The southwest of Ireland offers some of the finest golf courses in the world and your Dingle accommodation gets you within a good three wood of most. Due to the popularity of golf in Ireland we recommend pre booking tee times. Note however that sometimes calling the day of play or before can you get open times. Some courses offer club rental and caddie hire. Very few offer electric buggies. Here are the courses withing a drive from Dingle.
Designer: Hackett, O' Connor Jr.
Drive time from Dingle: 25 min
Located on the Dingle Peninsula, Ceann Sibeal, or Dingle Golf Club as it's also known, is the most westerly golf course in Ireland and for that matter, Europe. The course is certainly the best kept golfing secret in Kerry but at 6,690 yards in length, Ceann Sibeal is one of Ireland's truly traditional championship links courses and is a real test of golf. If Christy O' Connor Jr. was misguided in commenting "This course has everything that St. Andrews has to offer and more", then it wasn't by much. Every hole on the magnificent links at Ceann Sibeal has been carved from the natural landscape of one of the most remote and unspoiled parts of Ireland. The hand of Mother Nature laid down its many hazards, including a winding burn that twists and turns throughout the entire course, long before the game of golf was even dreamt of. The course is characterized by tricky undulations and swales, the very building blocks of pure links golf. Known as the St. Andrews of the Irish southwest, the mystical qualities of Ceann Sibeal will ensure that any round played here, will be a memorable experience. During the course of your round, the whole panorama of the Dingle Peninsula is revealed hidden bays with small fishing villages, glorious rolling mountains and the rugged Blasket Islands out in the wild Atlantic Ocean. The Ballyferriter and Dingle area is rich in Gaelic tradition with the Irish language still very much a part of everyday life, while the region is also blessed with ancient archaeological treasures, wild flora and fauna and a rich tradition of arts and crafts.
Designer: Mother Nature, Tom Watson
Drive time from Dingle: 1 hr. 30 mins
The very name Ballybunion Golf Club, strikes a chord with golfing enthusiasts around the globe. Rated one of the ten best golf courses in the world, standing on the first tee at Ballybunion is every bit as awe inspiring as one could imagine in many respects, it's like standing on the first at the Old Course in St. Andrews. This is an experience long since yearned for don't duff it, don't slice it, don't hook it and whatever you do, don't put it into the graveyard! On August 19th 1893, both the Limerick Chronicle and Kerry Sentinel (in its gossip column of all places) carried news of the opening meeting of Ballybunion Golf Club. The club though was not yet financially equipped to survive and there followed an eight year period of golfing oblivion, which lasted until the formation of the present Ballybunion Golf Club in 1906. As time passed, the reputation of Ballybunion as a golf course grew steadily and it hosted many major domestic championships. The year 1971 triggered the start of a new era for the club when acclaimed golf writer Herbert Warren Wind wrote an article ranking Ballybunion as one of the best ten courses in the world. Things were never quite the same again as visiting golfers came in their hordes to experience the magnificent Kerry links. Among the many visitors was Tom Watson, Ballybunion's favorite adopted son, while over the years the many who have made the pilgrimage include Byron Nelson, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Peter Alliss, Ken Venturi and one Bill Clinton, to name but a few. The Old Course at Ballybunion is a true seaside links, virtually treeless with a distinct lack of man-made influences. There is certainly a wild look to the course, making it appear intimidating, yet the truth is that the course is eminently fair. The contours on the fairways and greens are what make Ballybunion a great golf course. The golfer is required to play accurate approach shots to the greens, usually to a small target with not a lot of space to miss left or right. Considering the profound influence that Ballybunion has made on Tom Watson, it is perhaps fitting to end with his thoughts "It's a course you will always enjoy and never tire of playing...In short, Ballybunion is a course on which many golf architects should live and play before they build a golf course. I consider it a true test of golf."
