Ireland’s best golfing resorts

Dara Browne

Ireland is home to some of the most well-renowned golf resorts worldwide, including a favourite of professional golfer Tiger Woods. There are six resorts that stand out in particular.

The first of which is Adare Manor, in County Limerick. This spectacular course was originally designed by internationally recognised golf architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1995. The course was then adapted by American golf course architect Tom Fazio, during Adare Manor’s redevelopment in 2016-2017.

Fazio is a world-known, iconic designer, holding the record for the living designer with the most credits on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. He also constantly won the Golf Digest poll for Best Modern Day Golf Course Architect, meaning that the competition was discontinued.

The American designer has taken his talents overseas to create a captivating course with each hole unique in character. Fazio’s ethos of highlighting natural beauty and existing topography of a site is evident throughout the Adare Manor golf course.

Matured trees are planted throughout the Pure Distinction bent grass greens alongside the River Maigue, perfectly suited to the smooth, jazz-age luxury of the clubhouse. The Carriage House includes the Pro Shop, locker rooms and dining facilities.

The terrace enables guests to view the greens from their seats as they enjoy a variety of cocktails, beers and wine, with the option to retire to the snug or Cigar Lounge.

These are just some of the spectacular facilities available at Adare Manor. Others include the deluxe golf carts accompanied with a full GPS and scoring system, and caddy service.

A particular spectacle of the course is the high tech system built throughout. Each green and tee has underground drainage, irrigation and watery delivery installations and every bunker has the latest capillary concrete liner drainage technology.

In addition, it is just one of several courses in the world to have Sub Air technology, meaning constant air movement and temperature regulation in the root zone.

The course is both scenic and strategic in its design and caters for golfers of all abilities and desires.

Mount Juliet in Kilkenny is another superb golf course, famous for hosting a Tiger Woods-winning Championship in 2002 and voted Ireland’s Best Parkland Golf Course by the Golfer’s Guide to Ireland.

Woods is quoted saying the course is “absolutely gorgeous, the fairways are perfect, the greens are the best greens we’ve putted on all year, including the majors. These things are absolutely pure.”

Set across 180 acres, this course is similar to that of Adare Manor in its scenic and nature allure. Mount Juliet is designed by Jack Nicklaus and is ranked one of the world’s top parkland golf courses, seen for it’s vast variety of trees and river running through the grounds.

The 18 hole course includes 5 lakes with 80 bunkers dotted throughout. Particularly challenging and enticing is hole 16 which is entirely walled green almost completely surrounded by a bunker.

The course has also been chosen to host the 2020 Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open.

Mount Juliet are well-equipped for making your way around the greens. Push trollies for €4 and electric trollies for €20. Clubs can also be purchased in the Pro Shop for €55, including both Callaway or TaylorMade models.

Buggies are available for hire also for €50, but ensure they are booked in advance as their built in GPS and live positions and distance make them very popular.

The K-Club is another must-visit world famous 5 star golf resort in the heart of Kildare.

An exceptional feature of the K-Club that is lacking in the other resorts is its internationally known spa.

Only 30 minutes from Dublin, members of this club can enjoy complimentary membership to the spa as well as privileges in the hotel and activities in the resort.

Arnold Palmer, one of the staples in golf history and one of the 13 original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame designed this phenomenal course.

Palmer has designed courses in 25 countries across five continents and has designed two courses in the one resort in K-Club; The Ryder Cup Course and The Smurfit Course.

The Ryder Cup Course is one of the best courses in Europe and was host to Rory McIlroy’s European Tour Shot of the Year and 11 European Opens.

Some holes to look out for are the 4th hole; Palmer’s top pick, the 16th hole; Inis Mor and the 17th hole; Half Moon.

The Smurfit course is an inland links course with dramatic topography. Vantage points for spectators to view the game are placed throughout the torrains, making the course accessible to all.

Particularly special holes are the 3rd hole; Kingfisher Realm, the 7th hole; Shallow Quarry, the 16th hole; Little Grebe Dive and the 18th hole; Swan Island.

The membership for The Ryder Cup Course and The Smurfit Course are separate, as each courses are so unique with different characteristics.

Since 1892, Doonbeg has been considered an ideal space for links golf and in 2002 Doonbeg golf course was opened. In 2014 the course was taken over by The Trump Organisation and has been renamed to Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg.

The links course stretches over 400 acres of County Clare alongside the Atlantic Ocean and has been bestowed with being the top Resort in Europe by Conde Nast Traveler.

Designed by Dr. Martin Hawtree, the course offers views of the magnificent ocean at hole 16 and 18 but smells like fresh sea air all the way through.

The views of the sea and the greens can also be seen from Trump’s Bar and Restaurant in the hotel or from the Pro Shop.

Caddy service is available throughout each and every game and the golf shop includes big brands such as Adidas and clothes for every weather condition possible.

Castlemartyr Golf Club also includes such amenities.

Ron Kirby’s 18 hole course is situated in one of the most historical parts of Ireland, next to Fota Wildlife Park and Old Jameson Distillery.

The Cork resort has an inland links style, similar to Doonbeg, and is designed to be both challenging and pleasurable for all players.

This course caters to players of all abilities in an engaging manner, including beginner lessons, private lessons, on-course lessons and a half day golf clinic. The clinic is designed to assess each player and tailors technique and equipment for each person.

Teaching and development at the resort is helped by PGA professional Alan Gleeson.

The resort is perfectly situated just 30 minutes from Cork Airport and a mere 20 minutes from Cork City.

Lastly, is the impeccable Dromoland Castle. This 15th century castle is just the beginning of the enchanting 6.3km championship 18 holes.

This course was also designed by Ron Kirby and JB Carr and is the perfect mix of risk and reward.

Each bay is fitted with Golf-Tech’s second generation automatic ‘Power Tees’ which alleviate the need to bend down and allow more enjoyable play time.

This very technical resort highlights the importance of accuracy and right conditions when playing. During the summer months, the two 500 square meter grass teeing areas are open for use to mirror the conditions on the fairway.

The Bunker and Chipping Green areas also offer a variety of slopes, lies and grass lengths to practice on.

A fierce challenge awaits those that wish to play it, however the view is always a guaranteed reward no matter the scorecard.

Dara Browne