Golf in Ireland - Northern Ireland Articles
Boasting what can only be described as some of the finest golf courses in Europe, Northern Ireland is every inch the mesmerising golf region you expect it to be.
Indeed, Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and Royal Belfast are all monumental tests of golf and provide for a quite exhilarating links golf experience, and there are plenty more top-class links for you to add to your list.
But, this being a common theme with golf across the water, there is great variety in Northern Ireland, just one of many reasons why Ireland is a recent winner of ‘Established Golf Destination of the Year’ award.
Royal County Down revels in a sensational setting, nestling amidst the views of Dundrum Bay with the awe-inspiring Mountains of Mourne all around. The Old Tom Morris design – it has been improved by various architects through the years – sits roughly 30 miles to the north of Northern Ireland’s capital city Belfast, and is characterised by beautiful swarms of heather and gorse, with huge dunes bordering narrow fairways. It really has to be seen, or rather played, to be believed.
Likewise, Portrush displays the same tight fairways and bounding dunes, but some say it is even more fearsome a test to the untrained visitor. This ‘magnificent beast’ is famous for its incredibly small greens and lack of bunkers and is a must play venue for your Irish trip.
Nearby you will want to take in the links at Portstewart, which has three courses, and Castlerock. Both are reputed examinations of links golf and well worth the green fee.
But we did stress earlier that Northern Ireland was renowned for its great variety, didn’t we? Well, the inland venues at Ballyclare, Cairndhu and Malone are great examples of that. Cairndhu, some four miles north of Larne, is one of the best parklands on the island and is a personal favourite of Darren Clarke. Malone, near Belfast, is perfect for a quick city break and is a former host of the Irish Amateur Championship while Ballyclare, in County Antrim, has all the ingredients for a top-class parkland venue and is equipped with USGA specification greens. Also worth looking up in Antrim is Whitehead, an attractive, undulating parkland course and one of the oldest in the country.
Belfast is filled with golfing opportunity and it would be a shame if you missed out on a round at Ormeau, a tidy venue that is northing less than an absolute gem. Others to consider within short driving distance of the city are Belvoir Park and Royal Belfast, the latter with the distinction of being the oldest golf club in Ireland. The likes of Bangor, Mount Ober and Radisson Roe Park won’t disappoint, either.
If you are keen to add a little sightseeing to your adventure, then Giant’s Causeway on the Causeway Coast (near Royal Portrush) and the coastal holiday resort of Bangor are just the ticket. Belfast, of course, is suitably equipped to keep you entertained and there are plenty of accommodation options in the city and in the region as a whole. Northern Ireland is a golf destination of the highest order where, undoubtedly, you will rediscover the joys of golf.