Home to Portmarnock, Baltray and The K Club, East Ireland is a Mecca for golfers from all around the world. Situated within easy reach of Dublin airport, the golf courses and resorts on the east coast are always popular with visitors from abroad. Once you have tasted the alluringly challenging links golf on offer here, it's easy to see why. This page gives full details of the best and a directory of the rest.
This traditional links course has changed very little since it was redesigned in 1938 by noted architect Tom Simpson. Length and accuracy on an unforgiving course which is both long and narrow. Steady, no-frills golf which keeps the ball safely on the fairway will pay dividends. Would-be crowd-pleasers that go wrong could land you in another area code.
One of Ireland's most famous and prestigious golf courses, Portmarnock is also among its most expensive. Having hosted an impressive back catalogue of major tournaments, this picturesque course enjoys a global reputation for relatively open and surprisingly forgiving links golf. Avid fans may recognise the distinctive dogleg-left 14th hole (par 4) with a raised green which, at least visually, is perhaps the highlight of the course.
Visitors from the United States will find the parkland golf on offer at The K Club very familiar. And not just because so many televised tournaments have been held here. With Pinehurst, Sawgrass and Doral all much closer to home, many US tourists may choose to stay away in favour of courses which showcase the links golf which makes the Irish game so different. But those who bypass this iconic club will be missing out on meticulous course maintenance, flawless greens and top-class amenities.
When visionary golf-course designer Pat Ruddy flew over Brittas Bay in the 1980s, he beheld the same stretch of sand dunes and coastal grassland that countless others had witnessed before him. But what Ruddy envisaged what so much more than that, and the result is what we now call The European Club. With undulating, meandering fairways and skilfully placed bunkers, this is not a course for beginners. But experienced golfers should make this a firm fixture on their bucket list.
It's hard to imagine a more pleasant or more picturesque start to a day's golf than the par-five first hole at Wicklow Golf Club. From then on, be warned that the day might get worse on a course that takes no prisoners. The coastal links-like terrain is hilly and lined with strategically placed gorse and incredibly deep bunkers. The rough varies from very tricky to borderline impossible. The course is technically a parkland, but oftens feels and plays like a links. In short, this is a course for experienced golfers.