The Royal Dublin Golf Club, the Oldest Links Course in Ireland


The Royal Dublin Golf Club is a historic golf club located in the city of Dublin, Ireland. Founded in 1885, it is the third oldest golf club in Ireland and the oldest links course. Originally called the Dublin Golf Club, it received the Royal designation in 1891.

Its original layout disappeared as the island was used as a military training ground during the First World War. The course was brought back to life by renowned English Golf Architect, Harry Colt in 1920. More recently, the Club invited another esteemed course architect, Martin Hawtree to review the course and propose alterations. The essence of the Colt design remains however Hawtree has created a modern championship links which is a joy to play.


Just Some of the Club’s Historical Memorabilia

The club has hosted many major golf tournaments over the years, including the Irish Open and the Irish PGA Championship. In addition, many famous golfers have played there including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson. Inside the club, there is a room that features a collection of golfing memorabilia, including clubs and balls used by famous golfers, as well as photographs and other artifacts.

The Championship Links

The course at Royal Dublin has three sets of tees ranging from 6484 yards to the championship tees at 7289 yards. We chose to play from the yellow tees at 6484 yards. On the first tee, we were joined by my pal Francis, John, a member, and his guest Tu, who hailed from Chicago.

Approach to Babbington’s

Babington’s, the 2nd hole, is the first par 5. For us, it was playing 459 yards although the wind was into and out of the right. A good drive, followed by an even better 3 wood got us to the front of the green, 3 putts later we had our par. Not great after our opening bogey!

Feather Bed

The 4th hole, the curiously named Feather Bed, is the first par 3. At 154 yards it’s not long however your tee shot requires precision to finish on the putting surface. This hole was playing slightly downwind out of the right. We hit 8 iron into 10 feet and unfortunately, missed the birdie putt. Little did we know at the time that our first birdie would be a while away.

Ireland’s Eye

Ireland’s Eye, the 5th hole is the second hardest hole on the course. At 425 yards, it was back into the wind and required a drover and a 3 hybrid to get close to the green which is tucked away on the left of the fairway. A decent chip and putt and we escaped with a par which we were delighted with. If that’s the second hardest hole, what awaits us on the hardest?

Par 3 Challenges

The 7th, Ardilaun

The second par 3 on the front nine is the 7th hole. Playing 163 yards downwind, take enough club to get over the false front. A good 8-iron finished about 15 feet from the hole. We missed the putt but managed to get our 3. We wouldn’t fancy playing it from the back tee at 215 yards. It could be a card wrecker from that tee!


The final hole on the front nine is Davidson’s, the third par 3. At 151 yards, it was playing with the wind coming across us from left to right. John, the member in our group, went first and his shot landed just short and bounced up onto the green. We hit our 3rd 8 iron on a par 3 and again found the green (8 iron could be our new favourite club!) We again failed to convert from about 20 feet but found ourselves at the turn in 36, one over par.

The Back Nine


The back nine starts with the hardest hole on the course, a 419-yard par 4 named Marne. It was playing downwind for us and after a good drive, we were left with a wedge to the green over a burn. We never got the bounce forward that we needed and ended up short. Unfortunately, a poor chip left us with too much to do for our par and we walked off with a bogey. This was to become a familiar feeling over the next few holes!


After another bogey at the par 5 11th hole, we arrived at Campbell’s, the last par 3 on the course. It was playing 151 yards and guess what, we hit our now favourite club, the 8 iron, again. It should have been enough club if we had hit it correctly. This time we cut it a bit and ended up in the front right bunker. A decent bunker shot left us 8 feet for par, but yet again we missed the putt.

The Golfing Gods Smile


Standing on the tee of the 13th hole, Dardanelles, we were now 4 over par and feeling a little sorry for ourselves. Ahead lay the third hardest hole on the course playing 409 yards. A decent drive left us that bloody 8 iron again (no longer the favourite club) and we overcompensated to avoid the cut and pulled it slightly. It ended up about 35 feet away and we had resigned ourselves to a par. However, the golfing gods were with us and after missing a number of shorter putts, in it went and we had birdie no. 2!


After two solid pars on 14 and 15, we arrived at the drivable par 4, named Hogan’s. At 266 yards, we decided to hit a 3-wood over the middle bunker in an effort to reach the green. A poor swing meant that we pulled it slightly and it was heading towards the left edge of the left bunker. We walked up the left with no expectations and were looking for the ball in the left rough. The golfing gods were with us once again as the ball was sitting in the middle of the green!! No idea how it got there. Two putts and we had another birdie and suddenly we were back to two over par and getting excited!

Good Luck, Then Bad Luck


The 17th hole, Coastguard’s is a 394-yard par 4. We decided to hit the lucky 3 wood off the tee and completely skied it. If it hadn’t been for a bunker rake at the first bunker, we would have had over 200 yards to go from the sand. Fortunately, the rake had prevented it from going in. An awkward stance and a swipe with the 3 hybrid got us into the front right bunker. From there, we holed the bunker shot. Unbelievable! Two terrible shots followed by a lovely bunker shot. Never give up folks!

What God Gives, He Can Take Away!


Standing on the 18th, we were one over and heading for our best score of the trip. John, the member, advised us to try and get our tee shot as far right on the fairway as we could. A good drive and we were only 10 feet from the ditch and beyond that, the out-of-bounds. The perfect position to cut the 453-yard hole down to a driver and that 8 iron. With the wind out the left, we felt good and we were ready to go.

That’s when it was all taken away. The cut 8 iron from earlier reappeared and it came up short. Not sure whether it was in the ditch or out of bounds, we walked to where we had seen it bounce. We eventually found it and it was 2 inches from being in the ditch. It was out of bounds. A disaster and a no score on the last. Total deflation!!

Royal Dublin Summary

We really enjoyed playing the historic links at Royal Dublin. There are some really great holes around the course. The front nine holes are tighter than the back nine especially since the prevailing wind is into and out of the right, going out. From the yellow tees, due to the wind, all the par 3’s were playing the same club for us. That would not be the case if you were playing off the white or the blue tees.

The Clubhouse

The Royal Dublin Chicken Ceasar Salad

If you are eating in the clubhouse then we can highly recommend the Chicken Caesar salad (healthy-ish) although not with the side order of fries or the beer. Other salads and food are available! You also get great views of the course from the main lounge and the balcony area around the clubhouse. It’s a great place to have a beer and analyse your round, even when you hit it out of bounds on the last. I still can’t let that go!

Thank you to General Manager Jeff Fallon for hosting us and to Collette in the Pro Shop and to Eddie the starter for our wonderful welcome to the club.

At a Glance:
  • Course situated in a UNESCO Nature Reserve
  • The oldest links course in Ireland
  • 18-hole Championship links
  • Practice and short-game areas
  • Superb Proshop
  • Welcoming and Friendly Staff
  • 20 minutes from both Dublin Airport and the City Centre

Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for

Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!

If you would like Jim to write about your venue, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732