only true ‘links’ course in the southeast of Ireland, offering an authentic links experience since 1905. It’s located on a slender peninsula between Wexford Harbour and the Irish Sea. Originally a nine-hole course in the early 1900s, today it offers two courses that cater to golfers of every level: Old Course (18 holes) and Burrow Links (12 holes).

Rosslare Golf Links is often called ‘the sunniest spot in Ireland’ and it’s very uncommon for the course to be closed due to bad weather or ground conditions.

The ‘Old Course’, designed by Hawtree & Taylor in 1926, has been consistently featured in Ireland’s Top 100 courses. The natural contours and coastal dunes provide varied play. The layout takes you out and back along the Burrow Peninsular with seven holes hugging the coastline.

Top holes:

Hole 11, known as Barber’s Pole and the course’s signature hole, you’ll often face the challenge of playing into the wind. This par 4 for men and par 5 for ladies requires skilful blind shots over red and white posts to find the fairway.

For those in a rush, opt to play on the 12-hole Burrow Links. Designed by Christy O’Connor Jnr. in 1992, this condensed course is a quicker round and offers panoramic views of Wexford Harbour and Raven Point.

Rosslare Golf Club

    • Location: Bearlough, Rosslare, Wexford County, Ireland
    • Par: 72 (Old Course)
    • Length: 6,786 yards (Old Course)
    • Course Designer: Hawtree & Taylor (Old Course); Christy O’Connor Jr. (Burrow Links)
    • Founded: 1905
    • Signature Hole: 11th

Scrabo Golf Club

Perched 500 feet (150 meters) above sea level, Scrabo Golf Course is a panoramic spectacle! Founded in 1907 and nestled above Newtownards in Northern Ireland, this 18-hole, 6,227-yard (5,694 meter), par 71 course is a masterpiece set against the stunning backdrop of County Down. It’s renowned for its links-like play, where gorse-lined fairways require precision and accuracy. Hidden gems? You’ve found one in this course!

Top holes:

Scrabo’s opening hole has been described as one of the most iconic opening holes in Irish golf; the 463-yard (424-meter) par 4 requires a balanced strike off the tee.

Scrabo has a good mix of long and short holes, so have your clubs ready!

The Scrabo Tower, a memorial to the 3rd Marquis of Londonderry, stands over the course. Scrabo offers sweeping views of Newtownards and the northern side of Strangford Lough and is a must-try for avid golfers.

Scrabo Golf Club

    • Location: Scrabo Road, Newtownards, Northern Ireland
    • Par: 71
    • Length: 6,200 yards
    • Course Designer: George L. Baillie
    • Founded: 1907
    • Signature Hole: 1st

Strandhill Golf Club

Strandhill Golf Club is an exceptional Irish course. This 18-hole links golf course is located in Strandhill, Sligo, along Ireland’s Atlantic coast. The club describes itself as the “epitome of golf along the Wild Atlantic Way”.

This par 70 course provides scenery as far as the eye can see, with ocean and countryside views. The iconic Knocknarea Mountain and Culleenamore Strand create the perfect backdrop to hit a few across the fairway!

When playing at Strandhill, expect a formidable round when the coastal winds blow, adding to the difficulty of the links experience.

Top holes:

Hole 13 (The Valley) is a challenging par 4, starting with a blind tee shot into the valley, hence the name.

Hole 14 is one of its signature holes – it hasn’t earned the nickname “Short Puck” for nothing!

Hole 18 (Bustard’s Lodge) is a difficult right doglegged 441-yard (403 meters) play and will undoubtedly test your patience. It’s not stroke index 1 for nothing!


Strandhill Golf Club

    • Location: Golf Course Road, Carrowbunnaun, Strandhill, Sligo County, Ireland
    • Par: 70
    • Length: 6,200 yards
    • Course Designer: John McAlister
    • Founded: 1931
    • Signature Hole: 14th and 16th

Dooks Golf Club

The locals favour Dooks Golf Club as it is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland, known for its fine-link experience. Located off the beaten track on the Ring of Kerry, Dooks offers majestic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Reeks mountain range. It certainly is the place to enjoy a round of great golf.

The club has been recognised by Ronan Rafferty, a Sky Sports commentator and European Golfer Of The Year (1989), as one of the best-kept secrets in Ireland. The course presents a technical challenge to golfers of all skill levels and takes advantage of its unique location.

Top holes:

Hole 2 requires a delicate second shot to avoid running off the back.

Hole 13 is its signature hole with its ‘roller-coaster’ green.

End off this 18-hole course with an excellent par 4 into the prevailing wind; then celebrate your victory in The Clubhouse’s bar with a couple of pints.

Dooks Golf Club

    • Location: Dooaghs, Glenbeigh, Kerry County, Ireland
    • Par: 71
    • Length: 6,511 yards
    • Course Designer: Anthony Brown in 1895 (9-hole); Eddie Hackett in the 1970s (18-hole); Martin Hawtree in 2002.
    • Founded: 1889
    • Signature Hole: 13th

Carne Golf Links

Situated in County Mayo on the rugged northwest coast, Carne is the 10th-best golf course in Ireland. Rising 164 yards (150 meters) above sea level and nestled amongst towering dunes, Carne’s deceptive 18-hole links course offers exquisite views of Blacksod Bay and the islands of Inis Glòire and Gèidhe.

