Trip idea: Golf in the north of Ireland

Royal County Down Golf Club

Tee up on incredible world-class golf courses in the north of Ireland

The north of Ireland is home to golfing champions and some of the most breathtaking and challenging courses in the world. A mix of wild coastal links and luxurious parklands, there's nowhere quite like it. But it's not all about the courses. Golfer Keegan Bradley put it best when he said that "the area is unbelievable and the people are extraordinary". Follow our journey to the rewarding greens dotting the landscape in counties Down, Antrim, Londonderry, Fermanagh and Donegal. It's tee time!

Golf in the north of Ireland

Golf in County Down

County Down is Mourne country, so let the lush forests, imposing mountains and coastal winds be your backdrop on four very different golf courses.


A driving 34 mins
Ardglass Golf Course

Swing by the sea at Ardglass

Before you even begin to tackle Ardglass, take in the views across the Irish Sea: here, the course clings to the coastline, and it's breathtaking. Now get started on Ardglass' new course, which includes three challenging holes designed by former European professional David Jones that rank as some of the best on the island.

If you have more time

Head over to Castle Ward for a different type of challenge. If you're a fan of HBO's Game of Thrones, then take your bow on the archery movie set, cycle the filming trail or even dine out at a banquet in Westeros style.

B driving 41 mins
Royal County Down Golf Course

Golf Digest's World No 1 course: Royal County Down

Royal County Down is one of my favourites,” says Rory McIlroy. “The more you play it, the more you recognise it for the class place it is.” The majestic, savage beauty of Royal County Down makes it a thinking man's links, but even the shrewdest players can be flummoxed by the guile of what is arguably Irish golf's finest course. Peppered with blind tee shots, deep pot bunkers, domed greens and narrow ribbons of hummocky fairways – it is still a pleasure to play. 

If you have more time

Tuck into the best local seafood at the Mourne Seafood Bar in Newcastle, serving super-fresh produce hauled in from local ports. It's simple and delicious.

C driving 30 mins
Warrenpoint Golf Club

Warrenpoint hides a few tricks up its sleeve

Set in the glorious surrounds of Hall Estate, Warrenpoint Golf Club is an 18-hole parkland course that adds up to 6,000 yards of golf. Golfing legend Christy O’Connor Snr won the Irish Professional Championship here in 1960 and 1966, and it is ranked as one of the best parkland courses in Northern Ireland. But don't let its reputation fool you – this is one tricky course that will test even the most seasoned golfer.

If you have more time

Feast at the award-winning Restaurant 23, for a distinctively fresh take on traditional Irish fare.

D
Mourne Mountains

Beyond the golf courses in County Down

Figure out Castlewellan Castle’s Peace Maze to ring the bell at its centre, take a stroll through Tollymore Forest Park – local source of the wooden interiors for the RMS Titanic – or scale the Mourne Mountains for vistas over Newcastle and Murlough Bay.


County Antrim
County Antrim

Golf in County Antrim

Between Belfast and the Glens of Antrim you'll find some of Northern Ireland's award-winning golf courses and the incredible Causeway Coastal Route.

E driving 1 hr 22 mins
Malone Golf Club

Malone – a gem just outside Belfast

Just five miles from Belfast city is Malone Golf Club. Set around a beautiful natural trout lake, this testing championship course is situated on 330 acres of rolling parkland. Beautiful, historic and integral to the Belfast golfing scene, the clubhouse here is a perfect way to wind down, chill out and enjoy the very social side of golf on the island of Ireland.

F driving 46 mins
Galgorm Golf Club

Jacobean splendour at Galgorm

Set in the grounds of a stunning 17th-century estate, the par 72 championship course at Galgorm is bordered by two rivers and is home to the annual Northern Ireland Open. When you're not out swinging, take a wander through the grounds – the castle and the acres of mature parkland deserve to be admired.


If you have more time

Head to the Castle's Eagle Bar & Grill where Chris Bell, former Northern Ireland Chef of the Year and Great British Menu Finalist, serves up traditional hearty meals showcasing the finest local produce.

G driving 44 mins
Ballycastle Golf Club

Ballycastle beauty on the Causeway Coast

Location is everything for Ballycastle, a golfing diamond perched on the edge of one of Europe’s most spectacular coastlines: the Causeway Coast. Boasting towering views out over Fair Head, Rathlin Island and Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre, you have to seriously try to keep your eye on the ball here, while its exposed location and challenging conditions call for real shot making, from punched long irons, little bump and runs to hitting under the wind.


