Ireland – Top 10 Links Golf Course reviewed by ordinary golfer
Links golf is played on the natural terrain of seaside dunes and land banks and requires different playing techniques than when playing on the more common parkland course. Ireland has the highest ratio of links courses in the world per head of population, even more than the “home of golf” that is Scotland. Links golf introduces more of the element of chance into the game rather than the “target” golf you find on some manicured parkland courses. Even a slight breeze can utterly transform a links course from a benign creature to a monster.
Arguments will always abound as to the best golf course in any country or region and the matter is by nature subjective. Every year dozens of well known magazines that review golf courses to a broad range of criteria course publish their Top 100 or a Top 10 links and parkland courses in a particular country or region. They review links and parkland courses throughout the country, but sometimes you wonder with what eyes are they are they looking at these courses.
Is their view that of the expert low single-figure handicap amateur or even the tour professional? Sometimes I would query the terms of reference that these reviews are based upon. I feel lack of consideration is given to what might make a great golf course from the point of view of players with handicaps from, say 10 to 24. An interesting statistic is that 95% of the world’s amateur golfers have a handicap of 15 or over and only 1% of the golfing population of the world have single-figure handicaps. Any professional golf course reviewer is by nature a fairly handy golfer and being so can perhaps make it difficult for them to view the course from the higher handicapper’s perspective. That is not to say that they don’t try – I have no doubt they do – but if you play of a handicap of 4, you don’t encounter the obstacles that a 20 handicapper will come across.
As a hacker playing off 12 with a love of links golf in particular, the following are my Top 10 links golf courses in Ireland. It may not necessarily agree with the glossy magazine reviewers but they reflect my own experiences and I think any golfer of any handicap low or high will find these fantastic courses. I did not rate courses I haven’t played which may explain some obvious omissions compared to a professional reviewer list. But here goes anyway, and let the arguments begin!
1. BALLYBUNION GOLF CLUB (Old Course), Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
2. PORTMARNOCK GOLF CLUB, Portmarnock, Co. Dublin
3. ROYAL COUNTY DOWN GOLF CLUB, Newcastle, Co. Down
4. THE EUROPEAN CLUB GOLF CLUB, Brittas, Co. Wicklow
5. DOONBEG GOLF CLUB, Doonbeg, Kilrush, Co. Clare
6. BALLYLIFFIN GOLF CLUB, Ballyliffin, Buncrana, Co. Donegal
7. ROYAL DUBLIN GOLF CLUB, Dollymount, Clontarf, Dublin 5
8. THE ISLAND GOLF CLUB, Corballis, Donabate Co. Dublin.
9. DONEGAL GOLF CLUB (MURVAGH) Murvagh Co. Donegal
10. COUNTY LOUTH GOLF CLUB, (BALTRAY) Baltray, Drogheda, Co. Louth