Royal County DownThe heroes of Irish golf are set to be welcomed home in style after Darren Clarke’s win at the Open. The Irish Open will head to Killarney Golf and Fishing Club and all four Irish major winners from the last 4 years are in the field. Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke now have 6 major championships between them after the Opens, both British and US, were won recently by Rory and Darren. Their presence is set to attract a hero’s welcome and the setting for the tournament is as dramatic as the golf promises to be. Killarney Golf and Fishing Club is set in stunning Irish countryside and boasts three championship golf courses. Why not watch the action at the Irish Open live between playing some of the very best golf courses in Europe. Here are ten of the best Irish golf break destinations for you to visit over the August bank holiday weekend.

Killarney

Killarney Golf

Killarney Golf and Fishing Club may be one of the most beautiful places in the world to play golf. In contrast to the rugged charms of Ireland’s countless seaside courses, Killarney is a tranquil oasis set on the banks of the lakes.

The Killeen Course is the most established at the club and has hosted both LPGA and European Tour events in the past. This course is set to host the Irish Open.

Mahoney’s Point is the shortest course at Killarney but by no means the easiest. A stunning collection of holes culminates with a closing stretch that will rival anything you have experienced to date. The long par 3 18th will require a solid tee shot in order to save par and sign off with a good score.

The Donald Steel designed Lackabane Course is the latest addition to Killarney’s golfing portfolio. This gorgeous parkland layout will be sure to test the long game of even the best ball strikers and completes a stunning trio of golf courses surrounded by the stunning Killarney countryside.



DoonbegDoonbeg

Like many of Greg Norman’s courses around the world, Doonbeg is absolutely mind blowing. Any avid golfer would kill for a round on this stunning links course that serves up world class hole after world class hole. The Shark has used the natural dunes to great effect and the sea can be seen from 16 of the 18 holes. Look out for the 14th and 15th holes which are sure to live long in the memory. Doonbeg is simply a must on any golf tour of Ireland.



Druids GlenDruids Glen

Druids Glen is one of Dublin’s premier golf clubs and boasts not one but two stunning championship golf courses as well as a five star hotel that is set in the Wicklow countryside, just south of Dublin city.

The Druids Glen Course is often referred to as the Augusta of Ireland and it is easy to see why when the flowers are in bloom. The signature hole is the par 3 12th where players play from a raised tee over a giant flower bed that has been planted to resemble a Celtic cross.

The Druids Heath Course is the perfect support act to the main attraction. A great variety of holes are stretched over a mixture of heathland, parkland and links to create a very dynamic golf course that requires constant concentration and a variety of strategies.

The location of this stunning golf resort is perfect for a golf break in Ireland as the ample facilities on offer are closely situated to Dublin which is one of the most lively cities in Europe.



Ballybunion 2Ballybunion

The links land at Ballybunion is home to two tremendous golf courses, and the rugged seaside land and undulating fairways are surely among the most iconic images in world golf. Five-time Open Championship winner Tom Watson is perhaps the most famous to endorse Ballybunion’s quality: “I am now of the opinion this is one of the best and most beautiful tests of links anywhere in the world.” High praise indeed!

The Old Course is the main attraction and at just 6,500 yards long is not the longest by modern standards. However on a course where accuracy is paramount length is not the main concern. Golfers will have to do battle with the weather that rolls in from the Atlantic Ocean and the mind boggling natural undulations that make this traditional links so charming.

The Cashen Course plays second fiddle to the famous Old Course but by no means is it a sub standard golf course. This course features the same natural feel as the Old Course and completes a seriously impressive portfolio at Ballybunion…a must for any golfing aficionado.



K Club

K Club

The K Club was already a famous name in golf but in 2006 it shot to the forefront of the game as it hosted the Ryder Cup. The Palmer Course was the course of choice and the European team romped to an emotional victory as Darren Clarke won all of his matches in his first appearance following the death of his wife. Accuracy and distance are key assets around this course that is regularly referred to as the toughest inland test in the country.

The Smurfit Course is often described as an inland links course due to its more rugged qualities. Yellow heather and sweeping undulations define what is the perfect understudy to the famous Palmer Course.

The golf is not the only reason to visit the K Club.  The outstanding accommodation provides travelling golfers with a true five star experience from start to finish.



Royal PortrushRoyal Portrush

Following Darren Clarke’s triumph at Royal St Georges, Portrush has been in the headlines as a possible future Open venue. The quality of the golf course has never been in question and if the infrastructure were to improve it would be a very fitting fixture on the Open rota. In fact this legendary links is the only course outside of England and Scotland to have previously hosted the great championship and is a constant feature on lists of the world’s best golf courses.

With other famous golf courses including Royal Country Down and Portstewart within driving distance, Portrush is a must on any golf tour of Ireland.



Royal County DownRoyal County Down

Set against the backdrop of the spellbinding Mountains of Mourne, the links land at Royal County Down seems heaven sent for golf, and there are few more incredible places to enjoy a game.

The Championship Course is widely regarded as the second best golf course on the planet and it is ably supported by the Annesley Course which is more manageable for golfers of limited experience.

Perhaps the finest ever exponent of links golf, Tom Watson, is a real fan of Royal County Down and said, “It is a tremendous test of golf and the outward half especially is as fine a nine holes as I have ever played.”



PortmarnockPortmarnock

Bernhard Langer was blessed with a truly remarkable piece of land with which to create his traditional Irish links and he certainly did it justice. While it may be part of a golf resort, the layout is a genuine links, and with its proximity to Dublin, it is a fantastic place for a golf break.

Golfers visiting this fantastic golf course are treated to luxurious accommodation in the hotel and its location just north of Dublin makes access to the lively Irish Capital and other top golf courses quick and convenient. A great destination for an Irish golf break or as a stop off on a golf tour of the Emerald Isle.



Carton HouseCarton House

Carton House has emerged in recent years as one of the most exquisite golfing destinations in Ireland and beyond, as a result of two terrific, well-maintained courses, and an unrivalled level of service.

The Montgomerie Course was inspired by the great Scot’s favourite courses from across the globe and the quality of the course has been rewarded with the hosting of European Tour events in 2005 and 2006. Strategic bunkering provides the main defence to this course and as such a variety of shots and sound course management are called for.

The O’Meara Course may not have the same glittering reputation as the Montgomerie but it is none the less a stunning support act. Skirting the banks of the River Rye, which come into play on the back nine, this is a lush parkland test, set in a truly idyllic scene.



Lough Erne

Lough Erne

Lough Erne is the most exciting new golf destination in Ireland, endorsed by Rory McIlroy and set to establish itself as one of Europe’s ‘must play’ destinations. The lakes of County Fermanagh set an unrivalled natural scene for a unique property, with golf, leisure and accommodation of the highest order.

The Faldo Championship Course opened for play in 2009 and is the six time major winner’s first design in Ireland. Carved through mature woodland this stunning course opens out with many holes running along the shores of the Fermanagh Lakes. The fairways are composed of firm links like turf and the overall condition of the course is spectacular all year round. A mixture of daunting but beautiful par 3s and fantastic driving holes make the Faldo Championship Course a delight to play and the recently crowned US Open Champion Rory McIlroy endorses the course; a testament to the quality of Faldo’s design.