The Island Golf Club


The Island Golf Club is one of the most interesting Golf Clubs in the Dublin Area. It is well located in the remote and tranquil estuary of the River Broadmeadow between Donabate and  Malahide. This classic true links course has a quirky charm with the sea on three sides and is established in rugged terrain with wild high sand dunes more normally associated with those on the West Coast of Ireland. It is overlooked by the County Dublin village of Malahide and is only 15 minutes from Dublin Airport and 30 minutes from Dublin City. Originally the only convenient access to it was by boat from Malahide which lasted from 1890 until 1973. For its first 62 years it was administered as a very exclusive private club which held back its development. It modernised in the 1950’s and since has exploited its natural terrain dominated by  towering sand dunes to gain a place in the top ten golf courses in the Republic. Major changes to the front nine in 2020 improved the course considerably and many forecast a further rise in the rankings.


Historic Summary

The Island Golf Club is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland founded in 1890. Whereas many early clubs had military connection it was from its outset a private club. The 10 founder members known as the “Syndicate” controlled membership ruthlessly. They were originally  members of Royal Dublin Golf Club which forbade golf on Sundays and this rule was largely the reason for seeking another location. In 1887 four of the dissenters rowed across the estuary of the River Broadmeadow from Malahide to a spur of land known as ‘the Island’. Their plan was to survey the terrain and judge its suitability as a golf links. They were satisfied and  a lease was negotiated. Eighteen holes were laid out without any significant earth moving. The person responsible for the initial design is not known and is likely to be one or more of the members. The modern era of the Club was triggered in 1952 when the “Syndicate” of the day handed over its entire interest in the club to the overall membership. Since then golfing at The Island has progressed with increasing membership numbers, entering inter-club competitions, hosting national tournaments, updating and redesigning the links. There has been an ongoing continuous improvement of club facilities and the course.


The Island Golf Course ( 6439 meters (7042 yards), par 72)

Exploiting its wonderful landscape and maintaining its quirky charm the course has developed a growing international reputation. It currently hosts Regional Qualifying for The Open Championship and co-hosted Strokeplay qualifying for the British Amateur Championship in 2019. The Island places the emphasis heavily on the two-shotter with twelve par fours. It is seaside golf at its best, raw and stirring with a number of golf holes that burn into the memory particularly in the rousing finish. The course has been altered several times to become the championship course of today. Improvements have been made to the links over the years by Fred Hawtree, Eddie Hackett, Martin Hawtree and more recently by Mackenzie and Ebert. The recent changes have been aimed at improving the front nine. The layout now contains twelve par fours, three par threes and three par five holes. The variety in the layout is considerable with elevated greens, sunken greens, shots along the water and shots in the dunes, undulating fairways, valleys, twists and turns  and fantastic greens. The opening hole is located in beautiful dunes and starts the round at a nice pace over gentle terrain, then the creative design gains momentum and excitement with great mix of long and short holes. On the front nine the variety among the seven par four holes is exceptional with each hole distinctive. Great holes on the front nine are the fifth, eighth and ninth. They replace some blind shots from the previous layout. It is tricky to pick your favourite holes as there is one sensational hole after another. The course tends to have tighter fairways than the typical layout and there are numerous elevation changes. The latest routing and firm turf keeps the golf at a high level and has great variety with different formations, hazard locations, green shapes and positions. It never lets you get too comfortable and is quick to apply punishment to the wayward shot. The stretch through twelve, thirteen and fourteen is generally considered the most difficult on the back nine. Then the final four holes are also an exceptional stern test needing some tenacity to score well. The Island is now special both technically and visually. It uses the natural lie of the land to frame holes instead of relying on expansive bunkers.


Selected Golf Hole

Several holes on the front nine have been updated or are new, a great improvement to the course

Hole 4 Portrane -143 meters, par 3, index12 – The first par three is played from an elevated tee cut out of massive dunes and is a scenic hole with views of the coast. The small green is shaped like an upside down saucer, difficult to hold and  protected by two bunkers.

