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Top 100 Golf Courses of Ireland 2022

17 May, 2022
Jim McCann

Top 100 Courses of Ireland 2022

The Republic of Ireland is the latest country in our Britain & Ireland region to have its Top 100 chart reappraised and this is the ninth biennial revision of the listings for the nation’s twenty-six counties. We maintain separate standings for the six counties that comprise Northern Ireland but maybe one day we’ll get round to producing a combined Top 100 for the island.


The Old course at Ballybunion is still the national number 1, which is no real surprise considering it’s held the top spot since we started ranking courses in the Emerald Isle back in 2006. The club also invested in a major upgrade a few years ago which saw all the greens replaced by Atlantic Golf Construction with architect Graeme Webster overseeing the ambitious project.

Review comments of late include: “many reviewers have rightly proclaimed the merits of the 7th on. The first six deserve a little love… excellent course and fast and firm as a golf course should be… undoubtedly an excellent golfing experience… the question is whether the brilliance of 10 holes outweigh 2 good holes but six average holes in determining whether this is a ‘must play.’ The answer is yes.”

St Patrick’s

The narrative accompanying the last chart update two years ago mentioned how difficult it was to break into the Top 5 positions in Ireland – well, the new St Patricks links at Rosapenna has done just that, crashing into the listings at number 3. Designed by Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design, the new course has made an immediate impact on the golf scene in Ireland and it’s destined for even greater ranking success if some of the initial course reviews are anything to go by:

“When the course matures and the mowing lines are finalised, this course will be at the very top of everybody’s wish list… the layout is absolutely massive in scale but built in proportion to the terrain it occupies, with fairways twisting and turning, rising and falling in and out of the astonishing dunescape next to Tramore beach… one of those courses where you remember every hole after playing it once.”

Narin & Portnoo

Eyebrows must have been raised when it was announced a while back that Hanse Golf Course Design had been called in to remodel the 18-layout at Narin & Portnoo in Donegal. New owners were well aware of the property’s potential but they just needed the right people to realise what they had – step in Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner to reimagine a links layout that now shoots ten places up our chart to number 18.

Recent review posts include: “the Hanse product is absolutely sensational and it’s only getting better with time… N&P is the epitome of fun golf; tempting, teasing and entertaining in equal measure… this is a place you could spend so much time and never get bored… the recent makeover has elevated the layout quite a few notches… it just goes to show what you can do when you bring in the right golfing expertise.”

Cruit Island

The 9-hole layout at Cruit Island rises twelve spots to number 53. Situated in a remote part of County Donegal (though less than six kilometres from Donegal airport), the course has gained in popularity over the past few years, attaining almost a cult status for many who come primarily to play the big-ticket tracks in the northwest of the country. For sure, this place exudes as much charm as any of its better-known golfing cousins in the county.

“Credit to the designers and members of Cruit Island for creating and managing a golf course in such a beautiful and remote spot,” wrote a reviewer recently. Another said: “it is as raw and rugged a layout as you’ll ever find. If pristine conditions, pure greens and well-maintained bunkers are your thing you’ll rate Cruit a 2. If you appreciate golf in its purest form, you’ll rate Cruit a 6.”


The course at Macreddin in County Wicklow (up eleven to #61) was Paul McGinley’s first design, opening initially with nine holes in 2007. It’s the main sporting component of a leisure village located in the Macreddin Valley, with the beautiful Ballycreen Brook weaving its way through the property. Fairways follow the contours of a wooded valley in what is a delightful setting for golf.


Another County Wicklow course, the 18-hole layout at Woodenbridge, also makes an impressive upward move in the table as it rises twelve places to number 71. The club was established in 1884, operating with a 9-hole track until Paddy Merrigan doubled the number of holes in 1994. Situated in a deep valley of mature trees at the confluence of the rivers Aughrim and Avoca, the course is flat, open and relatively short therefore it’s an easy and enjoyable walk for all golfers.


Described by a recent reviewer as “an old-fashioned links that’s a very enjoyable walk,” the course at Dunfanaghy (up twenty-six to #74) is an old Harry Vardon design which has stood the test of time for more than a hundred years now. Most of the holes are laid out flat terrain but those in the rocky outcrop section between the 6th and 10th are alone worth paying the modest green fee to play them.


The Old course at Headfort in County Meath (up ten to #75) dates back to 1930, just after the club’s formation, when a 9-hole layout was brought into play. This initial track was then extended to eighteen holes in the mid-1950s and nothing much has changed since, apart from adding the New course on adjacent land to form a formidable 36-hole destination outside Kells.


Moyvalley in County Kildare (up fifteen to #80) is a championship-standard layout designed by Darren Clarke with Tim Lobb (when he was with European Golf Design). Host venue for the Irish PGA Championship in 2016 and 2017, this course is routed across part of the Balyna Estate to the west of Dublin and water comes into play occasionally, most notably at the closing hole on each nine.


Portarlingtonin County Offaly (new at #89) heads a group of seven newcomers at the foot of the new table. The club celebrated its centenary in 2008 and the course was expanded to its current 18-hole size by Eddie Hackett in the early 1990s. Tree-lined fairways are laid out on a tight, 110-acre property beside the River Barrow, where tee shots at both the 10th and 13th holes are played across the 18th fairway.

Making way for all the new entries, the following eight courses have dropped out: Balbriggan, Bantry Bay, Birr, Dundalk, Glasson, Knightsbrook, Naas and Shannon.

To view the complete detailed list of our new Top 100 Golf Courses of Ireland chart click the link.

View list here.


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