Corballis Links - Dublin - Ireland

Corballis Links Golf Club,
Corballis Road,
Donabate,
County Dublin,
Ireland


  • +353 (0) 1 843 6583

First opened for public play in 1971, the links course at Donabate lies along the east coast of Ireland, next to a more well-known golfing neighbour, The Island. Owned by Fingal County Council, it’s a pay and play facility that’s maintained and operated by Carr Golf, who also manage Castleknock for the same local authority.

The course itself is over a hundred years old, with the original holes set out in 1906 by employees of nearby Portrane Hospital. This layout was expanded to a full 18-hole course after Donabate Golf Club was established in 1928 but the club relocated to its present location in 1939, leaving behind a group of golfers who preferred their golf to be of the links variety.

Corballis Golf Club was then founded and it functioned up until 1968, when land was acquired near Swords and the club reformed as Forrest Little Golf Club. Its old 86-acre site was sold for £95,000 to Dublin County Council in 1971, which saw the formation of Dublin & County Golf Club but it too moved away from Corballis to become near neighbours at what is now Balcarrick Golf Club.

The County Council redesigned the layout in 1979/80, removing some of the blind holes and the course was closed for two years as new tees and greens were introduced. Fingal County Council then took over ownership of the property in 1994 and ten years later, Corballis Links Golf Club was founded. Ron Kirby from Bates Golf Design Group was called in soon after to upgrade the layout.

Old holes 4, 13, 14 and 15 were lost, replaced by new ones along the coastline at holes 4 to 7, so that the course is now laid out with five short par fours, seven par threes and only one par five – with that rather unique configuration, it’s no surprise to learn that the course plays to its par of 66 over the short distance of 5,114 yards.

There’s still a fair smattering of old-fashioned golf design here amongst the dunes, with several narrow fairways crossing over each other and blind tee shots to be played, but there’s no denying either the quality of the greens on this track or the fabulous views out across the Irish Sea to nearby Lambay Island.

Highlight holes include the longest par four on the card at the right doglegged 3rd, where the fairway runs along a valley between dunes, the new par three 6th and its two-tiered green, the doglegged par five 12th, with out of bounds running along its right flank, and the par four 14th, which is played along the beach from tee to the green.
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Reviews for Corballis Links

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Description: First opened for public play in 1971, the Corballis Links Golf Club at Donabate lies along the east coast of Ireland, next to a more well-known golfing neighbour, The Island. Rating: 6.5 out of 10 Reviews: 13
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Stephen O'Reilly

A beautiful, windswept course, only a par-66, but the challenge is immense and the greens are among the best I've ever played, would recommend to anybody anywhere near the region looking for a reasonably priced experience

August 04, 2022
8 / 10
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Warren

What a little beauty! Crazily good first 7 holes, reminding me of Perranporth. Local knowledge certainly helps, especially at the bizarre 2nd. Next time 9 iron then wedge rather than 4 iron then chip up mountain! Mostly a tight little course. Often when you play par 66s with slopes less than 113 you think it’ll be mickey mouse golf but you most definitely need to play well here to play to handicap. Slight misses to the short early par 3s means a struggle to get par. Just great fun. Some of the par 4s in this section could fit into any great course.

Runs out of steam at 8/ 9 and 15/16 but a couple of interesting holes amongst the back 9. Good 18th. The greens were between good and perfect. The couple of greens that had been cut and rolled, well they were excellent. Barely needed driver during the round. 8th, 15, 16, 18 only. I played from the medal tees so a few forward tees may not require it, especially 18th.

Looking at the divot marks in collection points on fairways and the unrepaired pitch marks on the green, this course gets a lot of traffic which means some aspects of presentation aren’t perfect. Pure links golf, except for holes 8 & 9. Greens a little softer than the other links courses I have recently played. Balls get a bit dirty but no ball washers. But for 20 euros who cares!

If you have 3 hours spare between the big Dublin links courses do yourself a favour and have a hit here.

July 24, 2022
6 / 10
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T P Dean

In this age of Instagram drone shots taken during the mega-light and absurd golf course rankings across gazillions of different publications, it’s a rare thing for a golf course to stay under the radar. Yet this council owned public course in Donabate has achieved just that. What’s even more remarkable is that it goes unnoticed despite the fact that it sits amongst the same dunes as the €180 green fee course next door. Yet Corballis can be played for just a sixth of that price. Now, I’m not going to get carried away with myself and stretch as far as to say that Corballis is anything like the quality of its distinguished neighbour, but I’d guess there are a handful of holes at Corballis that might just be considered the equal of those at The Island, and I’d suggest this makes it at the very least worth hauling a half-set around for a second eighteen of the day.

