Great golf courses for beginners
Ireland is world-famous for being a golfer’s paradise—but for some of us, the big hitters at the big-name clubs may be more intimidating than enticing! Thankfully, this glorious green island is blessed with countless courses that are as welcoming as they are beautiful. Where you can play golf no matter your level. In our beginners guide to golf in Ireland, here are 10 of our favourites.
1. Castlerock Golf Club, County Londonderry
Known as Ireland's hidden gem for links golf on the north coast, Castlerock is home to both an 18-hole and a 9-hole course, as well as a beginner-friendly practice area and short course.
Management promises that this is the club to visit if you’re looking for “the next step up, and learning how to play links golf”–So there’s no pressure to channel Darren Clarke when you’re practising your golf swing!
Hailed by Golf & Incentive Travel as “one of the most welcoming clubs in the land”, you’re sure to feel at home at Castlerock in no time.
2. Galgorm Castle, County Antrim
On the grounds of the elegant Galgorm Castle Estate, this course is ideal for anyone hoping to pair a practice round with a luxurious weekend away in stunning surrounds. Named "Parkland Course of the Year" by the Ireland Golf Tour Operator Association, this 18-hole course is bordered by two rivers and five lakes, and sits within 220 acres of historic parkland.
The golf academy boasts 24 bays as well as a short game area, where PGA staff are on hand to help you figure out your chipping from your lob shots. And if it’s good enough to host the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, it’s good enough for us!
3. Holywood Golf Club, County Down
Just stepping through the doors of this state-of-the-art club will have you feeling like a pro, even if you don’t (yet!) play like one. Known for being Rory McIlroy’s home club, this 69-par parkland course offers unrivalled views of Belfast Lough and the County Antrim coast, making a round here a treat for the soul.
Like Galgorm, Holywood also has a performance academy, where you can up your game before hitting the green. The team here uses K-vest and TrackMan technology to analyse your swing and how you move and hit the ball, allowing your coaches to give truly personalised training. The future is now!
4. Enniskillen Golf Club, County Fermanagh
Established in 1896, Enniskillen has the comfortable air of a club that’s been doing its thing and getting it right for a lifetime. Nestled within Castlecoole Estate, the fairways of this parkland course are lined with trees and blessed with panoramic views out over the Fermanagh Lakelands.
The back nine holes have become the first in Northern Ireland to be named an Area of Special Scientific Interest—but all 18 are worth a visit. We recommend challenging yourself to the seventh hole: par 4 might seem doable, but hit too far right and you’ll meet a soggy end in the lake!
“Our back nine is the perfect place to ease yourself into golf”Enniskillen Golf Club
5. Macreddin Golf Club, County Wicklow
The first course designed by Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, it’s little wonder Golf World Magazine deemed Macreddin “outstanding and truly spectacular”. 18 expertly engineered holes sit within 160 acres of woodland in Wicklow – the county known as “the garden of Ireland”; and once you visit, you’ll see why Macreddin has been voted one of the top 10 golf courses in Ireland.
The driving range and short game area allow golfers to practice as long as they like before taking themselves to the greens, making this a great balance for beginner golfers seeking to challenge themselves.
6. Galway Bay Golf Resort, County Galway
Designed by former Ryder Cup and World Cup golfer Christy O’Connor Jnr, this course sits just a few miles south of Galway city. Its location on the Atlantic coast means the wind here adds an exciting unpredictability to a round, daring new and experienced players alike to up their game.
With a dedicated TrackMan room and the club pro, Dara Ford, on hand to help, every visitor is encouraged and enabled to make the most of their time here. The clubhouse has been rebuilt in recent years, too, ensuring the golfing experience—and that all-important 19th hole!—is perfectly rounded off after a day on the fairways.
“With views of Galway Bay, Connemara, the Aran Islands and the Burren, if your game isn't going all that well you can at least take in the scenery!”Galway Bay Golf Resort
7. Seapoint Golf Links, County Louth
The key is in the name here: a seaside wonderland tucked away in Ireland’s smallest county, Seapoint is a dream come true. Having hosted the Irish PGA Championship and Irish Close Golf Championship since the gates opened in the early 1990s, Seapoint has welcomed a whole host of big names in its relatively short life.
A round here promises breathtaking views over the Mourne Mountains as well as the Irish Sea; and in the words of Pádraig Harrington, “There is not a weak hole on the entire golf course”.
“The holes roll across the natural links terrain like the tide and then rise like crashing waves near the sea, as you’re called upon to hit through and over tall sand hills.”Matt Cooper, golf journalist
8. The Ring of Kerry Golf Club, County Kerry
Overlooking Kenmare Bay and the Beara Mountains, a day spent at the Ring of Kerry Golf Club is one to be treasured. A mix of parkland, links and heathland golf, this course offers the novice player an excellent introduction to each type, all while surrounded by the glorious flora and fauna of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Regulars have a soft spot for the sights from the 6th and 13th holes, known as "Ladies View" and "An Neldin", respectively; while the driving range provides a place for new golfers to practise their swing before hitting the par 73 course. What more could you ask for?
9. Letterkenny Golf Club, County Donegal
On the banks of the Swilly Estuary, this parkland course dates back to 1913, but has undergone an extensive redesign within the past 15 years. Sitting pretty amid 146 acres of parkland, Letterkenny is a historic course and has drawn stars like Paul McGinley and Shane Lowry to its 18 holes since its renovation—it’s even hosted the Ladies Irish Open.
For visitors today, club PGA pro, Seamus McMonagle, is on hand to bring out the inner Graeme McDowell in everyone, whether they’ve just picked up a putter for the first time, or are working on becoming a golfer par excellence!
10. Esker Hills Golf Club, County Offaly
Over a century after the first rounds were played on this soil, Esker Hills Golf Club was founded in 1997. Home of Shane Lowry, tour professional and 2019 British Open Champion, this 18-hole course is known for its superb sand-based greens—unusual for an inland course—as well as the variety between its holes.
Routed in two loops of nine holes, Esker Hills is one to try if you’re seeking a challenge that will keep you returning again and again. And an insider tip: hire the golf cart to avoid being tired out trekking across the greens. You’ll thank us later!
“Esker Hills is one of Ireland’s finest golf courses. If you are a golfer, never ever pass this place”David Walsh, journalist, The Sunday Times