We are keen golfers here at Dingadeal, and so we thought it was about time that we offered some advice to any golf groups or golf societies coming to Ireland. We’re based in Cork, and are lucky enough to live a stone’s throw away from some of the best golf courses in the world. That may seem like a massive claim to make, but let me explain.
Cork is next to Kerry, in the south of Ireland, and Kerry is home to some of the most famous golf links courses in the world. I’m going to list my Top 5 courses in Kerry, and as a bonus at the end, mention a great-value golf links that is not as well-known, but is certainly worth the trip.
The first thing I would recommend to any international golf groups coming to Kerry in Ireland is to make Killarney your base for the trip. Killarney is one of the most picture-esque towns in Ireland, and is centrally-based in Kerry. There are some excellent hotels in Killarney that cater to the needs of golf groups. For example, golf bag and clubs storage comes as standard in most hotels in Killarney. Hotels may also offer discounted or complementary transfers to some of the courses.
If you choose to use Dingadeal for your group accommodation needs, you can specify that you are part of a golf group and hotels will let you know how they can help. Also, if you ask nicely, they may be able to throw in discounted green-fee rates – you never know!
Now, onto the golf courses. These are in no particular order. I’ve included one parkland course. The rest are links courses.
As the name suggests, this parkland course is a short drive from the town centre of Killarney, Ireland. The club consists of three parkland courses, and the flagship course is Killeen. Killeen hosted the Irish Open (a European Tour event) in 2011 and consistently ranks as one of the top parkland courses in Ireland. International golfers may want to come to Ireland to play links golf, but I recommend this parkland course due to the amazing location – the course is perched on the lakes of Killarney, and some of the views are breath-taking. Many holes run along the lake. The course is challenging, and is always in immaculate condition.
The Old Course at Ballybunion is probably the most famous golf course in Ireland, and the most popular with international visitors. Ballybunion is located in the north west of Kerry, and takes 1 hour, 20 minutes to get there from Killarney. It has a long list of famous visitors – Bill Clinton lists it as one of his top 3 courses. In the weeks leading up to a British Open, you can expect to see some PGA Tour players make the stop-off to get their links game in order. As with most of the top links courses in Ireland, expect to pay a premium to play this gem.
Waterville is tucked away on the ring of Kerry, and is another links on the Atlantic coastline. Approximately an hour’s drive from Killarney, the trip itself is worth it alone – you get to drive along the famous ring of Kerry and witness the amazing views. When you get to the course, one of the first things you’ll see is the tribute to Payne Stewart – a larger-than-life statue located next to the putting green. This is another course that has welcomed more than its fair share of professional golfers prior to the British Open. Tiger has played here. The golf is challenging, especially when the wind blows. Expect some amazing views, and the par 3s are of the highest calibre.
The golf links at Tralee is an Arnold Palmer-designed course. This is another links along the Atlantic ocean. It’s approximately 1 hour’s drive from Killarney. This is another serious test for golfers, especially when the wind is blowing in from the ocean. It’s a stunning setting, and once you’ve played it you’ll understand why Palmer is quoted as having said “I may have designed the first nine, but surely God designed the back nine”. The par 3 12th is one of the best holes in golf – a carry over a massive canyon, not for the faint-hearted!
Another stunning setting, this is arguably the most picture-esque of all the courses on this list. Views of Dingle Bay and McGillycuddy reeks are present on most holes on this links golf course. It’s only a 30 minute drive from Killarney. It’s a tough challenge too – bring a few extra golf balls! Interestingly, the origin of the word ‘Dooks’ comes from the Irish Douaghs meaning dunes.
I played this links for the first time last weekend and got a great deal on 36 holes in the same day. It doesn’t have the same prestige associated with the other courses on this list, and you may be disappointed when you first arrive, due to the fact that it’s a bit inland from the nearby Atlantic ocean. But once you step onto the first tee, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a hidden gem of a course, located in the western tip of Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula, about as far west in Ireland as you can go. It’s a good hour and a half drive from Killarney but if you have a day to spare on your golfing trip to Ireland, I’d highly recommend it. Again, some fantastic views of the bay, and the nearby “three sisters” mountain range. It’s not a long course but it’s a good test. The wind and driving rain that I experienced last weekend certainly showed up my golfing limitations!
I hope this list helps you organise your golf trip to Ireland. How would you rank these courses? If you think I’ve missed a course, please let me know in the comments!
I would like to thank Kevin Markham for allowing me to use some of his excellent photographs for this article, and I would highly recommend his book Hooked (links to purchase on the right hand side), which rates every 18-hole golf course in Ireland.
Aimed at those booking for 8 people or more, dingadeal.com will organise hotel accommodation for groups quickly, while helping the customer to get the best deal possible. This unique platform allows groups of hotel-seekers to communicate their requirements to hotels, who are then invited to tender for their custom. Dingadeal also takes the hassle away from the group organiser by enabling them to invoice each individual group member for their share of the bill as well as allowing them to submit rooming lists to hotels. Ultimately, Dingadeal simplifies the booking process for both hotels and groups.