Top 5 golf courses in southwest Ireland: Matt Ginella ranks the best

Southwest Ireland is one of the world's most popular links destinations for a variety of reasons: it's a mere five-hour flight from Boston to Shannon Airport in Co. Clare, the hospitality is first class, and the collection of links golf courses go pound-for-pound with any destination in the world.

Golf Channel's Matt Ginella recently spent a week in Ireland for the 25th staging of the World Invitational Father & Son Golf Tournament, hosted by Carr Golf Travel at Waterville Golf Links.

Upon his return, he's gushing about the experience, from playing Waterville five days in a row to visiting coastal towns like picture-perfect Kinsale.

He's updated his top 5 in the southwest and shared them with Gary Williams on Golf Channel's Morning Drive:

Video: Ginella ranks his top 5 golf courses in southwest Ireland

1. Waterville Golf Links
2. Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club
3. Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club
4. Tralee Golf Club
5. Old Head Golf Links

Meanwhile, GolfAdvisor Senior Writer Jason Scott Deegan has made frequent trips to southwest Ireland. So do any different courses crack his top 5, such as Trump International Golf Links Ireland, Ballybunion's Cashen Course, Dooks -- or parklands like Killarney Golf & Fish Club or Dromoland Castle?

In fact, his top 5 has the same names as Ginella, albeit in a different order:

Jason Scott Deegan's top 5 golf courses in southwest Ireland

1. Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club
2. Tralee Golf Club
3. Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club
4. Old Head Golf Links
5. Waterville Golf Links

Of course, the big gorilla lurking among County Clare golf is Donald Trump's recent purchase of Doonbeg, a five-star lodge and Greg Norman-designed links in County Clare a few minutes from Lahinch. Trump has already commissioned Martin Hawtree for a redesign of the links, which suffered immense winter storm damage in 2014, and he hopes to take on the infamous microscopic snails that inhabit the property's most dramatic dunes.

So the question is, once Trump has completed his work on Doonbeg (now named Trump International Golf Links Ireland), will he be able to one day convince Ginella and Deegan to add Trump Ireland to their respective top 5s?

Considering so many Americans have been to southwest Ireland, chances are you've got your top 5 in mind too. We'd love to hear them in the comments below.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
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A serious catch up sitting for me with the Bovey Castle Volga thanks for posting love the banter. This is a course I distinguish healthily and love additional - it will always be that bit unusual as

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I love Doonbeg and played it before the par 3 on the cliffside was washed out. I know it provides work for locals, but I could never play any course with Trumps name on it. I also heard he wanted to redesign the first hole which would be sacrilege in my opinion.

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mcfinex, my upcoming trip includes Dingle, but I can't disagree more about skipping Ballybunion. If you aren't going to play Ballybunion Old, why go to southwest Ireland at all? On my first trip I just stayed in Ballybunion and played both courses every day for a week (in large part to keep driving to a minimum), and I couldn't have had a better time. I do not like to waste money and I don't care about luxury, and it was worth every penny. I have expanded my itinerary on each subsequent trip, but the one constant is Ballybunion.

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An interesting seaside course between Ballybunion and Lahinch is the Kilkee seaside course. Fantastic views from a number of holes and green fees very reasonable.

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If money is a object I would put Dingle (Ceann Sibeal) Golf Links, Dooks Golf Club, and Killarney Kileen Course on your list. Very good courses and great value You can blow off Old Head and Ballybunion. Very good good courses but very expensive and to American. Their proshops and clubhouses are over the top, IMO. If you have to spend money on two courses Tralee(best back nine in Ireland) and Waterville(need to experience Ring of Kerry) would be my picks.

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Top 5 golf courses in southwest Ireland: Matt Ginella ranks the best