Hole 7 Ridge -307 meters, par 4, index 18 – It is played from the highest tee on the links a slight dogleg left. The fairway is first wide, then narrows and widens again at the green. There is one fairway bunkers on the right and a riveted fairway bunker on the left which discourages longer hitters from trying to drive the green. The conservative play is tee shot short of the bunkers and a full shot to the green which can be difficult to hold. The green has a big fall off to the left and bushy thorns right and back.


The highlight of the back nine is the series between the 12th and 15th, a run of holes which tours the tip of the peninsula.

Hole 12 Valhalla – 401 meters, par 4, Index 1 - A testing dog-leg left with a valley fronting an elevated green. The best line is on the left as close as possible to a hill. From the hill it is a risky shot to the green. A tee shot too far right can run off the fairway into the right rough. This leaves a difficult approach shot.

Hole 13 Broadmeadow – 190 meters, par three, Index 7 – The bold will take on the beach needing careful club selection and a good strike to clear the large grass bunker guarding the front of the green. There is out of bounds on the right. The alternative is to bail out down the left side and chip on.

Hole 14 Old Clubhouse – 333 meters, par 4, Index 15 – Starts from the site of the original clubhouse.

A very intimidating short par four hole because of the narrow fairway just fifteen paces across. Anything right is in the bay, left is in deep rough. Aim for the edge of the left rough off the tee which will throw the ball into the centre of the fairway.


Amateur Championship – In 2019 The Island Golf Club co-hosted The Amateur Championship with Portmarnock Golf Club. This was only the second time the Championship had been held outside Britain. The Amateur Championship (sometimes called the British Amateur Championship), along with the United States Amateur Championship and the Walker Cup, is one of the world’s most prestigious amateur golf tournaments. It was first played in 1885. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews organise the tournament. The Championship has the widest international representation of any amateur event and is reserved for the top 288 amateurs from around the world. The winner gets invitations to three of the major championships, namely The Open Championship, U.S. Open, and U.S. Masters.

Irish golfers have been well represented over the years. In total, there have been nine Irish wins, three of these belonging to the great Joe Carr. The first stage of the Championship involves 288 players each playing one qualifying round at each of the two host clubs.. The top 64 qualifiers then enter the match-play stage at one club. Each match is played over eighteen holes except for the final which is contested over thirty-six holes.


Local Attractions

Malahide is a picturesque, homely seaside village which is popular with our clients as a base. It has historic character and the jewel in its crown is Malahide Castle; one of Ireland's oldest castles. It is well placed for easy access to four major links golf courses and the airport. Instead of driving into the city you can take the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train from Malahide station to the city centre. There are regular direct connections.

The Teeling Whiskey Distillery was established in the historic Liberties area of Dublin in 2015.  It was the first new whiskey distillery to have opened in Dublin in 125 years. Dublin had been a leading, whiskey distilling capital but the last of the original 37 Dublin distilleries closed in 1976, Tours are available but booking ahead is encouraged which can be done online. Teeling whiskeys follow the family tradition of quality over quantity. From grain to bottle the small batch production process ensures that each bottle of Teeling is crafted to the highest standard. 

The Little Museum of Dublin is a local history museum located in an 18th-century Georgian townhouse. The Little Museum narrates the history of the city in the 20th century providing data on life in Dublin during that time period. The Museum is a registered charity administered by Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority. The museum has over 5,000 items donated or loaned from the people of Dublin. Exhibitions in the museum include displays covering the 1916 Rising, U.S. President Kennedy's visit to Dublin, and happenings in Irish political and social history. For example the museum featured U2 the rock band as an exhibit.


Other attractions include Trinity College and College Green, Kilmainham Gaol, Kildare Street Museums and Houses of Parliament, Merrion Square, Dublin Castle, Mansion House, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral and the National Gallery of Ireland.

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