ROYAL COUNTY DOWN
Royal County Down is located in one of the world’s most naturally beautiful links settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve. Against the magnificent backdrop of the the Mountains of Mourne, the links stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay, zigzagging back and fourth to provide a different vista from virtually every hole.
The narrowest ribbons of fairways are surrounded by purple heather and golden gorse, so beautiful to look at but so punishing for any who may stray from the prescribed path. The ‘bearded’ bunkers are world famous and feature over hanging lips of marram, red fescue and heather. The greens are fast and many are domed, rejecting any shot lacking conviction. This is a true test of any player’s command of the traditional bump and run, the preferred way to play links.
The ninth hole is the most photographed holes in world golf. A 486 yard par 4, it is played from one side of a huge mound down to a fairway some 60ft below and 260 yards from the tee. From the bottom of the slope the second shot is played over two bunkers to a raised green. The finest of all links courses, it offers a stern challenge from the championship tees. The record is 66 set by Ireland’s first golfing superstar, Jimmy Burren, in 1939.
ARDGLASS GOLF CLUB
Ardglass Golf Club is well known for extending a warm welcome to its visitors who come from all parts of the world. Many of them make a point of playing Ardglass while visiting Royal County Down at Newcastle or Royal Portrush on the North Coast. At the clubhouse, parts of which date back to the 13th century, we have a fully stocked Pro-shop, an excellent restaurant, and of course Guinness on tap, as well as numerous other beverages for you to enjoy !!! We do hope you come and visit our course and we don’t believe you will be disappointed.
Castlerock Golf Club, is a classic links course set amid towering dunes. Situated on the Causeway coast and only a 20 minute drive from both Royal Portrush Golf Club and Portstewart Golf Club, Castlerock is a more than worthy neighbour to both of these great Irish links.
Founded in April 1901, the original course comprised nine holes and was laid out on the western part of the present course. Additional land was leased in 1908 and Ben Sayers, the professional from North Berwick in Scotland, was commissioned to design an eighteen hole layout. Though better known as a club maker, Sayers produced a superb layout and insisted that the links of Castlerock would equal those at Troon, North Berwick and Sandwich. Though not officially recorded, it is known that Harry Colt, while spending much time in Ireland with his work at Royal Portrush, was consulted regarding the redesign of the Castlerock links around 1930. Today, Castlerock is rated as one of Ireland’s finest links courses and its status in the game is reflected by the fact that it has hosted many National Championships both Amateur and Professional.
Royal Portrush is a golf club of momentous stature. Situated near the most northerly point of Ireland, it consists of two championship golf courses. The views across the North Atlantic of both Scotland and Donegal are glorious, but the golf really is the highlight here. It has regularly hosted the Irish Open, most recently in 2012, when Ryder Cup star Jamie Donaldson emerged triumphant.
The better known course is the Dunluce Links, which has been ranked as no.12 golf course in the world by Golf Magazine in recent times. You would be hard pressed to find rough that is more challenging than here, nor one that will punish careless tee shots so hard. Find the fairway and you will find the greens, but therein lies another test of your skills. The greens are as hard to judge as anywhere, but with the right kind of eyes you may find what you need.
The Valley Links is what you might expect. Played in between looming dunes, the rough is no easier here. The back-to-back feature holes present a real test of your skills. The 336 yard par four fifth sounds short, but the green is littered with dunes and bunkers on three sides for protection. Follow that up with a 237 yard par three into a partially unsighted green, and you will have had a real test of your mettle.
The stature of Royal Portrush continues to rise, and it is in no small part thanks to its local major winners, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke. They have been a big part of the lobbying process to bring the British Open Major Championship back, having been played there in 1951. The Championship seems set to return there in 2019, which will be a momentous occasion. An Irish golfing holiday would seem incomplete without a trip around its most prominent course.
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