Located within half an hour of central Dublin, Corballis is a surprisingly well conditioned and entertaining links course. I’d suggest it lacks notoriety outside of this neighbourhood partly because it’s only a par 66. Its 5,100 yards is never going to stretch the scratch golfer, but I doubt I’ve played a better wee course than this sporty links. The driver is best left in the bag for the majority of holes. Instead, thinking your way around this fun and quirky course with the odd mid-iron played from the tee will have you enjoying your round to its full potential whilst also giving you the greatest likelihood of a good score to par.

The standout stretch at Corballis is undoubtedly from holes 3 through 7. The 3rd being a wonderful links hole that asks you to bite as much as you can off this dogleg by taking an angled drive over the tall dune to a wonderfully turbulent fairway. The quality of the fairway is then matched by a slippery green that’s shaped like a lightbulb. A charmer of a par three comes next before a picture-perfect short par four immediately follows. The 5th is channeled through a duned valley to a raised and strongly tiered green. A peach of a short, dropshot wedge hole greets the golfer at 6 where this green is surrounded by some deep and gnarly pot bunkers. The baffling and wobbly par four at 7 completes this strong quintet of golf holes. A measured tee shot on this hole is needed to set up a leisurely lob to a plateau green from a fairway that’s adorned with humpity lumps.

To be expected for a price tag such as this, there is some mediocre fodder along the way too. The 8th and 9th are examples of this, probably the weakest part of the course, and an unfortunate departure from those stellar early holes. An ugly fence borders a caravan park that appears in plain sight along these two holes and where the land can only be described as more standard fare, and to be fair to the designer, was always going to be more challenging land from which to carve great golf. Whilst the course probably doesn’t ever quite reach the same heights as that early stretch again, the wacky climbing 11th and perched par three 13th meant that the back nine still offered several highlights through more splendid duneland. It could be argued that the most memorable hole on the back nine is the 14th that plays parallel to the Donabate beach. It's a hole where the fairway and green are separated by scrubby wasteland meaning restraint and thought is required in equal measure, and another example of a hole that adds distance to its mere yardage on the card.

There is the slightest hint of the course losing its momentum towards the end of the round, but features such as the wonderful green complex at 17 with its uncomfortably bisected, multi-level green are enough to maintain the interest of any course architecture enthusiasts that should walk these closing holes.

The wider Dublin region is hardly bereft of good golf so it would be easy to bypass a course such as Corballis, but if you’re fond of seeking out a local gem, I’d strongly recommend it. It’s the perfect antidote to the grand championship links tests over at Portmarnock and The Island and offers a pleasant departure from those tour-bus trails.

July 21, 2022
5 / 10
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Maarten

A well-deserved rise on the latest rankings for charming Corballis. Very quirky, lovely green sites of high quality and architectural interest, rolling very true and a good few cracking links holes with views rivalling many great links. Not all holes in the dunes allow for ground game though. Keep an open mindset and expect to hit short irons off the tee on blind par 4s and to see the most scenic, as well as the ugliest of parkland golf holes next to a trailer park and high fences as a backdrop.

MO

June 18, 2022
5 / 10
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Mariano Martinez de Azagra

Corballis was a very nice surprise on our last trip to Ireland. I must reckon that I had already played this course in 2008, but the changes made since then have taken it to another level.

Besides, when I visited, last September, the care of the course was excellent, the greens were true and the fairways run fast.

As for the course, it is unquestionable that the best holes are the first 7, adjacent to the sea and nestled between big dunes, some of which would not be out of place in any of its most illustrious neighbors (the Island, Portmarnock, etc.)

The first hole is a par 3 (something that is not an issue for me), followed by a par 4 where knowledge of the terrain is essential. That's where the best stretch begins, starting with the 3th, a monster of par 4, stretch that includes two delicious shorts par 3s, 4th and 6th.

Likewise, holes 5th and 7th, two short par 4s, demand respect and a good strategy from the tee, since they can severely punish those who underestimate them.

From there we find some more mundane holes, although the course regains energy with holes 11th, 12th and 13th, this one, again, a beautiful par 3 to an elevated tee.

