Championship Links at Portmarnock Golf Club - hole 15
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Championship Links at Portmarnock Golf Club - hole 15
The beach is in play on the 15th hole of the Championship Links at Portmarnock Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Images
Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland - hole 1
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Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland - hole 1
The first hole at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland is so good that it was left untouched during a redesign by Martin Hawtree. Courtesy of Trump International
Ardglass Golf Club - hole 1
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Ardglass Golf Club - hole 1
The first hole at Ardglass Golf Club plays uphill around the sea and is one of Northern Ireland's finest. Courtesy of Ardglass G.C.
Old Head Golf Links - hole 12
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Old Head Golf Links - hole 12
The par-5 12th hole at Old Head Golf Links hugs the cliff's edge dangerously the entire 564 yards tee-to-green. David Cannon/Getty Images
Tralee Golf Club - hole 16
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Tralee Golf Club - hole 16
Author Jason Scott Deegan tees off on the 16th hole at Tralee Golf Club. The hole is named "Shipwreck" because of the treacherous coastline that has claimed many ships. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club - hole 11
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Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club - hole 11
The tumbling par-4 11th hole on the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club yields few flat lies. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills Links - 6th
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Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort - Sandy Hills Links - 6th
The par-4 sixth hole on the Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort climbs uphill, then falls to this green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Adare Golf Club - 18th
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Adare Golf Club - 18th
Richard Finch famously won the 2008 Irish Open after falling in the river near Adare Golf Club's 18th green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Dunlace - hole 14
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Dunlace - hole 14
No. 14 on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club is one of the most famous par 3s in the world. Getty Images
European Club - hole 7
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European Club - hole 7
The views around the seventh green at The European Club hijack the senses. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Druids Glen Golf Course - hole 13
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Druids Glen Golf Course - hole 13
The dramatic par-4 13th at Druids Glen Golf Course is the hardest hole at the 36-hole resort. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club - Dell hole
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Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club - Dell hole
Dunes hide the green from golfers on the famous "Dell" hole on the Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
K Club - Palmer Ryder Cup golf course - hole 16
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K Club - Palmer Ryder Cup golf course - hole 16
The 16th on the Palmer Ryder Cup Course at The K Club is another great par-5 hole. Courtesy of The K Club
Waterville Golf Links - hole 12
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Waterville Golf Links - hole 12
The 12th green at Waterville Golf Links (the famous "Mass Hole") sits as a shelf among the dunes. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Portsalon Golf Club - hole 2
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Portsalon Golf Club - hole 2
The second hole at Portsalon Golf Club is celebrated as one of the best par 4s in Ireland. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Strand Course at Portstewart Golf Club - hole 1
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Strand Course at Portstewart Golf Club - hole 1
The opening hole of the Strand course at Portstewart Golf Club doglegs so hard to the right that the green isn't visible from the tee, but the view is still pretty good. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
St. Patrick's Day rainbow
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St. Patrick's Day rainbow
You'll need a good dose of luck to par the 9th hole at Royal County Down, as well as these other finest holes of Ireland. Golf Advisor
Enniscrone Golf Club - Dunes golf course - hole 16
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Enniscrone Golf Club - Dunes golf course - hole 16
The dramatic par-5 16th on the Dunes course at Enniscrone Golf Club runs between the dunes and Killala Bay. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Royal County Down Golf Club - hole 9
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Royal County Down Golf Club - hole 9
After a blind shot from the ninth tee, golfers trudge up a dune to reveal this spectacular view at Royal County Down Golf Club. Getty Images

From Portrush to Ballybunion: Tour the best 18 holes in Ireland

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I've handpicked the 18 best golf holes in Ireland and Northern Ireland. As the course architect, I've looped them together into a fictitious but fantastic par-72 layout of 7,363 yards.

This dream layout -- with a back nine almost entirely along the scenic shore -- is a result of more than a decade of trips to the Emerald Isle.

Three of the clubs represented have hosted major international events -- Royal Portrush (1951 Open Championship), the Palmer Ryder Cup Course at The K Club (2006 Ryder Cup) and Royal County Down (2007 Walker Cup) -- and four others the European Tour's Irish Open -- Ballybunion, Druids Glen, Adare G.C. and Portmarnock.

Only one hole per club was eligible. The best part? None of the 18 holes are hidden away at private clubs. They're accessible to all comers. Do you question a selection or two? Let's spark up a lively debate over a pint at the 19th hole, the hub of that legendary Irish hospitality.

• HOLE 1: No. 1, Strand Course at Portstewart Golf Club, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland; 427 yards, par 4.

• HOLE 2: No. 2, Portsalon Golf Club, County Donegal; 457 meters (roughly 500 yards), par 4.

• HOLE 3: No. 12, Waterville Golf Links, County Kerry; 200 yards, par 3.

• HOLE 4: No. 16, Palmer Ryder Cup Course at The K Club, County Kildare; 570 yards, par 5.

• HOLE 5: No. 5, Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club, County Clare; 154 yards, par 3.

• HOLE 6: No. 13, Druids Glen Golf Course, County Wicklow; 491 yards, par 4.

• HOLE 7: No. 7, The European Club, County Wicklow; 470 yards, par 4.

• HOLE 8: No. 14, Dunluce Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club, County Antrim, Northern Ireland; 210 yards, par 3.

• HOLE 9: No. 18, Adare Golf Club, County Limerick; 548 yards, par 5.

• HOLE 10: No. 6, Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort, County Donegal; 420 yards, par 4.

• HOLE 11: No. 11, Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club, County Kerry; 473 yards, par 4.

• HOLE 12: No. 16, Tralee Golf Club, County Kerry; 199 yards, par 3.

• HOLE 13: No. 12, Old Head Golf Links, County Cork; 564 yards, par 5.

• HOLE 14: No. 1, Ardglass Golf Club, County Down, Northern Ireland; 335 yards, par 4.

• HOLE 15: No. 1, Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland, County Clare; 567 yards, par 5.

• HOLE 16: No. 15, Championship Links at Portmarnock Golf Club, County Dublin; 204 yards, par 3.

• HOLE 17: No. 16, Dunes course at Enniscrone Golf Club, County Sligo; 545 yards, par 5.

• HOLE 18: No. 9, Championship Links at Royal County Down Golf Club, County Down, Northern Ireland; 486 yards, par 4.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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