Northern Ireland is home to some of the finest golf courses in the world and is considered a premier destination for those planning a first-class golfing vacation.
All Square has planned the perfect itinerary which includes the world famous golf courses of Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, Portstewart, and excellent nearby accommodation. Let us take you on the golfing trip of a lifetime.
Suggested arrival airport: Belfast International Airport
1. Royal County Down
Royal County Down Golf Club, in the small seaside town of Newcastle in County Down, is less than a two hours’ drive south from Belfast International Airport.
The golf course
The stunning Championship Course is rated as the second best course in the UK by All Square, and the sixth best in the world – and it’s easy to see why. Next to the dramatic Mountains of Mourne, with rolling sand dune-lined fairways adorned with blooming gorse and heather, it’s almost unmatched in links beauty. Rory McIlroy is a frequent visitor and the Walker Cup and the Curtis Cup have been played here. A standout among the many unforgettable holes is the 9th, which starts with a drive, framed by hills and a church steeple. It’s one of the most photographed holes in world golf. At 7,200 yards from the back tees, the par-71 layout is a tough challenge, especially when the wind blows. Visitors can also play the easier Annesley Course. A par-66 course and just 4,681 yards in length, it’s a fantastic introduction to links golf.
Slieve Donard Resort & Spa: Located right next to the golf course, this resort is set in immaculate grounds in a majestic Victorian-era building. It boasts 180 luxurious bedrooms, including Executive and Resort rooms and six magnificent Suites. The world class spa is worth the trip alone. Room prices start at €135 per night.
Cherryhill Lodge: Just a two-minute drive from the golf club, this is a smart, modern offering with B&B and self-catering options. Room prices start at €90 per night.
2. Royal Portrush
Royal Portrush in the seaside town of Portrush in County Antrim is a two to three hours’ drive from Royal County Down.
The golf courses
The 36-hole club has two links courses: the Dunluce Links (the championship course) and the Valley Links. The former hosted The Open in 2019 and is rated by All Square as the UK’s fifth best course and the 15th best in the world. It was lengthened to 7,317 yards for The Open and underwent various changes that underlined its world class status. The standout hole is undoubtedly the 236-yard, par-3 16th, the so-called Calamity Corner, known as one of the world’s finest short holes for the accuracy required to make the carry to the diminutive target. This incredible course climbs its way up, down and around some enormous sand dunes with serene views down the glorious Antrim coast. Visitors can also play the Valley Links. Critically acclaimed by visitors and golf writers from across the world, no visit to Royal Portrush is complete without playing these 18 holes as well.
The Bushmills Inn: Just ten minutes away from Royal Portrush, this boutique hotel offers unique rooms and modern facilities and has been lovingly restored to pay homage to its rich Irish history. Room prices start at around €140 per night.
Portrush Atlantic Hotel: In the centre of town and just a mile from Royal Portrush is this smart hotel with an excellent international restaurant. Room prices start at around €65 per night.
3. Portstewart Golf Club
After playing at Royal Portrush, you can drive just minutes to Portstewart Golf Club in County Londonderry.
The golf courses
The club consists of three 18-hole courses: the par-72 Strand Course (the championship course), the par-68 Riverside Course and the par-64 Old Course. The Strand is the standout course and hosted the Irish Open in 2017. Dubbed as ‘The Sleeping Giant’, it is without doubt one of the very top true links golf courses in the whole of Ireland. Highlights include the phenomenal front nine, one of the best in golf, starting with the excellent dogleg-right opener. The two par-3s at three and six are also two excellent holes. The shorter Riverside, alongside the picturesque banks of the River Bann, is a challenging intermediate layout, while the even shorter Old Course offers something a little less challenging for all the family or for the casual player.
As Portstewart is so close to Portrush, you can play both venues and stay at the same accommodation.
Added extras: Ardglass, Castlerock & Ballycastle
Ardglass is just a 30 minutes’ drive from Royal County Down and is rated by All Square as the 8th best course in Northern Ireland. The par-3 2nd, the par-5 11th and the par 3 12th each require a carry across the coastline and cliffs tops of the Irish Sea and rank among the best holes in Ireland. It also has a stunning 14th century club house. Castlerock is just a 20 minutes’ drive from Portstewart and the Mussenden Course there is rated by All Square as the fifth best in Northern Ireland. Some golfers even rate it higher than Royal County Down. It’s that good. There is also a nine holer, the 2,446-yard Bann course, played across dunes. Ballycastle Golf Club is another gem of the Causeway Coast. Only 25 minutes from Portrush, club offers 18 holes of links and parkland golf.
Dreaming to have a golf trip to Northern Ireland with your friends? Let us know the details: