Ballybunion Old Course Review

Par 71, 6,802 yards, links

This is one of the most famous links courses in Europe. It is a natural gem, a thing of rare beauty. No less a person than Tom Watson said of it: "Nobody can call himself a golfer until he has played at Ballybunion; you would think the game originated there."   

The 1st hole, which is 408 yards long, features out of bounds on the right. The ideal line is tight left, but pot bunkers await, while a sharply contoured green is protected by a further four bunkers.  

The 5th is a real test, a 560-yard par 5, with bunkers all over the hole, including two slap bang in the middle of the fairway and others left and right. Take a deep breath.  

The 9th, a par 4 at 462 yards, features a narrow fairway and only one bunker, located in a dune 50 yards short of the green. A slope leads up to the putting surface - failure to hit the approach far enough will see the ball rolling back down off the slope.  

The 12th is a par 3 measuring 214 yards, with the beach to the left. The green is elevated so the key is to take one club more than you think you need.  

The 15th is another beautiful hole, a par 3 that is 216 yards long. Again, the beach sits to the left. The tee-shot is played to a two-tier green protected by four bunkers.  

The 18th is a wonderful closing hole, measuring 382 yards, and featuring a huge fairway bunker. The second shot is played uphill to a long, narrow green protected by bunkers.

ballybunion old course

Find out more detail or request a quote if you are interested in playing this course as part of your golf vacation with the golf travel experts at

Dereck Clements

Derek Clements is a golf journalist - he has covered many Open Championships and European Tour events, as well as The Masters. Born in Glasgow, he writes for The Sunday Times and Golfshake, and has also written for Today's Golfer, the Daily Mail, Swing by Swing and many other golf websites, magazines and newspapers. He has played golf all over the world and numbers Gleneagles, Kingsbarns and Aldeburgh as his three favourite golf courses in the United Kingdom. He lives in Suffolk, is a member of Waldringfield Golf Club and has a handicap of nine. He had lessons from the late Bob Torrance and has worked with Jean-Jacques Rivet, one of the world's leading golf biomechanists.