Every year the world’s best golfers descend upon Ireland’s shores to take part in prestigious tournaments, and we have rounded up eight high-profile competitions that take place on some of the best courses around the island.
These internationally renowned events offer a unique opportunity to catch the world’s elite players in action on the championship courses of Northern Ireland, the parklands of Ireland’s Ancient East and the links beauties of the Wild Atlantic Way.
1. The Amateur Championship (June)
In 2024, one of the world’s biggest amateur events, The 129th Amateur Championship, will take place at Ballyliffin Golf Club, on the remote Inishowen Peninsula along the Wild Atlantic Way. With its colossal dunes and two championship courses – the Old Links and the Glashedy Links – Ballyliffin is a favourite of golf enthusiasts who have long regarded Ireland’s north west as one of the finest golfing locations on the island. The club can even claim Rory McIlroy as a fan after the superstar golfer said: “Ballyliffin’s two courses are a must-play on any golf trip to Ireland”.
If you want to see the world’s best amateur golfers take on the ultimate links challenge, book your tickets, and then start planning your trip to County Donegal’s sightseeing highlights such as the Slieve League Cliffs and the lively seaside towns of Buncrana and Bundoran.
2. Legends Tour (June)
It’s a testament to the quality of the relatively young links course at Seapoint Golf Club that it was selected to host the Irish Legends. This was the third-largest event ever on the Legends Tour, the official tour for players over 50 that offers amateurs the rare opportunity to play in a championship alongside former Major winners, world number ones and Ryder Cup players and captains.
Measuring 7,150 yards, the 72-par championship course at Seapoint can be a test, even for the pros, with every hole offering its own challenge and the weather ensuring that no two rounds will ever be the same. Combined with its breathtaking location on Ireland’s northwest coast, against a backdrop of the Cooley Peninsula and the Mourne Mountains, it’s fair to say that Seapoint is a legend in its own right.
3. The Women’s Amateur Championship (June)
As one of the R&A’s prestigious series of tournaments, the Women’s Amateur Championship is a world-class showcase for female golfers and a feeding ground for future professionals – winners can gain entry to a host of high-profile events. Portmarnock Golf Clubhosted this competition just once before, back in 1939, so its choice was a sort of homecoming for the club.
Portmarnock has a long history of attracting world-class championship golfers, drawn to the challenge of its lush greens, elevated tees and the constant companion of a sea breeze. In addition, it glories in a spectacular setting on a peninsula jutting into the Irish Sea and a fascinating connection with Irish whiskey royalty given its location on the old Jameson estate just a short distance from Dublin city and airport. Intrigued? Get your tickets here.
Men’s champions in waiting play the Irish Challenge as they progress to golf’s top tier and the chance to battle it out at the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca. Operated by the PGA European Tour, it has nurtured talent in Ireland since 2015 with winners fast-tracked to more prestigious tournaments.
The championship course at Headfort Golf Club in County Meath is the perfect venue for the tournament, as it’s one of the oldest and finest parkland courses in Ireland. Designed by Christy O’Connor Jnr, this 72-par course has a superb layout, rare specimen trees, a couple of islands and vibrant wildlife. Venture into the pretty heritage town of Kells (once home to the famous Book of Kells), and you’ve got a great base to explore the ancient wonders of the Boyne Valley.
5. ISPS Handa Invitational (August)
Galgorm Castle Golf Club and Castlerock Golf Club, both in Northern Ireland, co-host the innovative ISPS Handa Invitational competition, which sees elite players from the DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour competing at the same venues at the same time for equal prize money.
Galgorm is one of the finest golfing venues in Northern Ireland, with a location that makes it super-accessible to Belfast city and its two international airports. The 400-acre estate, with its 17th century Jacobean castle, is home to a 72-par course that runs 7,276 yards, with holes that meander by the rivers Maine and Braid. At Castlerock, on the spectacular Causeway Coastal Route, the Mussenden course is a classic links set amidst towering sand dunes and is known for its quick greens.
6. KPMG Women’s Irish Open (August)
Fresh from a multi-million-euro upgrade to its course, Dromoland Castle in County Clare is hosting the KPMG Women’s Irish Open for a second time. Europe’s top professional female golfers, including KPMG ambassador Leona Maguire, will compete for the impressive prize fund and take on the challenge of Dromoland Castle’s 6,824 yard, par-72 championship course.
You can buy tickets on the KPMG Women’s Irish Open website. And if you want to venture beyond the competition, County Clare has plenty to offer, from iconic landscapes such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren to the historic Bunratty Castle, not to mention a sublime collection of links and parkland golf courses.
The K Club’s 550 acres of rolling countryside in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East is the venue for the Horizon Irish Open, a high-profile competition that began in 1927 and boasts an illustrious list of past champions. This is only the second time the K Club has hosted the event – fans of Rory McIlroy will remember his spectacular win back in 2016 – but the event will be returning to the K Club in 2025 and 2027, in a significant coup for the club.
There are two scenic courses here, both designed by golfing legend Arnold Palmer, including the lengthy par-72 north course which features towering trees, long extending fairways and holes located along a private stretch of the River Liffey. Watch out for the 16th hole; it’s a tricky one. You can get tickets for the event online. And once the golf is over, why not take the opportunity to explore the lush landscapes and historical gems of County Kilkenny or the buzz of Dublin city – just a 30-minute drive away.
8. Ryder Cup (September)
A century after the first-ever Ryder Cup took place in Massachusetts, the best players in the US and Europe will play to win this prestigious competition when it returns to Ireland in 2027. One of the world’s great sporting events needs a venue to match – and it has found that in Adare Manor in County Limerick, just a 30-minute drive from both Limerick city and Shannon Airport. The course here is a state-of-the-art feat of engineering, recently redesigned by Tom Fazio and sprawling across 230 acres of parkland, dotted with mature trees and medieval ruins.
Adare Manor itself is the backdrop to the course but that doesn’t mean that it plays second fiddle to the manicured fairways. Its Gothic architecture, with signature arches, chimneys, gargoyles and, of course, the hallmark turrets, is only surpassed by its opulent interior, spa, fine dining and first-class hospitality. If you’re interested in attending the Ryder Cup, you can register your interest and start planning your trip to the Wild Atlantic Way, with its dramatic coastlines and challenging links courses. It will be the trip of a lifetime.