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Scenic Golf Courses along the Wild Atlantic Way

Dotted all along the west of Ireland you’ll find some of the world’s best scenic golf courses. Golfing on the Wild Atlantic Way means stunning views, challenging holes and truth be told, some unusual quirks!

Here, we take a look at some of the unique golfing nuances you’ll find along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Mulranny and the 90% Air Rule

Golfer and horses on Mulranny golf course

As avid fans will know, there are many rules in golf. Most will already be aware of the 90% rule, which means if there’s a chance of passing through an obstruction that is 90% air, you should take the shot. 

Usually this is for trying to pass through trees when caught in the rough, but that’s not the case at Mulranny Golf Club.

Set on the shores of Clew Bay in Mayo, this course is home to some local wildlife who help maintain the fairways. You’ll often see donkeys and sheep observing games, or taking in the views of Croagh Patrick. Because of this, you’ll find fences guarding the greens. This gives Mulranny a unique take on the 90% rule.

You can opt to chip over the fence or take a chance and try to go straight through it. Either way, the wildlife will be looking on, giving you support.


Golfer and goat on Lahinch golf course

Honorary member and American golf legend Phil Mickelson rates Lahinch Golf Club in Clare as his favourite golf links. "Some of my fondest memories of great golfing holes in the world include the number four and five holes there," he says.

Named the ‘Klondyke’ and the ‘Dell’, these holes are known for their blind spots. Here, high dunes block the view of the green and you’ve only got white stone markers to help guide your aim; unusual features in any golf course. But Lahinch’s blind spots are not nearly as famous as its other honorary members.

On any given day, you’ll find a herd of goats patrolling the course and acting as a weather guide! If the goats are hiding out close to the clubhouse, the prospects of a dry round of golf aren’t the best. 

However, if you see them strolling around the sand hills, you’re in for a fantastic day for a round on one of the world’s best links courses.

The goats’ importance hasn’t been ignored either. They’re forever part of the club’s history as they make up part of its emblem, along with the thistle and shamrock.



Doonbeg Golf Course

You’d be hard-pressed to find a golf course more picturesque than Doonbeg Golf Club in Clare, which operates on a “least disturbance philosophy”. High dunes mean deep bunkers, and lots of them.  

If you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in the sand, you’ll fully understand the depth of these moon-like craters. Bunkers guarding the 11th and 12th holes in particular have caught out many an unsuspecting golfer, with the former measuring 15ft deep. Approach with caution!


Sheep on Achill Island

From the dramatic Slievemore Mountains to the Blue Flag beach of Keem Strand, there are some breathtaking sights to take in as you complete your round at Achill Island Golf Club. None more so than the herds of sheep that dutifully maintain the fairways.

Not to worry though - greens are off limits. Fences surround them so as to avoid any unwanted divots, prints or other marks (!), so you can really focus on sinking your putt.


Golfer on Otway course

Bring a good sense of direction but leave your fear of heights at home for a game of golf at Otway Golf Club in Donegal. Founded in 1893, it’s one of the oldest courses in Ireland and boasts panoramic views of Lough Swilly. The ninth tee on the headland, leading to Mackamish Fort, means hitting your ball over the sea from a cliff. Once you’re on the fairways, you’ll need your wits about you as you aim your next shot. Expect to hear shouts of ‘Fore!’ aplenty.

Ballybunion Golf Club and Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton statue

If you find yourself golfing at Ballybunion in County Kerry, look out for a life-sized bronze statue of America’s former president in the town centre (the only statue of Bill Clinton to be found in the world to date). Posed at tee-off, Bill is huge fan of the course. “It's perfectly Irish: beautiful, rough and a lot like life – you get breaks you don't deserve, both ways. You just have to keep swinging and know it will all even out.”

US astronaut Daniel Tani has described Ballybunion in Kerry as a course “I could play every day for the rest of my life”, apparently, “it’s just that good.” 

To find these scenic golf courses for yourself, check out our mapor get more golfing ideas with our guide to the route's 18 Great Golf Holes.

Image Credits

Golfer and donkey - Keen Footwear
Lahinch golfer and goat - Dan Linehan
Doonbeg Golf Course - via www.1golf.eu
Achill Island sheep - via Pictures of Ireland
Otway Golf Course - via Rathmullan.net
Bill Clinton statue - via Sean Lynch Info