If Gaelic Football is Ireland’s national sport, golf cannot be too far behind. The Island was recently named as “the top destination for American Golfing Enthusiasts.” Ireland is home to over 300 courses that offer some of the most breathtaking views of the country’s coastline and lush greenery. Here are five of the most famous and challenging courses Ireland has to offer.

Here is our pick of the five top golf courses for Shamrock Club members to visit when in Ireland hitting the links.
This Newcastle course is located in the Murlough country reserve amidst the Mountains of Mourne along the shores of Dundrum Bay. Considered the finest of all links courses, the Royal County Down Championship course is par 71 and 7,186 yards long. The picturesque yet dreaded 486-yard par 4 ninth hole features a sixty-foot fairway drop from the tee and a second shot over two bunkers to a raised green.
2.   Portmarnock (Co. Dublin) 
This Dublin-situated course has served as the site of The Canada Cup, The Walker Cup, and the Irish Open. Portmarnock was voted the second best golf course in Ireland as featured in Golf Digest Ireland 2011 November addition. A true links course surrounded three sides by water, this stout 72 par, 7,363-yard course is on 500 acres once owned by famous distiller John Jameson. The stand out hole is the par three 188-yard 15th whose narrow fairway is surrounded by sand on both sides leading up to a green shielded by two bunkers.
3.   Royal Portrush (Co. Antrim) 
This club has the distinction of being the only one in Ireland to host the Open Championship. Royal Portrush has two distinct and excellent courses: The more popular and traditional seaside links Dunluce course and the Sand mound-strewn Valley course. The Dunluce is named after the castle ruins overlooking the greens that can be seen from the 5th hole( dubbed, “white rocks”) along with a beautiful view of the Antrim coast. Lesser known and cheaper than its Dunluce counterpart, Valley features a challenging 336-yard par 4th that begins from an elevated tee to a fairway with deep drop offs.
4.   Waterville (Co. Kerry)
From This tremendous links course named top five in Ireland one can view the MacGillycuddys Reeks mountains to the northeast and the Ballinskelligs Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. Though the course does not attract major competitions due to its remote location on the ring of Kerry. It certainly  is a challenge at 6,200 yards and par 72. One outstanding hole is the 366-yard par 16th named “round the bend” as it follows the natural curvature of the Atlantic Ocean. 
5.   Ballybunion (Old Course) (Co. Kerry)
The world famous links course is located outside the quaint town of the same name on Sandhill road. No surprise to learn that this wind swept dune course on the Atlantic is home to the largest sand dunes and some of the most challenging play on the isle. The par 4 445-yard hole is quite a memorable one. The narrow fairway rests between two sand dunes leading to green on a raised plateau.