Founded: 1983 (present location)
Designer: Arnold Palmer
Drive time from Dingle: 1 hr. 15 mins
Representing the first European design of Arnold Palmer, Tralee Golf Club in south western Ireland is one of the most spectacularly beautiful golf courses you will ever encounter. And while beauty often masks certain deficiencies in a golf course, that is certainly not the case with Tralee. Having completed his masterpiece, Palmer commented: "I have never come across a piece of land so ideally suited for the building of a golf course. I am happy that we have one of the world's great links here". While it always boasted a magnificent setting, with the course settling down and the greens thriving over time, Tralee has now joined the elite group of Irish links. With views of the Atlantic and white sandy beaches from almost every hole, Tralee earns rave reviews from all who play it. Renowned golf writer Peter Dobereiner aptly summed up the experience of playing here, commenting: "As a spectacle, Tralee is in a different class...the setting is quite the most magnificent backdrop for a golf course I have ever encountered. It thus passes with distinction my first test of a course, which is that it should be an exhilarating place to walk around regardless of how well or badly you may be playing." Tralee is one of those courses where it is difficult to concentrate on your game due to the breathtaking nature of the scenery but you will nevertheless note that the course offers countless superb holes. Best on the front nine include the doglegging par five 2nd hole, which measures over 590 yards from the championship tees and plays directly along the Atlantic Ocean to the right; the demanding par three 3rd hole, which requires a tee shot struck almost over the beach to a green guarded left and right by bunkers; and the relatively short par four 8th hole, which again requires a brave tee shot skirting with a watery grave on the left and requiring a pinpoint approach to a target sloping wickedly from right to left. Brace yourself for one of the finest homeward stretches in golf. Each hole from the 10th to the 18th provides an unforgettable experience. When playing your second shot to the 12th green, you will quickly realize why it's rated the most difficult on the course. Assuming you have hit a good drive, a huge depression from which there is no escape lurks to the left, while there is literally nowhere to land your ball other than on the green. The short par three 13th over what is best described as "trouble" is all about trusting your club selection, while the longer par three 16th requires a well struck mid to long iron from an elevated tee to a green cleverly protected by bunkers and perched directly beside the Atlantic Ocean.
Designer: O'Sullivan, Hackett
Drive time from Dingle: 1 hr. 15 mins
Situated in area known as "Heaven's Reflex", due to its outstanding beauty, Killeen Course however that is perceived to be the jewel in the Killarney golfing crown. Nestled amidst the splendor of the Lakes of Killarney in the shadow of the majestic Macgillycuddy's Reeks mountain range, the Killeen Course is consistently rated amongst the world's top courses and has hosted many major championships including the 1991 & 1992 Irish Open Golf Championship, won on both occasions by Nick Faldo; and also the 1996 Curtis Cup. While golf has been played in Killarney since 1891 (originally on a nine hole layout known as the Deer Park), the first 18 hole golf course at Killarney, which was designed by Sir Guy Campbell and Henry Longhurst, did not open for play until October 1939. Essentially this design comprises most of today's Mahoney’s Point course, while the Killeen Course, designed by Billy O'Sullivan and renowned Irish course architect Eddie Hackett, opened in 1971. The merits of the original design at Killarney were quickly recognized by the Golfing Union of Ireland and in 1949; the Irish Amateur Championship was played here for the first time. The first of two of two professional events played over the original course was won by Eric Browne and is also remembered as the first tournament appearance outside of South Africa by Gary Player, who despite his failure to make the cut, rated the 8th hole (now the 13th on the Killeen Course) as "potentially one of the world's greatest inland golf holes". The challenge and setting of this golf courses have inspired many comments, including that by Henry Longhurst who indicated that "only a man devoid of a soul could apply his mind to playing golf at Killarney", Among the finest holes on the Killeen Course are the par three's at holes 3 and 6 and also the closing two holes, particularly the 18th, which requires a drive from a raised tee and an approach over water to the green.
Designer: Longhurst, Campbell
Drive time from Dingle: 1 hr. 15 mins
Situated in area known as "Heaven's Reflex", due to its outstanding beauty, Killarney Golf Club comprises three top class parkland layouts the Killeen Course, Mahoney’s Point and most recently, Lacabane. While golf has been played in Killarney since 1891 (originally on a nine hole layout known as the Deer Park), the first 18 hole golf course at Killarney, which was designed by Sir Guy Campbell and Henry Longhurst, did not open for play until October 1939. Essentially this design comprises most of today's Mahoney’s Point course. After the rough and tumble challenge of south western Ireland's great links courses, Killarney provides a somewhat welcome respite, though not necessarily an easier option. Superb holes abound. One of the most memorable holes at Mahoney’s Point is the par five 13th, which though of modest length, requires an excellent tee shot in order to attempt to make the well protected green in two strokes. The closing holes here are among the finest anywhere, while the par three, 18th is truly superb and requires a shot over Lough Leane to a bunkered green. Killarney is set in its own National Park within the famous Ring of Kerry. Here we have some of the most magical and enchanting scenery in Ireland. The fantastic experience is made up from many factors. The setting is breathtaking, the course condition is first class, the holes are varied and exciting and last but not least, the Irish welcome is warm and friendly. Surely there can be no better place in the whole of the British Isles to play inland golf.
