Five Irish golf courses in top World Rankings!

In the second half of the 19th century the first golf clubs were founded in Ireland as listed in the Table below. Some had Military connections or were started by Scottish and English settlers, or by local businessmen.

  • Five of them are in the World Rankings: Royal County Down, Portmarnock, Royal Portrush, Lahinch and Ballybunion.
  • Royal County Down, Portmarnock, Royal Portrush and typically the top 3 courses in Ireland.
  • Royal Dublin is unique in that it is only 3 miles from the centre of Dublin.
  • Malone and Royal Belfast (both in Belfast) are currently the highest ranked inland courses.
  • Athlone and Curragh are well regarded and often make Ireland top 100 from other listings.
  • Ardglass is not generally recognised by ranking panels but being close to Royal County Down it is enjoyed by many visiting golfers.
  • The nine Links Golf courses listed have proved to be most successful.

The Oldest Club – Members of The Curragh Golf Club play their golf over the Oldest Golf Course in Ireland, dating from 1852, when a course was laid out “on the links near Donnelly’s Hollow” by David Ritchie, from Edinburgh. The club’s historian Col. Wm. Gibson (retd) discovered this in 1981 and he has recently found that a Golf Club was established at the Curragh Camp by the Royal Lanark Militia in 1858; some 21 years prior to the institution of the currently recognised oldest club in Ireland, Royal Belfast (1881).

The 6,585-yard, par 72 course is routed over rolling terrain which is naturally well drained, allowing play during wet periods when others are closed. With just over a dozen bunkers in play, sand should not spoil your round too much here. There is evidence around the course of trenches and foxholes from old army training days but the most incongruous site to behold is the huge number of sheep which once grazed the fairways freely but are now confined to the rough.

If you would like to play the oldest known golf course in Ireland and some other stunning Irish golf click here and take a look at some of the golf trips we have to offer. It’s a beautiful magical place to play golf!

Irelands Oldest Golf Clubs

Date Golf Club Type 2012 Ranking Location
1858 Curragh Heathland 100+ County Kildare
1881 Royal Belfast Parkland 72 Belfast
1885 Royal Dublin Links 19 Dublin
1888 Royal Portrush Links 3 Causeway Coast
1889 Royal County Down Links 1 County Down
1892 Lahinch Links 6 County Clare
1892 Athlone Lakeside 100+ County Roscommon
1892 County Louth Links 9 North of Dublin
1893 Ballybunion Links 5 County Kerry
1894 County Sligo Links 11 Rosses Point Sligo
1894 Portmarnock Links 2 Outside Dublin
1894 Ballinasloe Parkland 100+ Galway
1894 Portstewart Links 17 Causeway Coast
1895 Malone Parkland 52 Belfast
1896 Ardglass Clifftop 100+ County Down
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