In the realm of golf, Ireland is often overshadowed by Scotland, where the game was born in the late 15th century. But when golf made its way over to Ireland in the mid-1800s, the sport quickly gained widespread popularity. In the 1880s, Ireland established the first golfing clubs in the world, sparking a long, rich history of golfing in the country. Today, Ireland has over 250 courses and Irish golfing is considered some of the best in the world.
For the most part, Irish courses have remained immaculately preserved since their 19th-century foundations. For example, the Royal Curragh, the first known golf course in Ireland, dates back to 1852, but is going strong in 2014. The Curragh is a massive course, occupying 5000 acres interspersed with historic sites and enclosed by the thoroughbred racetrack of the same name. Lahinch, in County Clare, was founded in 1894 by golf pioneer Old Tom Morris and was recently updated by English designer Martin Hawtree. Lahinch has established a name among top tier courses for good reason, and professional golfer Phil Mickelson has called it his favorite links course.
It’s hard to argue with the beauty of Irish golf courses. From Donegal in the north all the way down to Kerry in the south, golf courses dot the Atlantic coastline, adding magnificent seascapes and an air of surf to the game. In the south and east, parkland and heath land play host to many newer clubs. Finally, courses in the Midlands utilize the natural rolling land and lakeside scenes to create unparalleled golfing experiences.
Local and Global Popularity
The popularity of golf has skyrocketed in Ireland over the last twenty years. As some of the old courses have celebrated centenaries, new golf clubs are popping up everywhere, with an average of 11 new course appearing each year. These days, over 500,000 people (about 300,000 locals) enjoy golfing each year in Ireland.
The Emerald Isle draws golfers from around the world. Ballybunion, Portmarnock, Royal Portrush, Old Head, and more all hold prestigious places among the golfing pantheon. With so many famous courses, there’s plenty of room for locals and tourists to tee off together.
Golf in Ireland isn’t just for the pros. Actor Bill Murray has commented, “My favorite place to play golf is in Ireland … It’s the most beautiful country to play golf in, and when you come as a guest to play golf you are treated like a king.” Across the board, from the 16 handicapper to the golfing veteran, Ireland offers an unparalleled golfing experience.
Let us help you plan the perfect Emerald Isle golf experience!
Liz and Mike Kohler
The Family Odyssey
The Family Odyssey combines luxury, sports and culture for adventures that the whole family is sure to enjoy. We go to inspiring destinations so that kids can learn more about the world and themselves.
Show Your Family the World! Stay in a French Chateau. Learn to make the best pizza ever. Bike around the Loire. Ride around on a Jeep looking for monkeys. Lots of adventure awaits on every trip.
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