Among the last holes we find some interesting golf, but one cannot avoid the feeling that they are a little boxed in.

In any case, I would recommend this course for anyone traveling to Dublin, especially to loosen up muscles after a long trip or for an informal round. Corballis is pure fun, and at an unbeatable price (I challenge anyone who can find a better value for money for 25 euros a round in all Ireland).

M. Mnez. de Azagra, Spain.

October 11, 2021
7 / 10
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Philip Gill

I am a member at corballis. It might be a hidden gem for overseas visitors but for locals its unlikely that you have not played the course as it is public and it is super affordable when compared to other links courses in the country.

The course is short. There are 7 par 3s and just 1 par 5 which add up to a par 66. You will be asked to play target golf, there is not alot of room or call to play ground golf here, nor is there a need to play your driver off the tee bar 3 holes. The greens are immaculate, for the money you pay the quality of the putting surfaces are up there with the best in the country

Standout holes.

3rd - Monster par 4 which more often than not plays into the prevailing wind. Tee shot is a thread the eye of a needle job if you want to make par. The approach shot is something similar. Bogey is a great score

4th & 6th a beautiful flick of a wedge of a pair of par threes with the irish sea in the back ground. Miss the green and you are making bogey at best

5 and 7 demand pin point accuracy with an iron of the tee followed by a similar demand on what should be a wedge to a perched green.

11 is the quirky hole, driveable par 4, still not sure if I love or hate this hole.

18 is great finishing hole, easy tee shot but a pesky approach shot. So hard to get it right

If you are in the area and have a few hours to play, perhaps as a tune up for one of the more illustrious links in the neighbourhood - even if its just 12 holes which will loop you nicely back to the clubhouse. It is well worth your time and will cost you the price of club sandwich and a pint of guinness

September 01, 2021
8 / 10
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Alan Hickey

With a bit more space and cash this would in the top ten in the country. Its has the makings of a world class links but not quite there. There are 3 mickey mouse holes and suffer do to lack of space on the property and all in all the course coukd do with more attention and care. No better example of a diamond in the rough on the island. And at €30 per round the best bang for buck I can recommend

September 16, 2020
8 / 10
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BB

If truth be told I only played Corballis because a good mate was a member there and he bullied me into it. I was on a rare weekend escape and my preference was to fritter away my hard earned euros at one of the impressively expensive shamrock-bait tracks that are so adept at taking a golfing tourist’s cash. I would then impress all my American golfing colleagues who think they’re Irish.

Corballis may not impress them Corballis Links Golf Course - Photo by reviewer much, but it did hit some sweet spots for me. Firstly, it’s proper links golf (which always earns bonus points). Box ticked. Secondly, it’s rife with blind shots, elevation changes, coastal views, and no small challenge with its narrow fairways, uneven lies, and dangerous rough. Not all links have all this. A few more boxes ticked. Furthermore, it’s not too long (admittedly due to a small property) and was inexpensive (it was tempting to ask the Pro if I could pay 2-3 times more so that I could feel comfortable in the knowledge I was getting a premium golf experience). So more boxes ticked. Finally, the greens ran incredibly true. For a quick & dirty municipal, this was a pleasant surprise. Highlights included the run of holes from 3 to 7 which explored some of the prime real estate, and several of the Par 3’s - holes such as 6 & 13 are simply excellent. Also a couple of Par 4’s on the back 9 stick in my mind.

Of course not everything is fabulous at Corballis and there is a reason why it’s currently ranked 97th in Ireland. Corballis Links Golf Course - Photo by reviewer Holes 8 & particularly 9 were low points and out of kilter with what had gone before. The out and back 15 & 16 also felt tagged on (I think that’s because they were in fact, tagged on). This leaves in my mind 14 worthy holes to enjoy. Occasionally 1 or 2 of these (on the inland side) feel hemmed in by an occasional unsightly boundary fence, with these limitations being due to the size of the property. Others may call for more fairway bunkering (not me though). The Island next door had clearly eaten up the lions share of better links land, but some tasty leftovers remained. It all makes me think that Corballis could have been a world class 9 holer. Or it could get a Tom Watson quote and then market itself as the best 13 hole course in Ireland.

