Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 16th
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 16th
The 16th hole provides a magical moment on the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club in southwest Ireland. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - cemetery
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - cemetery
Justin Farrell, a tour operator who runs the Links of Ireland, practices on the putting green near the cemetery on the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 6
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 6
The sixth hole finally introduces the ocean on the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 7th
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 7th
The seventh hole on the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club roams along the shore. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 10th green
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 10th green
Walkers trek down the 11th fairway of the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club with the 10th green in the foreground. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 8
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 8
If you can avoid the three deep bunkers, a good score is possible on the par-3 eighth hole of the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 11th green
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 11th green
The 11th green on the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club sits by the beach. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 12
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 12
It's an uphill climb to reach the par-3 12th green on the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 13
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 13
A hidden burn protects the 13th green of the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 14th
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - 14th
The tiny 14th hole on the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club plays just 133 yards to an elevated green. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 15
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Ballybunion Golf Club - Old Course - hole 15
Follow the path between the dunes to find the par-3 15th green of the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club in County Kerry, Ireland. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
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Dynamic dunes make the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club southwest Ireland's most sought-after links

BALLYBUNION, County Kerry, Ireland -- Perhaps nowhere else in the world can you stand next to a cemetery and feel so alive. Golfers on the first tee of the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club must avoid that famous cemetery on the right to kick off their round.

It's probably a bit unfair to think of the first five holes at Ballybunion as a mere warm-up, although that's essentially what the beginning stretch feels like until the dunes and Atlantic Ocean take over the senses. From the sixth hole on, towering sand dunes dictate the lines of play on this 6,802-yard, par-71 links dating to 1893.

Four rousing holes (nos. 7, 11, 16 and 17) romp directly along the ocean. Just when golfers think they've got it easy -- the downwind, 133-yard 14th hole is a mere half-wedge -- Ballybunion Old bites back with a rip-it driver into the gale to reach the 15th green, the end of a 216-yard, par-3 maze through the dunes.

Links golf just doesn't get any better than this.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Dynamic dunes make the Old Course at Ballybunion Golf Club southwest Ireland's most sought-after links