Royal Dublin Golf Club got its start in 1885, making it the second-oldest golf club in Ireland. Originally called Dublin Golf Club, Queen Victoria granted the club royal patronage in 1891. It moved twice before coming to Bull Island, where it can be found today.
It’s interesting to note that Bull Island, located in Dublin Bay, is the only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in a capital city. This “island” is actually an ever-growing sandbank that was the result of a sea wall being built in the early 1800s.
As Bull Island has changed over the years, so has the course at Royal Dublin Golf Club. The first version of the course was destroyed during World War I and rebuilt by Harry Colt in 1920. Dr. Martin Hawtree redeveloped the course between 2004 and 2006, adding two new holes and another 450 yards for a total of 7,268.
The course is a traditional Scottish out-and-back links, not exactly what you’d expect to find at a golf club in Ireland. It is a joy to play nevertheless, with the 18th hole being the highlight. It features a sharp, nearly 90-degree corner known as “The Garden” and anything right of the fairway is considered out of bounds. This is the hole Steve Ballesteros birdied to pip Bernhard Langer and win the 1985 Irish Open.
Better still is the 19th hole, the Christy O’Connor Bar. This bar, located upstairs in the clubhouse of Royal Dublin Golf Club, pays homage to one of Ireland’s great golf heroes. The walls are decorated with memorabilia related to O’Connor, who was the club pro in 1959 and won the Irish Open at Royal Dublin in 1966. Be sure to grab a pint and take a look around.