Ireland is perceived by many golfers as one of the top places in the world for enjoying an 18-hole round, with the island nation boasting no shortage of picturesque courses, especially those of the links variety. Within Ireland, Kerry is perhaps the most popular county for golfing holidays, given its superb selection of courses and the stunning scenery that illuminates the south-west of Ireland.
Thriving tourist destinations such as Killarney offer a host of magnificent golf courses to suit players of all skill levels, from the casual player primarily seeking enjoyment to the experienced, competitive golfer looking for new challenges to enhance their game. Our guide explains what it is about Kerry that makes it such a desired location for avid golfers.
Golf was introduced to Ireland by British rulers during the 19th century and the abundance of awe-inspiring landscape in Kerry and the south-west of the country made it the perfect location to establish what would become some of the finest links and parkland courses in Ireland. From links courses in Ballybunion, Dingle and Waterville to the outstanding parkland courses around Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, there is something to appeal to every golfer in this part of the world.
Each course offers a refreshing challenge to players and many golfers have remarked of how greatly they enjoyed being challenged to rethink their game. Plus, there are few places more beautiful than Ireland on a gloriously sunny day and, when the weather is fine, it makes for a fantastic golfing experience. Thankfully, the Irish climate is generally stable and temperate throughout the year, so you can enjoy a golf break in Kerry at any time.
When you’ve finished your round for the day, you can relax in one of the numerous fine restaurants throughout Kerry, with several hotels in Killarney offering exquisite dining options and friendly, atmospheric places to enjoy a drink. Even for those of a non-golfing persuasion accompanying their partners or friends on a golf holiday, there is a tremendous variety of activities and amenities to enjoy in towns such as Killarney. Kerry truly does have something for everyone!
Aerial drone footage of the golf course at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club.
Situated just a mile outside Killarney adjacent to The Europe Hotel & Resort, the club celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018 and includes three stunning courses – Killeen, Mahony’s Point and Lackabane.
Killeen (18 holes) has staged the Irish Open on several occasions, most recently in 2011, and provides fabulous lake views on the first four holes and concluding holes. On the famous par-3 hole 10, you’re virtually playing into the lake!
Mahony’s Point (18 holes) is famed for its 18th hole, known as Heaven’s Reflex and claimed to be the most photographed in the world of golf. With panoramic lake views to enjoy, and a stern challenge posed by the par-4 holes 2 and 3, it’s no wonder that golfers relish a chance to play this course.
Lackabane (9 holes) was reopened in 2016 after a substantial redesign and is a classic par-36 course which offers an ideal combination of manageable and strategically challenging holes.
This superb 18-hole parkland course, which opened in 1995, is located just 10 minutes outside Killarney on the Ring of Kerry road. The course was developed from natural terrain and caters to golfers of all standards, from the casual novice player to the seasoned professional. It is based in the shadow of Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s tallest mountain, and set among 200-year-old trees, 15th-century castle ruins and two placid lakes. Facilities include putting/practice greens, a pro shop and an atmospheric clubhouse.
Ross Golf Club
This is often cited as one of the best 9-hole golf courses in Ireland and is located amidst magnificent natural scenery, water and woodlands. This championship-standard course opens at 8am daily and operates until sunset, while its proximity to Killarney makes it reachable on foot from the town centre. An in-house golf professional offers expert tuition to anyone seeking tips on improving their game and a round at the course is hugely sought-after during the high golfing season.
This majestic course overlooks Kenmare, offering views of the bay from every hole, and is designed to challenge skilled golfers on the back tees while offering less experienced players an enjoyable front tee round. The course is considered of sufficiently high standard to host Irish and European professional events and boasts a unique mountainside architecture. Its greens, fairways and bunkers are superbly and consistently manicured.
This links course is designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer and provides stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean from its location in Barrow, where it opened in 1984 after being moved from Mounthawk almost 90 years after it was first established. The club currently has 1,300 members.
This stunning 18-hole links course has been endorsed by numerous world-famous golfers including Tiger Woods, Sam Snead, David Duval, Mark O’Meara and the late, great Payne Stewart. Originated in 1889, the course has been updated and redesigned on multiple occasions, most recently in the late 1980s and early 90s by renowned golf architect Tom Fazio.
The club celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018 and offers a memorable links golf experience on a stretch of sand dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Players can choose from either the original Old Course, which was namechecked by Tom Watson in his 1982 Open-winning acceptance speech, or the fiendishly challenging Cashen Course, which opened in 1984 and makes golfers truly earn their score!
The course is situated on the Dingle Peninsula along the Wild Atlantic Way, with Mount Brandon and the Blasket Islands providing a captivating backdrop at either side. All 18 holes are carved from natural landscape and course facilities include a pro shop, trollies (pull and battery-operated), locker rooms and a putting green.