The Ballybunion Golf Club in County Kerry, Ireland (founded in 1893) had barely opened its doors before experiencing financial problems. An investment from Colonel Bartholomew saved the club in 1906, and nine new holes were promptly laid out. By 1927 the course had been expanded to 18 holes.
The “home” of golf is across the Irish Sea, but its soul surely lies at Ballybunion Golf Club Old Course in County Kerry Ireland! No other course in the British Isles combines such spectacular golf with holes that are still fun and playable for the average golfer as does the incomparable and famous Old Course at Ballybunion. Challenge the corner of the cemetery on the first, and give new meaning to “do or die.” Work your way out to the sea and Ballybunion Golf Club’s roller-coaster 11th, tumbling 3 tiers along the cliffs. In our opinion, this incredible par-4 is nothing less than the finest hole on earth. A bit later in the round, climb to the Ballybunion Golf Club’s 17th tee, the tallest dune on the Old Course, where a bench with “CTH” inscribed on it sits.
This is in honor and memory of a popular deceased member who used to stand there and remark “this is the Closest To Heaven I’m ever going to get!” We certainly think that Ballybunion Golf Club Old Course might well be the closest to heaven as a golfer can get on this Earth. It is simply sensational, and can’t be missed on a golf tour to Ireland. But there is even more to be experienced at Ballybunion. Stay in town for a night or two and experience the welcome for which Ballybunion is famous!
Considered one of the finest links courses in the world, Ballybunion’s reputation grew over time. Unfortunately, its remote locale on the Irish southwest coast has prevented the course from being selected for many top championship events. Still, a number of the world’s best players have found their way to the famed course. One, in particular, has had a lasting impact. Tom Watson first visited Ballybunion in 1981 and has returned often.
In 1995, he remodeled Ballybunion into the course that exists today. Ballybunion was ranked by Golf Digest in 2005 as the seventh best course in the world outside the United States. Ballybunion’s success has led to new visitors from around the world booking tours of this and many other golfing jewel locations.