I would recommend pairing Corballis up with The Island for a great day of golf, and playing Corballis first. For many visitors, it may offer a great first taste of Links golf in a humble inclusive setting. And if you’ve just crawled off of a long transatlantic flight, why waste an expensive green fee at a more famous track when you’re Corballis Links Golf Course - Photo by reviewer still half asleep? I actually did something similar with a group a few years ago when playing Braid Hills in Edinburgh, before heading out to East Lothian. We were exhausted after our flight from Amsterdam and it worked a treat. And when I visit the Monterey Peninsula, despite life being short, I will also play Pacific Grove. This feels like some kind of Golfing Scouting Code.

Back to Donabate: We visited Corballis the day before (or after) playing Killeen Castle. One is a Jack Nicklaus championship test that has hosted the Solheim Cup. And the other is quite simply a fun, memorable & good value experience (that I’d rather play). Don’t discount golf at Corballis just because Corballis is discounted golf. I do still wish my mate would join Portmarnock though

December 18, 2019
6 / 10
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Ed Battye

Corballis Links is a real head-spinner of a golf course around a 30 minute drive north of Dublin.

I make no apology for absolutely loving golf courses like Corballis. It is small in stature but packs an amazing amount of mind-blowing golf into its par 66, 4,624-metre layout which is played over a wild landscape and where fun abounds.

Another beauty of this municipal course is that at a paltry €20 it is a fantastic golf trip budget “averager”. In my opinion any golf itinerary to Dublin should include Corballis but not just for the dollar it saves you but for the quality, quirk and at times jaw-dropping golf it serves up.

For those well travelled, it has similar attributes to Perranporth in Cornwall and the middle section of the links at Strandhill on the west coast of Ireland. We can spy tops of flags fluttering on the summit of dunes and marker posts dotted all over the heaving linksland. The bamboozling nature of Corballis is remarkable.

There is a lawlessness to some of the opening holes. At times they may just be a touch unfair, occasionally unsafe but most certainly unique and unorthodox. This begins at the short opener where we must fire across the 12th fairway to a large, raised plateau green.

There is undoubtedly a game of smoke and mirrors going on through the first seven holes at Corballis.

There is also a wonderful collection of short holes here and we enjoy three of them in the opening third of the round. The 1st hole is nothing too special but the 4th and the 6th in particular are little worldies. Both are played downhill to raised green complexes set among the dunes with predominantly crowned putting surfaces. They just fit the landscape so well and are prime examples that length is not always required to produce a taxing and quality golf hole.

The final short hole on the front side is the ninth which doesn’t have the same appeal and looks completely out of place with the rest of the course, played over a large pond, to a flat green of modern design. The other issue with this hole is that it precedes another short hole, which is better but still average at best, and it comes in the middle of a run of holes between 8 and 10 which is a very weak stretch of the course; the ninth is the low point.

However, we can easily forgive Corballis this momentary lull because it recovers well and if it doesn’t quite reach the highs of the first seven holes there is plenty of interesting golf yet to play.

There is one last fling with absurdity at Corballis and that is the 17th green. An insane par-three played to a wild, semi-volcanic putting surface with two-tiers but played to side on. It is as if the designer wanted to create a wild, controversial green, a bit nutty, which would already have been fiendish to play to but then he has moved the tee 90-degrees and we now play to it from an outrageous angle…. but it kind of works! It’s the sort of fascinating hole where you’d just love to drop a basket of balls and play it a hundred times with different types of shots and clubs in various winds.

Today, Corballis provides a marvellous mish-mash of golf holes, some real head-scratchers and I felt guilty only paying €20 for a round here.

There are some things many golfers will not like. It is cramped (the protective netting we see a few times is an eyesore) and there are several occasions when you may not get what you feel you deserve. A lot of guesswork is required to get around the course but nice surprises often lie in store.

However, if you enjoy playing golf courses that push the boundaries of quirk whilst still retaining real quality then you will fall in love with Corballis. There is no arguments from me that at times it comes perilously close to crossing the line but I would rather have it that way than have my golf served up mundane and predictable.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

November 29, 2019
6 / 10
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Matthew

Corballis is a gem hidden away between the Island and Balcarrick golf clubs and is an absolute pleasure to play!! Every hole needs to be approached with a strategy or you will find yourself in deep deep trouble!! Play like a typical links course with blind tee shots drivable par 4’s (if you dare) and fast undulating greens which require accuracy or you could end up with a 3 or even 4 putt!! The par 3’s on this course are particularly special with elevated tees, attackable greens and heartbreaking rough should you veer off even slightly. Will most definitely be back to test myself here again

September 28, 2019
9 / 10
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