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The Best Irish Open Venues

By: Golfshake Editor | Wed 30 Jun 2021

The Island of Ireland boasts a remarkably strong collection of golf courses, which for some represents the finest offering on the planet. Since it was first played in 1927, the Irish Open has been a fine showcase for these stunning layouts.

From the likes of Ballybunion, Lahinch and Killarney in the South West, across to Royal County Down and Royal Portrush in the North East, there is an overwhelming depth of quality to choose from. 

Providing further insight behind each of the 21 hosts of the Irish Open, we share their unique Golfshake Rating and featured commentary from regular golfers submitted in reviews by the Golfshake Community.

Scenic, challenging, exhilarating, these are the Best Irish Open Venues!

Royal County Down Golf Club

Royal County Down

County: Down

Years Hosted: 1928, 1935, 1939, 2015

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Review Comment: "A great links course, which doesn't overly penalise the errant shot. A lot of blind shots, and a caddie is recommended for the first time you play it. Long; regardless of handicap. Very fast, hard greens; probably from the constant wind off the sea; hard to stop the ball. Not cheap, but a once-in-a-lifetime must play!"

Belvoir Park Golf Club

County: Antrim

Years Hosted: 1949, 1953

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Review Comment: "Superb course in excellent condition. Well maintained. Beautiful clubhouse with lovely food too."

Mount Juliet Hotel & Golf Course

Mount Juliet

County: Kilkenny

Years Hosted: 1993-1995, 2021

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Review Comment: "Mount Juliet is one of Ireland’s best parkland courses. It is situated just outside Kilkenny and about two hours from Dublin. There’s a new clubhouse since I last played there. The first four holes and the last three are a great test of golf with number 13 the feature hole."

Druids Glen

Druids Glen

County: Wicklow

Years Hosted: 1996-1999

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Review Comment: "Amazing course, beautiful, tough, but playable. Some of the most beautiful holes on any course and some of the most difficult."

Ballybunion Golf Club


County: Kerry

Years Hosted: 2000

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Review Comment: "Ballybunion Golf Club is the jewel in the crown of Ireland's golf courses and is definitely worth a visit. It should be on every golfer's bucket list and every time you visit you just can't wait to come back. Every day, every game, every hole and indeed every shot is different at Ballybunion and no two rounds will be similar."

Adare Manor

County: Limerick

Years Hosted: 2007, 2008

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Review Comment: "This is an exceptionally well-conditioned, designed and maintained golf facility that will be a global leader for many years to come. It is likely to set the standard for others to follow and it was an absolute pleasure to be given the chance to experience all this resort has to offer."

Ballyliffin Golf Club


County: Donegal

Years Hosted: 2018

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Review Comment: "Great course, playing on what I thought was a breezy day - oh no, said the locals, this is a flat calm! Greens superb, friendly people. I'll be back!"

Lahinch Golf Club


County: Clare

Years Hosted: 2019

Golfshake Rating: 5.00

Review Comment: "Incredible golf course. Brutal but brilliant. Wish I'd booked a caddie though because there are an awful lot of blind shots. Doubt there is a better links course in the world (I've played a fair few)."

Royal Portrush Golf Club

Royal Portrush

County: Antrim

Years Hosted: 1930, 1937, 1947, 2012

Golfshake Rating: 4.96

Review Comment: "The most amazing golfing experience of my life! Enjoyed every aspect of the course."

County Louth Golf Club

County Louth

County: Louth

Years Hosted: 2004, 2009

Golfshake Rating: 4.80

Review Comment: "Great golf course, one of the best on the East Coast of Ireland. The greens had been hollow tinned when I played it but the rest of the course was really good. They have recently done some super work on the course including adding in grass paths and up-grading the runoffs on a number of greens."

Cork Golf Club

Cork Golf Club

County: Cork

Years Hosted: 1932

Golfshake Rating: 4.77

Review Comment: "This is a lovely old style golf course well worth playing with emphasis on good driving from tees."

The K Club

K Club

County: Kildare

Years Hosted: 2016

Golfshake Rating: 4.72

Review Comment: "Quality course which is truly underrated. I would highly recommended playing this course. Very challenging, especially when windy."

Carton House

Carton House

County: Kildare

Years Hosted: 2005, 2006, 2013

Golfshake Rating: 4.67

Review Comment: "Superb course, tough and more bunkers than I have ever seen on a golf course. Great challenge and so quiet. Really is worth a visit and will go again!"

Galgorm Castle

Galgorm Castle

County: Antrim

Years Hosted: 2020

Golfshake Rating: 4.66

Review Comment: "Fabulous course, definitely one of Northern Ireland’s top parklands. Played in December on greens most courses would die for in June."

Killarney Golf & Fishing Club


County: Kerry

Years Hosted: 1991, 1992, 2010, 2011

Golfshake Rating: 4.62

Review Comment: "This a great course and a great club, good enough to host the Irish Open and relaxed and friendly enough for anybody to play. The whole course is in great condition and I've always found it like this."

Fota Island Resort

Fota Island

County: Cork

Years Hosted: 2001, 2002, 2014

Golfshake Rating: 4.55

Review Comment: "The best course I have ever played, superb facilities, immaculate greens. Out of this world."

Portstewart Golf Club


County: Derry

Years Hosted: 2017

Golfshake Rating: 4.51

Review Comment: "Amazing golf course, front 9 best in Europe, very enjoyable. Should have played better!"

Malone Golf Club

Malone Golf Club

County: Antrim

Years Hosted: 1933

Golfshake Rating: 4.34

Review Comment: "A superb course. Immaculate condition on every hole. Just the right amount of challenge and a good variety of holes.Everything about this course leads to a most enjoyable day."

Portmarnock Golf Club


County: Dublin

Years Hosted: 1927, 1929, 1934, 1938, 1946, 1948, 1976-1982, 1986-1990, 2003

Golfshake Rating: 4.30

Review Comment: "Truly stunning course, easily makes its way into my top 5 list of best courses I've played, somehow reminds me very much of Royal Dornoch. Great facilities, lunch was included in the price, people were very friendly, can't wait to go back."

Woodbrook Golf Club

County: Wicklow

Years Hosted: 1975

Golfshake Rating: 3.80

Review Comment: "Lovely course with friendly staff - setting is great beside the sea, greens a tough test too."

Royal Dublin Golf Club

Royal Dublin

County: Dublin

Years Hosted: 1931, 1936, 1950, 1983-1985

Golfshake Rating: N/A

So, what is your favourite Irish Open venue, and have you played any of them? If you would like to experience the Emerald Isle and discover these magnificent courses for yourself, then our travel partner Golfbreaks has tremendous packages available to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland!

Be part of the action with a selection of unique golf tournament experiences, from playing in a pro-am with the stars to watching the action at golf’s most illustrious events. Whether it’s the Masters or The Open, The Ryder Cup or WM Phoenix Open, build your own bespoke package with the experts at Golfbreaks.com.

What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Tags: travel Irish Open Ireland golfbreaks Golf Courses european tour daily picks Courses

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