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A Look at the Best Irish Golfers of All Time

  • December 22, 2022 // The Consummate Pro

Just under 5 million adults in the United Kingdom and Ireland play golf. It’s a popular sport, and Ireland has been the home of some of the true legends of the game. So, who are the best Irish golfers to learn about if you’re planning a trip to the region? Read on to learn all about the best Irish golfers in history.


Padraig Harrington

Born in 1971 in Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland, Padraig Harrington ran up 31 total tour wins over the course of his career. He began as an amateur before going professional in 1995. Harrington first played in the Ryder Cup in 1999.

He began playing the PGA tour circuit in 2005. Harrington remained ranked in the top 10 of the World golf rankings throughout most of the 2000s.

Harrington also has three major wins. He won the PGA Championship once and the Open Championship twice. Harrington is still a professional golfer, playing in seniors’ major events. He won the U.S. Senior Open in 2022.


Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke was born in 1968 in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. He played college golf for Wake Forest University. He became a professional golfer in 1990.

Clarke’s last professional win was in 2011 when he won the Open Championship – also his only major victory. Overall, Clarke had 21 tour wins over the course of his career.


Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell was born in 1979. He hails from Portrush, in Northern Ireland.

McDowell became a professional golf player in 2002. He has one major win, the 2010 U.S. Open. He also won 3 PGA tour stops. He has 11 European Tour wins.

As McDowell has joined LIV International, he resigned his PGA membership in 2022, although he remains a professional golfer.


Leona Maguire

Ireland also spawned some of the best women’s golfers in history. Leona Maguire is an up-and-comer, but she’s well on her way to becoming the best of the best.

In 2022, she became the first Irish winner of an LPGA tour event. She also placed in the top four in 2022’s Women’s British Open.

Maguire holds the record for the most time as No. 1 on the list of world women’s amateur golfers.


Olivia Mehaffey

Another of Ireland’s top current women’s golfers is Olivia Mehaffey. She was born in Belfast in 1998.

As an amateur, she was a top-five player in the world rankings. She began playing for Arizona State University in 2016. As an amateur, she played in multiple British Women’s Opens and U.S. Women’s Opens.

She became a professional golfer in 2021. In the short time she’s been playing as a professional so far, she’s already debuted on the LPGA tour.

If you want to cut your teeth on some of the great golf courses in Northern Ireland, why not book a tour going through courses like the Royal Portrush?


May Hezlet

May Hezlet might not have been a professional golfer, but she was a true pioneer of the sport. She was born in 1882 in Gibraltar. She was the youngest winner of the British Ladies Amateur Championship when she won in 1899.

She wrote books about golf to share her love for the sport with others. Hezlet passed away in the 1970s, but her golf-loving legacy lives on to this day.


Christy O’Connor, Sr.

The older Christy O’Connor was born in Galway in 1924. He was one of the first well-known Irish golfers.

His first professional golf win was in 1955, at the Wallow-Penfold Tournament. Since this was the early days of golf, the only major tournament Connor played in that we still have was the Open Championship.

O’Connor passed away in 2016, but his passion for golf lives on in the people he’s inspired to get into the sport.


Rory McIlroy

Of course, one of the best Irish golfers of all time is Rory McIlroy. He was born in 1989. He comes from Hollywood, in Northern Ireland. McIlroy opted to play amateur golf in Europe rather than join an American university team.

He became a professional golfer in 2007, but he wasn’t a phenom right out of the gate. However, he was one of the youngest European Tour affiliate members ever to earn a tour card.

McIlroy broke barriers for Irish golfers in a lot of ways. He’s the only Irish player to have ever ranked No. 1 in the world and has four major wins under his belt. He first won on the PGA tour in 2010, when he was 20 years old. He won the U.S. Open in 2011, his first major win. Continuing his streak, in 2012, he won the PGA championship.

His last major win was the Open Championship, which he won in 2014. McIlroy is still a powerhouse in the world of golf, having won his 4th Harry Vardon Trophy as recently as 2022.


Stephanie Meadow

Meadow was born in 1992 in Jordanstown (Northern Ireland). She played golf on a collegiate level for the University of Alabama. She qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2014, after which she quickly turned professional.

Meadow played in the 2020 Summer Olympics, in which she placed 7th.


The Best Irish Golfers Ever: Now You Know

These Irish golfers are the best of the best, but they aren’t the only great Irish golfers out there. You might even have to get out on the course to come in contact with some truly unknown up-and-comers.

Are you looking to play along with some of the best of the best? Consider booking a golf tour of Ireland today. Royal Portrush and Portstewart are just two of the amazing golf courses you’ll be able to enjoy.