At Carne Golf Links, golfers have the luxury of choosing between two distinct courses: the traditional Hackett 18 and the dramatic Wild Atlantic Dunes, each available on alternating days.

Hole 11 of the Hackett course is by far the most challenging – no wonder it’s the club’s signature hole! The fairway doglegs to the right and is set behind a dune; you need to clear a huge 320-yard (292 meters) stretch to make it to the green. However, the safest option is to play down the left.

To fully experience the diversity of play, a stay in Belmullet is advised to allow for back-to-back days of golfing fun. The front nine of either course presents a formidable challenge, with the ever-present wind adding a layer of complexity that ranks Carne among Ireland’s most testing golf courses. It’s also advised to hire a buggy beforehand as the walk between tee boxes is quite a trek.

Carne Golf Links

    • Location: Carne, Belmullet, Mayo County, Ireland
    • Par: 72
    • Length: 6,702 yards
    • Course Designer: Eddie Hackett
    • Founded: 1925
    • Signature Hole: 11th (Hackett course)

Portsalon Golf Club

The Portsalon Golf Club is situated under the Knockalla Mountains and alongside beautiful stretches of Ballymastocker Beach. Portsalon is a true test of links golf and is one of Ireland’s best-hidden gems.

Top holes:

Hole 2 is the club’s signature hole and with good reason! This technical hole requires precision and accuracy if you want to reach the green.

Hole 9 is known as the ‘best hole on the course’ due to its elevated tee down the valley fairway which is partially hidden behind small dunes.

Hole 14 offers breathtaking views of the Inishowen Peninsula and fantastic fairway strikes.

Side note: The annual Donegal Links Classic, a 3-day event in May, is held across three of Donegal’s famed links courses: Portsalon, Rosapenna, and Ballyliffin.

Portsalon Golf Club

    • Location: 7 Fanad Way, Croaghross, Portsalon, Donegal County, Ireland
    • Par: 72
    • Length: 7,120 yards
    • Course Designer: Charles Thompson (1880s); Pat Ruddy (2000)
    • Founded: 1880s
    • Signature Hole: 2nd

Laytown & Bettystown Links Golf Club

Laytown and Bettystown Golf Course has over 110 years of history and is situated 30 minutes from Dublin Airport. This is a links course which not only offers breathtaking scenery but all the necessary amenities, such as golf club hire, buggies and caddies. The entire course has four par 5s – from the red markers – located at holes 4, 11, 15, and 18.

Top holes:

Hole 1 is a driveable 322-yard (294-meter) stretch with the front left of the green protected by a pot bunker. It also happens to be the club’s signature hole.

Hole 8, known as Hen Pen, is the longest par 3 of the course, measuring 192 yards (175 meters) from the white tee.

Hole 11 is a 404-yard (369-meter) dogleg right with three bunkers on the right-hand side that are not visible from the tee.

Laytown and Bettystown Links Golf Club

    • Location: Golf Links Road, Mornington, Bettystown, Meath County, Ireland
    • Par: 71
    • Length: 6,415 yards
    • Course Designer: Donald Steel, Tom MacKenzie, Martin Ebert
    • Founded: 1909
    • Signature Hole: 1st

Sutton Golf Club

Sutton Golf Course is located on the Cush Peninsula, only 7 miles (11 km) from Dublin city centre. It is one of the best courses in Ireland if you’re looking to play a challenging nine holes. This links-style course is made up of multiple blind spots, dog legs, hidden bunkers and tight fairways. It’s a challenging feat, even for experienced golfers, with out-of-bounds areas on nearly every hole!

Top holes:

Hole 3 is a great par 5 and the fairway tightens as you approach the green.

Hole 4 is a difficult par to make, but a long, tight drive down the right makes an ideal shot.

Hole 9, the club’s signature hole, presents a significant challenge with an out-of-bounds area running along the entire right-hand side.

Sutton Golf Club

    • Location: Cush Point, Burrow Road, Sutton, Dublin 13, Ireland
    • Par: 70
    • Length: 5,758 yards
    • Course Designer: Paddy Merrigan
    • Founded: 1890
    • Signature Hole: 9th



Which golf club in Northern Ireland has hosted The Open Golf Tournament?

Back in 1951, the Royal Portrush Club held its first Open Championship. This championship course marked the first time that the Open was hosted outside of Great Britain, having returned in 2019 and scheduled again for 2025.

Which golf clubs are in Northern Ireland?

Castlerock Golf Club, Ardglass Golf Club, Royal County Down Golf Club (championship links), Holywood Golf Club and Clandeboye Golf Club are a few fantastic golf courses found in Northern Ireland.


Final Thoughts

As we conclude our tour of Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s best-hidden gem golf courses, we hope you feel inspired to venture to these secluded fairways. Praised by professionals and locals alike, each course offers not just a game, but an experience woven into the tapestry of Irish natural beauty and promises to test the skill of avid golfers.

From the meandering stream of Dingle Golf Course to the unchanged 17th hole of Portsalon; you’ve certainly scored a hole-in-one with any of these Irish golf courses!

So “grip ‘n rip it” and embark on an unforgettable golfing journey – book your golf tours and let the games begin!