With over 350 outstanding golf courses in Ireland, golf nuts like me really are spoilt for choice. In addition to possessing an incredible variety of tracks, in Ireland golf has become very accessible, with most clubs putting forward reasonable membership prices and one day green fees, especially for younger players. This has allowed me to play a fair amount of the incredible courses our Island has to offer; here I share a few of my favourites.
Connemara Golf Links
My father and I played this gem during a trip to Galway, and we certainly didn’t regret it. We were fortunate enough to play Connemara on an incredible summers evening, which allowed us to fully absorb the incredible elevation changes and undulations of the course. A prime example is the Par 5 17th. With the setting summer sun in our eyes, we initially couldn’t figure out where the green was, only to realize that it was perched high above the fairway, carved beautifully within the rugged dunes. Connemara was definitely one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf I’ve ever had.
Ariel shot of Connemara: Photography by Connemaragolflinks.com
Royal Portrush Golf Club
I’ve been lucky enough to play this formidable venue of a few occasions, and it never disappoints. With very few blind shots, what you see is what you get with Portrush. The course plays true and fair, but demands that every part of your game must be sharp, particularly around the greens. The view from the 5th green is something that has always stood out to me, giving players a panoramic view of the North Coast and the infamous White Rocks of Portrush. I have also managed to nab a par or two on Portrush’s signature holes, the Par 3 16th known as “Calamity Corner” (let’s not mention the bogeys and doubles), which only leaves you eager to play this Open Championship venue once again.
Iconic 5th green at Royal Portrush: Photography by linksmagazine.com
K Club (Palmer)
Host to Rory McIlroy’s Irish Open victory in 2016 and the 2006 Ryder Cup, the K Club definitely takes the prize for my favourite parkland layout in Ireland. Growing up playing links golf, it is quite enjoyable from time to time to play inland golf, with luscious fairways and typically less windy conditions. The K Club is an incredibly well manicured layout, with water hazards lurking seemingly on every hole. Designed by Arnold Palmer, you can definitely feel his influence , with the course playing more like a American PGA Tour layout than your traditional Irish parkland course. I think that it is because the K Club was so different to anything I had previously played , is what makes it stand out in my memory.
Ariel view of 16th hole at the K Club: Photography by kclub.ie
Wooden Bridge Golf Club
Nicknamed the “Augusta of the South”, this parkland treat in County Wicklow was just such good fun to play. The course itself is situated in a valley, surrounded by dense woodland, giving the course a feeling of maturity. The location must have inspired me that day, as a 15 year me shot -1 on the front 9. Although I couldn’t quite match this on the inward 9, Wooden Bridge still stands out as one of my most memorable days on the course.
Ariel shot of Wooden Bridge Golf Club: Photography by clubchoiceireland.com
I haven’t based these choices off courses rankings, but simply based it off which courses I had the most fun playing and which ones I would go back to the quickest. If I was asked to rank them 1-4, I couldn’t, because they are all so different and stand out for different reasons. I think I can happily sit on the fence and just appreciate each course for what they are, and look forward to giving them another go in the future!
Graham Curry is an experience caddie at Castlerock Golf Club on the North Coast of Ireland, and the founder of Handicaddie.com. Visit our website and track our progress up to our launch by signing up to our newsletter