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  • Writer's pictureSeán Brennan

Off the beaten track: Hidden gems

Updated: May 30


Carne Golf Links, Co. Mayo
Carne Golf Links, Co. Mayo

When most people think of golf in Ireland, the first courses that come to mind are likely the famous links courses like Ballybunion, Royal Portrush, and Lahinch. While these courses are certainly worth playing, they can also be crowded and expensive. Fortunately, Ireland is also home to many lesser-known courses that are just as beautiful and challenging, but often less crowded and more affordable. Here are some hidden gems of Irish golf that are worth playing:


  1. Carne Golf Links: Located in County Mayo, Carne Golf Links is one of the most remote courses in Ireland. But the journey is well worth it for the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the challenging links-style course. Designed by Eddie Hackett, the course has been ranked as one of the best in Ireland and is a must-play for any serious golfer.

  2. Portsalon Golf Club: This picturesque course is located on the shores of Lough Swilly in County Donegal and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The course was designed by renowned golf architect Pat Ruddy and features fast greens and challenging bunkers.

  3. Castlerock Golf Club: Situated on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland, Castlerock Golf Club is a hidden gem that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby Mussenden Temple. The course is challenging but fair, and is well-regarded by both locals and visitors.

  4. Enniscrone Golf Club: This links course in County Sligo offers some of the most dramatic and challenging golf in Ireland. With towering sand dunes and ocean views, the course is as beautiful as it is challenging. Designed by Eddie Hackett, the course has been ranked as one of the best in Ireland and is a must-play for any serious golfer.

  5. Skellig Bay Golf Club: Located in County Kerry, Skellig Bay Golf Club offers stunning views of the Skellig Islands and the surrounding countryside. The course is challenging but fair, and features fast greens and well-placed bunkers.

  6. Ardglass Golf Club: This course, located in County Down, is situated on a cliff overlooking the Irish Sea. With stunning views and a challenging links-style course, Ardglass is a true hidden gem.

  7. Connemara Golf Links: Located in the wilds of Connemara in County Galway, this course is a true test of golfing skill. With rolling hills and stunning views of the Atlantic, Connemara Golf Links is a hidden gem that should not be missed.

  8. Narin & Portnoo Golf Club: Situated on the rugged coast of County Donegal, this links course offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby hills. The course is challenging but fair, and is a true hidden gem of Irish golf.

  9. Rosapenna Golf Resort: This golf resort, located in County Donegal, offers two stunning courses: the Old Tom Morris Links and the Sandy Hills Links. Both courses are challenging and beautiful, and are true hidden gems of Irish golf.

  10. The Island Golf Club: Located just north of Dublin, this links course offers stunning views of the Irish Sea and the nearby island of Lambay. With fast greens and challenging bunkers, The Island Golf Club is a true hidden gem of Irish golf.


In conclusion, while the famous links courses in Ireland are certainly worth playing, there are many lesser-known courses that are just as beautiful and challenging. These hidden gems offer the opportunity to experience the beauty and challenge of Irish golf without the crowds and expense of the more well-known courses. If you're planning a golf trip to Ireland, be sure to include some of these hidden gems on your itinerary.

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