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Best Hidden Gem Golf Courses in Ireland

With Ireland so rife with top quality golf courses across the country such as Ballybunion Old, Old Head Golf Links, Portmarnock Golf Club, Waterville, Doonbeg Golf Links & The European to name but a few hidden gems are gold when it comes to playing golf here. Such hidden gems are very rewarding once found for a number of reasons.

What makes a course a hidden gem?

In our eyes, what makes a hidden gem is a golf course that is an unforgettable golf experience, which is also great value for money and has some of the best scenery of any golf course anywhere.

With such a selection of fantastic golfing breaks in Ireland and no shortage of pedigree either with Open Championship, European Tour and Ryder Cup Venues, Ireland having secured the 2026 Ryder Cup at Adare Manor, what are you waiting for?

We would like to share with you some of our favourite selections.

Best Hidden Gem Golf Courses in Ireland

Tralee Golf Club

Best Hidden Gem Golf Course's in Ireland

Tralee Golf Club

Course Design | Arnold Palmer

Founded | 1896

Course Type | Links

Par | 72

The great golf course creation is by nine other than the great Arnold Palmer, it is a true classic and when approaching the Tralee Golf Club project Palmer was heard to have said: "I have never come across a piece of land so ideally suited for the building of a golf course". With that, he did build a fantastic course of two halves.

The front nine of the course is relatively speaking flat with all of the holes hugging the coastline with elevated tee making the spectacular views breathtaking, particularly across the cliffs to Tralee bay and beyond.

[su_quote]I designed the first nine but surely God designed the back nine.[/su_quote]

Arnold Palmer

The back nine plays up through the mountainous dunes and across ravines to tight plateau greens. Hit the right shot no problem, the wrong club and choice of shot, and the golf course will make you pay dearly for it.

The Island

Best Hidden Gem Golf Course's in Ireland

The Island GC

Course Design | Fred Hawtree & Eddie Hackett

Founded | 1890

Course Type | Links

Par | 71 

The Island opened for play in 1890 and is one of Ireland's best private member's clubs, and a great reason to be a hidden gem amongst them. The original Founder members were known as the syndicate and controlled the memberships and kept things incredibly exclusive in the initial opening days. It was not until 1952 once founder members had passed down membership to next of kins that there was a decision to pass over the entire operation to the annual season ticket holders and the Island relaxed measures and opened its doors to an increased number of players. And now in modern-day times, you can get a green fee on the Island.

Although much was not know about the originality of the design, although work was carried out in the 1970's by Fred Hawtree (designer of Fontainbleau, & re-design of Royal Birkdale to name a few) and Eddie Hackett (Dingle & Dooks amongst his designs).

The Island is highly recommended when next you are Touring around the East Coast of Ireland.

Dooks Golf Club

Best Hidden Gem Golf Course's in Ireland

Dooks Golf Links

Course Design | Fred Hawtree

Founded | 1889

Course Type | Links

Par | 71 

Dooks golf course first opened its doors way back in 1889 making it one of Ireland's oldest operational golf courses. The golf course is located on a fantastic piece of the panoramic corner of land at Dingle bay. The views here are just spectacular taking in the McGillicuddy Reeks in the East and the Dingle Mountain and Slieve Mish to the North.

The golf course is spread across three separate sand dunes at the head of Dingle Bay. The front nine are for those golfers who are accurate as many og the holes will punish you otherwise. A hole of note would be the par 4 7th , at only 150 yards seems like a short pars 3 rather than a par 4, however with the wind blowing back into your face reaching the amphitheatre of a green in two will be a master stroke.

Dooks is an unsung, cost-effective little gem of a course that if you miss playing it when on the area you will need to kick yourself.... twice at least.

Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links

Best Hidden Gem Golf Course's in Ireland

Portmarnock Golf Links GC

Course Design | Bernhard Langer

Founded | 1996

Course Type | Links

Par | 71 

Portmarnock Golf links not to be confused with Portmarnock Golf Club is a wonderful golf course overlooking a fantastic stretch of Portmarnock Beach. designed by Bernhard Langer with the assistance of Stan Eby.

The golf course makes full use of the natural terrain incorporating the fine dunes and heavy gorse, the design of the links course will satisfy even the purest of links aficionados. The tee boxes are generally elevated and give you a grand old view of the holes ahead but with blind approach shots and a number of dogleg holes, the course differs somewhat from a most associate with Irish Links golf.

The Course has over 98 bunkers spread over the 18 holes and for such a new golf course is somewhat understated. The course is a great test of golf to the purists and read each hole as you see it on-the-day as the wind and weather decide what the par the holes will be.

A great test of golf at a great price too, and if you so wish why not stay at the hotel, have a drink in the famous Jameson Bar, and pretend that you played at the noisy neighbour next door.

Ballybunion Cashen Golf Course

Best Hidden Gem Golf Course's in Ireland

Ballybunion Cashen

Course Design | Robert Trent Jones Snr.

Founded | 1980

Course Type | Links

Par | 72

Whenever you mention the word Ballybunion it is always associated with the Old original golf course, and so rightly it should, however, there is an unsung gem sitting right on the doorstep that leaves little to the imagination when it comes to quality golf links courses.

The course sits, on the same piece of links land as its sister. When designing the course Trent Jones Snr. was quoted as saying " This is the finest piece of Linksland I have seen anywhere in the world." So the bar was set high when he already had all of the ingredients to make a golf course of note.

With the natural layout of the terrain building a course here was no men feat but with the sand dunes, natural grasses to contend with, bit overall a classic was born and each and every hole here is different, has its own characteristics and is a test to the very best of golfers.

Should you turn up at Ballybunion and expect to get onto the Old Course, and just for some reason or other, you were unable to. If you then had to play the Cashen Course, after your round you can swap stories with the Members who will tell you that you Did Not miss out, and in fact, many prefer the Cashen to the Old.

Read about some of the great golf courses you can play on your next golf tour in Ireland here.

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