Golf guide to Dublin and Ireland’s east coast
Looking for a golf vacation to one of the greatest cities in the world? Dublin has so much to offer, from a variety of classic links, parklands and magnificent resorts.
Ireland’s thriving capital draws all manner of tourists attracted by the culture, history, the food, drink and vitality.
The city is over a thousand years old (founded by the Vikings in 841 AD) but the one constant has been the River Liffey, which flows through the city’s heart. This is home to the Book of Kells, Trinity College, Croke Park, Dublin Castle, U2 and Guinness.
Whether it’s the city center, the suburbs or further afield, there’s always lots to do and see, and plenty of places to stay. Several of those places also just happen to have a golf course attached. Portmarnock is one of the most popular in Dublin, whilst the K Club adds a luxury element slightly further out of the city.
Temple Bar, Dublin
Good craic & traditional pubs
Unlike other regions of Ireland (Northern Ireland, South West, and North West), you can elect to stay in one place for the duration of your golf trip or, at most, two and a golf course will pretty much always be outside your front door! It takes the pressure off and gives you greater scope to relax in the evenings. After all, if you’re staying around Dublin, you’re sure to find a pub that will become a favorite haunt.
Guinness has a certain allure for many visitors as a pint pulled in Ireland can’t be matched anywhere else in the world! The craft brewing industry has exploded in the past five years and, from humble beginnings, there are now well over 100 breweries across Ireland. Several pubs in Dublin are renowned for their selection, the Porterhouse in Temple Bar being one of the originals and still one of the best.
A plethora of links golf on your doorstep...
For links golf, there’s no doubt that the north side of Dublin city has the richest pickings. Several top clubs are even visible on your descent to Dublin Airport, which has direct flights to 16 North American cities and connections to dozens more. Golfers have been well known to walk off the plane, ignore the jet lag and step onto the 1st tee of a world-class course less than 30 minutes later.
Further afield, but within 40 miles of the city center lies a boon of Ireland’s great golf courses, links and parkland alike. Links courses include Seapoint, Co. Louth and Laytown & Bettystown to the north, and extend down to The European Club, in Co. Wicklow, to the south. In between lie those city links, The Island, Portmarnock Links, Portmarnock, St. Anne’s and Royal Dublin.
Bountiful parklands stretch north, south and west from Dublin. The most obvious and most popular with travelling golfers are those with four and five-star hotels attached (Druids Glen to the south and both the K Club and Carton House to the west) but many others offer highly exceptional golf. Killeen Castle, home of the 2011 Solheim Cup and a Jack Nicklaus ‘Signature’ course, is one of the biggest and most prominent (it is the longest in Ireland from the back tees).
The links on the east coast are vibrant, entertaining and the source of entertaining folklore. Co. Louth and Seapoint sit next to each other on the coastline, 40 miles north of the city, and are separated by little more than a rugged dune. The story goes that a group of Japanese golfers started their round at Co. Louth but finished on Seapoint’s 18th. It must have wrecked their scorecard as they would only have played 16 holes.
Co. Louth is now better known for the heroics of Irishman Shane Lowry, who won the Irish Open here as an amateur in 2009, beating Robert Rock in a rain-drenched play-off. That’s folklore which will last forever!
More tales surround The Island Golf Club, until the 1970s, this magical links could only be reached by a boat across the Malahide estuary. A road has since been built at the far end of the peninsula, and the foundations of the original clubhouse now form part of the 14th tee.
Closer to the city lies the behemoth that is Portmarnock Old. In terms of links strategy, these low dunes are home to one of the greatest tests in Irish golf. The greens are things of beauty and bedevilment. The village of Portmarnock may also be the ideal place to base yourself as city links courses are only minutes away.
The two closest to the city center lie on Bull Island, a sand spit three miles long and created thanks to the recommendations of Captain ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ Bligh, in 1800. The island is occupied by just three residents, St. Anne’s and Royal Dublin golf courses, as well as a world-famous UNESCO, designated nature reserve.
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist - UK & Ireland
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist, I help golfers find their ideal golfing getaway