Irish golf fans are sure to enjoy our ultimate list of the top 50 holes in Ireland. We start off with 50-41.
6th, 406 yards, par 4
Some golf holes just blow you away, and that’s not a thought you want standing on the sixth tee at Wicklow. The club’s signature hole features a daunting drive from a tee the locals call ‘The Nose’, perched just yards from the cliff’s edge. It requires a 190-yard carry over the rocks and crashing waves of the Irish Sea to reach the safely of the fairway.
A beautiful hole with stunning views, you can bail out right and struggle to make five or take the tiger line, close your eyes and pray.
15th, 535 yards, par 5
Fred Couples’ favourite hole when he played a match with designer Christy O’Connor Jnr at the opening of the course in 1993. Strategically placed water gives the faint-hearted an option of playing to the right of the well-trapped green.
With out of bounds left and trees right, a three-wood is a good option from the tee. A mid-iron right of the lake leaves you in position to attack a well-guarded green.
4th, 105 yards, par 3
A favourite course for our young touring players when home, this links jewel features some fantastic holes with the short fourth a real gem.
It plays downhill from a high tee, offering mouth-watering views of Lambay, Malahide and Howth as you ponder your plan of attack. Heavily protected by bunkers, you will struggle to make bogey if you miss the green.
7th (Warren), 395 yards, par 4
A straightaway par-four played from a high tee cut into the sand dunes to a fairway that narrows the further you hit the ball. The green is very undulating and well-protected with run-offs into deep greenside bunkers, demanding a precise approach. The green, while large, is effectively smaller than it looks.
Home club of Des Smyth and Declan Branigan, this is an exceptionally well-designed hole as to hit the driver the player has to be extremely accurate as the fairway narrows at around 270 yards. A lay-up off the tee, however, leaves a medium or long iron into a green which is very well protected.
4th, 391 yards, par 4
Home of the Open champion Shane Lowry, this stunning par-four plays uphill to a plateau fairway that then veers right, funnelling through a narrow valley to an elevated green that’s protected by bunkers (short and long).
You must hit a good drive to the left side of the raised plateau, leaving a 160-yard approach over the valley. One of Christy O’Connor Jnr’s best designs — and also the most expensive hole he created at Esker Hills — a par here is always a bonus.
18th, 553 yards, (455 for Ladies), par 5
A carry of 160 yards over the River Avoca is required to make the fairway from the white tees. The river then runs all the way up the left-hand side of a hole featuring nine well-placed bunkers, three of them in the landing zone.
With three more bunkers in the lay-up area and three more protecting the two-tiered green, par is always a good score here at this potential card-wrecker. Aim for the centre of the green with your third as shots heading left can easily run off the slope, out of bounds. A beauty.
10th, 474 yards, par 4
The lovely par-three second remains a classic, but the 10th resonates with many as a testing opening question on the back nine in many a Mullingar Scratch Trophy.
Refreshed after a quick pitstop in the clubhouse, it’s tempting to take on the big oak tree on the right, but the safe play is left, leaving a long approach (for the average golfer) to a well-bunkered green that sits at an angle to you, requiring excellent distance control.
1st, 335 yards, par 4
Opening holes are meant to set you at your ease, but if you turn up at Ardglass hoping for a gentle start, you are in for a rude awakening. This spectacular par-four is played from just in front of the clubhouse, across the rocks and the foaming Irish Sea to a sloping fairway requiring an accurate short iron approach to a narrow, elevated green.
The whole of Ireland is on your right, so don’t be afraid to hit a driver off the tee to the right-hand side of the fairway. With the flag generally in the middle or at the back of the green, make sure you carry the front bunker if you are to open your round with a par.
10th, 303 yards, par 4
Harry Colt has designed some of the game’s greatest courses and he weaved his magic at Royal Belfast, where those with vivid imaginations can see the ghost of the Titanic as they stare out onto Belfast Lough. The course has been lovingly restored in recent years and the short par-four 10th is just one of several outstanding holes.
Played from a low tee to a fairway plateau, it curves gently to the left with a high pine marking the tiger line to the pin. Not even Rory McIlroy could make that carry over the mature trees, though local lore claims he’s carried it with a three wood. The sensible play is a 200-yard tee shot up the right, leaving a tricky second to a tiny green. Magical.
There are many challenging holes at Hermitage, but few you look forward to playing as much as the august 10th. recently enhanced by (re)GOLF as part of a major renovation of the bunkers on the back nine.
Played from a high tee, it offers a panoramic view of the Liffey Valley towards a well-bunkered green that sits 200 feet below you with the river beyond. Commitment is everything, so pick your club with care, and watch that ball soar towards its target.
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