Old Head Golf Links
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Old Head Golf Links
Ireland's most spectacular seaside play is Old Head Golf Links. Courtesy of Old Head Golf Links
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Tralee Golf Club - hole 16
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Tralee Golf Club - hole 16
The par-3 16th hole at Tralee Golf Club is named "Shipwreck" because of the treacherous coastline that has claimed many ships in years past. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Royal County Down Golf Club - hole 9
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Royal County Down Golf Club - hole 9
The second half of the ninth hole at The Royal County Down Golf Club is spectacular. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Ardglass Golf Club - hole 5
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Ardglass Golf Club - hole 5
The par-3 fifth hole at Ardglass Golf Club, called "Black Rock," features tees set hard against the coast. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Druids Glen Golf Club - hole 12
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Druids Glen Golf Club - hole 12
The 12th green at Druids Glen Golf Club is a scenic spot. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
The European Club - hole 7
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The European Club - hole 7
The views around the seventh green at The European Club hijack the senses. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Doonbeg Golf Club - 14th green
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Doonbeg Golf Club - 14th green
The 100-yard 14th hole at Doonbeg Golf Club is beautiful -- and treacherous. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Adare Manor Golf Club - hole 18
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Adare Manor Golf Club - hole 18
Adare Manor Golf Club climaxes near the 18th green in the shadow of Adare Manor. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Dunluce Course - holes 5 and 6
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Dunluce Course - holes 5 and 6
The fifth green and sixth tee on the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush Golf Club feature a beautiful setting along the dunes that border the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy of Douglas Ford Images
Portstewart Golf Club - Strand Course - hole 4
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Portstewart Golf Club - Strand Course - hole 4
The fourth hole on the Strand course at Portstewart Golf Club is one of Ireland's finest par 5s. David Cannon/Getty Images
County Sligo G.C.
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County Sligo G.C.
Views like this make County Sligo Golf Club a must-see links in northwest Ireland. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Enniscrone Golf Club - hole 16
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Enniscrone Golf Club - hole 16
A view of the 16th hole at Enniscrone Golf Club in County Sligo, Ireland. Courtesy of Enniscrone G.C.

Ireland's 'Delicious Dozen:' Drool over pictures of 12 of the most scenic Irish golf courses

There are a dozen reasons why Ireland is home to so many scenic golf courses.

Miles of coastline, home to bucolic beaches and dazzling dunes, surround the Emerald Isle. The rolling countryside looks like a patchwork quilt colored various shades of green, often with mountains as a backdrop.

I've come up with a list of a dozen of the most beautiful courses I've played in Ireland over the past decade. Be sure to bring a camera to play this "Delicious Dozen." And if you're lucky, a sunny day will reveal their full glory.

Not all of them are links, either. Two stunning parkland courses -- Druids Glen Golf Club in County Wicklow and Adare Manor in County Limerick -- don't need the ocean to strut their stuff. The European Club, Pat Ruddy's 20-hole creation 30 minutes south of Dublin, is another Wicklow wonderland.

Northern Ireland serves up a fabulous foursome: Royal County Down, Ardglass Golf Club, the Dunlance Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club and the Strand Course at Portstewart Golf Club.

Two gems in County Sligo in the northwest of Ireland -- Enniscrone Golf Club and County Sligo Golf Club -- made the cut. Wild dunes characterize Enniscrone, while the panoramic views of five counties and Benbulben Mountain make County Sligo special.

The beaches along Doonbeg Golf Club and the magical Tralee Golf Club showcase the best of southwest Ireland, even overshadowing their more prestigious neighbors, Ballybunion and Lahinch.

No course, however, compares to the sheer wow factor of Old Head Golf Links, near Kinsale in the southwest. Old Head's cliffs and lighthouse remain a spectacle every golfer should see at least once.

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.
Related Links
Attracting more Americans than any other Irish golf club, Ballybunion has mastered the art of making overseas visitors feel welcome and providing them with first-class facilities. And the club has accomplished this without sacrificing any of the charm, warmth and friendliness that makes golfing in Ireland such a treat. But what puts Ballybunion right on the top of most discerning golfer's wish list are the two spectacular courses, the Old and the Cashen.
Northwest Ireland -- a beautiful and unspoiled region of Ireland -- is home to one-sixth of the world's links courses. They're spread out like outposts along the coast, often with an hour or more of driving between them. Golfers heading to Ireland have always hit the Southwest first, mainly to check off top-100 courses. That mindset is slowly changing. What the Northwest lacks in ranking star-power, it makes up for in value and charm.
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