Irish golf fans are sure to enjoy our ultimate list of the top 50 holes in Ireland. Here we reveal 20-11.
4th, 404 yards, par 4
Once the home of the McCalmont family and of the Ballylinch Stud which produced many a champion, Mount Juliet is one of Ireland’s thoroughbred parkland courses. This lovely Jack Nicklaus design was set to host the Dubai Duty Free in May, and while the short third is one of the signature holes, water also plays a significant role at the fourth.
A medium-length par-four, the demanding tee shot must be threaded through a narrow gap and should you find the rough or fail to find the ideal spot down the left-hand-side, water will be on your mind. It protects the right side of the hole, meaning white knuckles are the order of the day as you try to find a green that slopes from back to front. Don’t go long either. A watery grave awaits there too.
13th, 491 yards, par 4
It’s easy to fall under the spell of Druids Glen, especially when standing on the elevated tee at this spectacular and beautiful par-four. Set in the glen which gives the course its name, it is played from an elevated tee to a fairway protected on the right by a meandering stream.
If you find the short grass, a long approach over water awaits. But you must make sure you don’t flirt with the overhanging tree on the right to find the green on this beautiful hole.
17th “An Muiríneach” (Hackett Course) 428 yards, par 4
Played from an elevated tee to a fairway with huge drop-offs on either side of the landing area, you must thread your second shot through a narrow gap to a long green protected by a huge swale on the right and a dune on the left.
It’s the epitome of the spirit of Carne, which was the last great course built by the late, great Eddie Hackett. A hole worthy of an Open Championship, where accuracy is the key at every turn, and a par is a great achievement. As Hackett said: “If ever the Lord intended land for a golf course, Carne has it.”
12th (Courcean Stage), 564 yards, par 5
Occupying a stunning headland reaching out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the Old Head of Kinsale is one of the greatest experiences in golf. With its iconic lighthouse, it’s spectacular from the word go and the 12th, which hugs the towering clifftops from start to finish, must be one of the most intimidating in the game, perched 300 feet above the broiling Atlantic. It certainly got Tiger Woods’ attention.
The story goes that when told the right-to-left dogleg was called the Courcean Stage, he said: “You should rename it and call it Holy S**t!”
1st (Tubber Patrick) 427 yards, Par 4
One of the grand opening holes in Irish golf, aim left off the tee but be careful to avoid the new bunkers at the corner of the dogleg if you are going to find the green in regulation. With St Patrick's Well - a source of water since the Stone Age - situated just a short chip from the tee, it might be wise to bless yourself before letting fly.
There are no bunkers on the hole, but two sound shots are required to find the green in regulation. With St Patrick’s Well – a source of water since the Stone Age – situated just a short chip from the tee, it might be wise to bless yourself before letting fly.
13th (Broadmeadow), Par 3, 223 yards
There’s something indescribably romantic about The Island, one of the jewels in Ireland’s links crown, bordered on three sides by water, its massive dunes the only protection from the winds that appear to blow almost incessantly.
While the 10th and 14th will get your attention, the short 13th is a classic short hole. It’s intimidating too, with out of bounds right and a grass bunker short, you can still play left and feed the ball in towards the pin and walk away unscathed.
17th (Ryan’s Daughter), 358 yards, par 4
The par-three third remains one of Tralee’s most spectacular holes, forcing you to play a terrifying shot across the foaming sea. But then Arnold Palmer’s first links design is teeming with great holes, and the 17th stands out as one of the most beautiful and enjoyable as it doglegs gently to the right.
While not long, it plays uphill, requiring an accurate drive and a testing uphill approach from around 150 yards to an exposed green overlooking Barrow Strand, a graveyard for the Spanish Armada and happily remembered by movie buffs for its role in David Lean’s epic, Ryan’s Daughter.
16th (The Long Bank), 545 yards, par 5
It says it all about the charms of Enniscrone in the wild west of Ireland that Finland’s Mikko Ilonen still speaks fondly of the great links by Killala Bay, scene of his 1999 West of Ireland Championship victory. The Dunes Course was designed by Eddie Hackett but the 16th, one of the new holes, was created by Donald Steel and Martin Ebert in the early 2000s and it’s a treasure.
Curving majestically from left to right at the foot of a towering dune, no bunkers are needed to make this spectacular, three-shot hole. It’s brilliance dawns as you walk to the 17th tee and survey its majesty from above.
12th (Mass Hole), 200 yards, par 3
The par-five 11th, Tranquility, is a beautiful hole, isolated in the dunes. But the par-three 12th remains one of Waterville’s, and Eddie Hackett’s, most iconic holes. Known as the Mass Hole, as the plaque nearby explains, it was where the locals celebrated Mass in secret, under pain of death during the 18th century.
The original links design called for the green to be placed in a hollow, but when local workmen declared the area to be sacred ground and refused to disturb the site, Hackett relocated it and created a masterpiece.
14th, 182 yards, par 3
It sits at the heart of what they call the Golden Triangle at the Donegal resort — that magical run from the 12th to the 15th on the Glashedy Course. With a backdrop of Glashedy Rock, the 14th is a beautiful par-three, tumbling downhill from the top of a high dune.
Its construction is a tale in itself. Some members were loathed to see their favourite hill disturbed, but designer Pat Ruddy had a vision and worked for 10 hours through the night in freezing February with two bulldozer men, two excavator operators and a dump-truck driver. The hole was completed by dawn’s early light and nobody complained. As Jon Rahm said: “The views from the seventh and 14th tees are probably some of the prettiest sights you’ll get in golf. It’s really beautiful.”
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