Ireland’s often thrillingly wild coastline is home to some of the world’s greatest links courses – from Royal County Down and Royal Portrush in the north, to Waterville and Ballybunion in the south west, Portmarnock and The Island in the east and Old Head in the south.
What better time to produce our first ranking of the best golf courses in Ireland? The Open has just been held in the country for the first time since 1951, and it was a predictably epic week on the island’s north-east coast – capped by an emotional home victory. The week showcased Irish golf in magnificent style; not only was Royal Portrush a predictably impressive host, but wherever you looked on social media there were visitors to Ireland raving about playing other courses in the country.
Ireland’s elite courses are the match of anywhere else in Britain – try a fun game of the top 15 in Ireland v the top 15 in England or Scotland – but its strength in depth is also impressive.
That is reflected in this inaugural ranking of the best of Ireland, because while that statement is particularly relevant for the top 20, the rest of the top 50 is also seriously competitive.
So, joining high-end modern courses are traditional links that have been upgraded – witness the likes of Narin & Portnoo, Portsalon, Strandhill and the No.2s at Portrush and County Down – as well as historic inland courses touched by great architects.
As a result, this high-class top 50 has something for all tastes and budgets.
There are trips waiting to be planned to every part of the country and we hope you enjoy learning a bit about the courses involved.
Everyone always thinks their panel is best, but we can’t imagine many on any country can match ours; this is a seriously well-informed, well-travelled collection of Irish golfing brains.
We hope you enjoy discovering what are the very best courses in the country-of-the-moment.
NCG Top 100s: Ireland