DOOKS GOLF CLUB
Designer: Local Members
Drive time from Dingle: 1 ½ hrs.
Dooks Golf Club represents traditional Irish links golf at its best. Though not renowned the world over like its near neighbor Ballybunion, Dooks offers the visitor a unique links experience in a majestic environment. Golf Course architect Donald Steele aptly assessed the course as follows "Dooks is a rare gem it has a special place in the annals of links golf and must be preserved at all costs. Its character typifies the true meaning of what this form of the game should represent." The golf course is laid out on one of three stretches of sand dunes at the head of Dingle Bay. In the immediate foreground are the dune peninsulas of Rossbeigh and Inch, while just a few short miles away, the whitewashed houses of Cromane fishing village provide another eye catching distraction. To the southeast are the famed peaks of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, while looking northwards across the bay; one can see Slieve Mish and the Dingle mountains dominate the landscape. Dooks is perfectly suited to the golfer seeking a tranquil environment in which to enjoy a superb golf course. The courses' defense is not found in distance but in layout Dooks rewards the thinker as is common with traditional layouts. The par 3, 13th hole, measuring 150 yards, probably best represents the charm and magic that is inherent at Dooks. This is a throwback hole to the time when golf began, a time when greens lay where the fell and were the better for it. Renowned golf writer, Peter Dobereiner was suitably impressed when he played Dooks and described its charms concisely "It was a dreamlike experience playing over the rolling hills and guessing, often wrongly, which hollow would harbor a green".
Founded: 1897 (1973 present course)
Designer: Hackett, Mulcahy
Drive time from Dingle: 2 1/2 hrs.
Make no mistake about it; Waterville Golf Links in Kerry is one of the finest links golf courses in the world, never mind Ireland. Located on the Ring of Kerry, the surrounding scenery and quality of golf holes is breathtaking to say the least. The Waterville area and Ballinskelligs Bay also play an important role in the mythology and history of ancient Ireland. The granddaughter of Noah (of Ark fame) is reported to have landed in Ballinskelligs Bay, while the last of the mythical invaders, the Milesians, settled here in 1700 BC, leaving behind many archaeological reminders. These rich legends combine with a serene location to form a mystical aura that visitors to Waterville can sense to this day. Immediately before and after World War II, Waterville Golf Club enjoyed a very high profile but the links lay virtually dormant through the latter part of the 1960's until the arrival of John A. Mulcahy, an Irish born American who came with the vision of building the most testing golf links in the world. Mulcahy teamed up with renowned Irish architect Eddie Hackett and between them they have produced a course that ranks among the finest in the world. Since opening in 1973, Waterville has enjoyed great popularity and has hosted some of the world's leading professionals from Faldo and Floyd to Stewart, O'Meara and Woods, all of whom have been captivated by the course. Raymond Floyd subsequently wrote of his experience: "this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen it has some of the finest links holes I have ever played". In September of 1994, the front nine holes, which were designed to contrast with the more rugged and exposed, closing stretch, begin with the chillingly named "Last Easy", a fairly ironic name given the fact that it's not really that simple. Then again, given the quality of the remaining 17 holes, it probably deserves its title. Each hole at Waterville is a wonderful experience, with the 2nd and 3rd holes, both par fours, being particularly impressive. And while the par three, 17th is probably Waterville's feature hole, most would agree with Gary Player when he described the 11th as "the most beautiful and satisfying par five of them all". Running 500 yards through a narrow passage of huge dunes, this hole fully deserves its name "Tranquility". The late Henry Cotton, three times British Open Champion, probably said it best when he commented: "Waterville has to be one of the greatest golf courses ever built. If it were located in Britain, it would undoubtedly be a venue for the British Open. I have never seen a more consistent succession of really strong and beautiful golf holes than here."