Ireland's often thrillingly wild coastline is home to some of the world's greatest links courses – from Royal County Down in the north, to Waterville and in the south west, Portmarnock in the east and Old Head in the south
NCG TOP 100s
Royal County Down is a dreamy, awe-inspiring course, an assault on the senses. If you do not fall in love with it then perhaps links golf is not for you.
GB & Ireland, Ireland and Northern Ireland
Framed by the beautiful sea, the Dunluce links at Royal Portrush, famed for being the only non-British mainland host of The Open, is a special place.
Portmarnock is about more than just aesthetics. It is an Irish Muirfield and much like its Scottish counterpart, is adored by golf’s very best players.
Dublin, GB & Ireland and Ireland
American designer Tom Fazio's work means Waterville is a links that combines tradition with bold invention, and on barely a single hole does the pace slacken.
GB & Ireland, Ireland and West Coast of Ireland
Lahinch, the Irish St Andrews, has only in the past few years begun to fulfil its true potential as one of the very best. A raw, rugged and brilliant links.
GB & Ireland, Ireland, West Coast of Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
That this wild, uncompromising links has been in place for years becomes clear after just one look. Ballybunion Old is an essential experience of Irish golf.
Unforced and endlessly varied, The Island is the most natural of links. Surrounded on three sides by water, this course is for those seeking the real deal in top-quality Irish links golf.
The redesign of Adare Manor has elevated this Limerick inland delight to new heights, a course that may become the finest European Ryder Cup venue of this century.
Ireland and GB & Ireland
County Louth is a seaside course of rare consistency, beautifully draped across its landscape, only lightly bunkered and never forced.
For the purist, County Sligo is in a class of its own in the north west and it certainly has a different feel to anywhere else within a hundred miles.
Like Kingsbarns, the golf experience at Trump Ireland Doonbeg is a spectacular, fun layout, on an amazing piece of land. It makes sure you have a good day.
The European is spectacular beyond belief in certain places, notably on the back nine when a succession of holes run parallel to the ocean.
Those fortunate enough to play this staggering track should expect sensory overload. Old Head of Kinsale is guaranteed to stand your back hairs on end.
GB & Ireland, Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Dramatic, imposing and intimitading, the Arnold Palmer-designed Tralee offers ocean views from every hole, and a world class test from first hole to last.
Depending on the weather and which set of tees you are using, the Ballyliffin Glashedy can be a brutal test in beautiful surroundings.
GB & Ireland, Ireland and Donegal
The drive through County Mayo's peat bogs is worth every last mile because Carne is a course the like of which you will never have seen before.
Ballyliffin Old would be much diminished without its omnipresent weather, but as it is the holes change in character from day to day, and even hour to hour.
Enniscrone offers golf on a grand scale, but it is certainly not the case that hole after hole calls for a drive and a wood or long iron to get home.
Rosapenna Sandy Hills is almost impossibly spectacular. Never mind poor holes, Sandy Hills only very rarely drops into the realms of average.
The Royal County Down Annesley links has become so much more than a second course, and could well become one of the truly great courses in Ireland in a short period of time.
GB & Ireland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Dark financial days are now behind Lough Erne, which looks every inch today like the luxury resort it was originally built to be.
GB & Ireland and Ireland
All you need to know about this brilliant Irish course
What local schoolteacher Des Giffin created at Portstewart is extraordinary, and the front nine is some enthusiasts' idea of the best stretch they’ve ever played.
You enjoy holes routed through majestic sand dunes and when you emerge from these towering masses you catch views of Donegal.
One of Ireland’s most under-rated links, the front nine at Portsalon might be more consistently excellent but there are also superb holes coming home.
Donegal, GB & Ireland and Ireland
Connemara is characterised by rocky outcrops, with white stones peeking through coarse grasses, that lead to some terrific green sites.
The Old Tom Morris at Rosapenna is a perfect compliment to the rigours of sister course the Sandy Hills.
Donegal, GB & Ireland, Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
Donegal, GB & Ireland, Ireland and West Coast of Ireland
Sometimes courses designed by famous golfers do not bear their hallmark but Portmarnock Links is very much in the mould of its creator, Bernhard Langer.
GB & Ireland, Ireland and Dublin
When it seems time for something completely different, a journey to the quirky yet beautiful Cruit Island would fit the bill more aptly than most.
Donegal, GB & Ireland, Ireland, West Coast of Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
From the moment you stand on the tee at The K Club Palmer, you sense an immense atmosphere and get the feeling that you are playing something very special.
Dublin and Ireland
You might think that the Dunluce stealing prime ground from the Royal Portrush Valley course would leave it diminished. The result is the exact opposite.
Druids Glen is a gentle and soft experience. That is not to say it is easy - far from it - but the pristine and verdant fairways are often flanked by beautiful fauna and colourful flora.
Ardglass is a beautiful clifftop course, hugging the coastline for nearly half its routing and producing wonderful, pleasant holes across the rest of the layout.
Ireland, Northern Ireland and GB & Ireland Fun
In the background on the far side of the water are the MacGillycuddy's Reeks and on a sunny day, the Killarney Killeen is a very special place to be.
The No.2 course at this famed club - but arguably has even more drama than the famed Old.
GB & Ireland Fun, Ireland and West Coast of Ireland
For setting alone, it is hard to beat Royal Dublin, which stands on the golf-course-sized Bull Island and is accessed by a rickety wooden bridge.
The old Irish saying, Cead Mile Failte means 100,000 welcomes. In a land renowned for its welcome this proverb could well have been written for Dooks.
Ireland and Donegal
Ireland and West Coast of Ireland
The Carton House Montgomerie is a beast with its incredibly demanding bunkering. Not only are there lots of them, but they are horribly deep.
Upgrades to some greens and changes to the signature par-3 15th in recent years have maintained Malone's reputation as a fine venue.
Ireland and Northern Ireland
The new Irish home of the PGA, Slieve Russell has sheer scale and quality facilities, something that registers the moment you drive through the imposing gates.