If you have more time

Taste the fruits of the sea with chowder and Guinness in The Central Wine Bar, part of the Ballycastle Food Tour.

H driving 34 mins
Royal Portrush golf course

Royal Portrush, host of The Open 2019

Home course of Graeme McDowell, Royal Portrush is majestic: towering dunes, sweeping valleys and rough so thick only the greats can conquer it – which they will when The Open rolls into town in 2019. There are two courses at Royal Portrush: the famous Dunluce Links; and the Valley Course, situated in the historic War Hollow, where local lore has it that the Chief of Dunluce fought the King of Norway many centuries ago. At Dunluce, be warned: go long with your approach on the sublime 5th, a dogleg 411-yard par 4, and your ball may one day wash ashore on nearby White Rocks Strand.


I
Giant's Causeway

Beyond the golf courses in County Antrim

Take a road trip along one of the world's great journeys: The Causeway Coastal Route. Packing some of the most picturesque places in the world into a stretch of 314km (195 miles), it's an experience worth taking time out for. And the jewel in the route's crown? Definitely the Giant's Causeway, a mind-boggling expanse of perfectly hexagonal stones that form a pathway out to the crashing sea. 

Image courtesy of Caspar Diederik @storytravelers.

County Londonderry
County Londonderry

Golf in County Londonderry

There's more to County Londonderry than its historic walled city. It's got The 2017 Irish Open in its sights at Portstewart, and plenty of courses ready to challenge seasoned golfers. 

J driving 22 mins
Portstewart golf course

Portstewart Golf Club and The Irish Open 2017

Any course on a patch of ground called “Thistly Hollow” must have a few prickly surprises up its sleeve, and Portstewart doesn’t disappoint – the course weaves through towering dunes and stunning links land, with something for every golfer. No wonder Rory McIlroy called it a hidden gem!

If you have more time

Visit Morelli's on The Promenade for award-winning ice cream, or feast on delicious seafood at Harry's Shack, dramatically located at the very edge of Portstewart strand.

K driving 26 mins
Castlerock golf course

Take on the Leg o' Mutton at Castlerock

By the time you strike the first ball on Castlerock’s championship course you’ve entered uncharted waters. On this par 73 with five par fives, the most talked-about challenge is the nerve-jangling Leg o’ Mutton, the 200-yard 4th with a railway line to the right, a stream (called a “burn” in this part of the world) to the left, and raised green in the distance. The “Leg” plays tough even without the wind – are you up for the challenge?

If you have more time

Wander up to the Temple of Vesta – the beautiful Mussenden Temple overlooking Downhill Strand.

L driving 28 mins
Roe Park Golf Resort

Luxury and charm at Roe Park

Lough Foyle and the Inishowen Peninsula provide the backdrop to Roe Park Golf and Spa Resort, which boasts an 18-hole parkland course on its historic riverside estate. The house is a great base to explore the area, complete with beautiful accommodation and an Elemis spa for off-course luxury. The course itself won Golf in Ireland's "Best Golf Resort in Ulster" award in 2016.


M
The walls of Derry~Londonderry

Beyond the golf courses in County Londonderry

Derry~Londonderry is an incredible sight, surrounded by walls that have protected the city since building began 401 years ago, back when King James I required defences to keep the newly planted population safe from besieging Irish rebels. Stroll the walls, visit the Guildhall, take a tour and cross the Peace Bridge. And if you're hungry, head to Quay West for delicious, tasty food in cosy surroundings. Trust us, it's worth taking your time here. 


County Fermanagh
County Fermanagh

Golf in County Fermanagh

Fermanagh's lakelands make for a sometimes hazardous golfing trip – prepare to lose a few balls to the water! 

N driving 12 mins
Lough Erne resort

The ultimate 36-hole experience at Lough Erne

Just 10 minutes from the historic town of Enniskillen is the Lough Erne Resort, a golfing destination par excellence. Described by Rory McIlroy as “a great place to stay, a great place to play", the Faldo Championship Course is designed by six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo, stretching over 600 acres of green, while the Championship Castle Hume Course is famous for its pristine fairways – and for hosting the Ulster PGA Championships for over 10 years! Maybe take up the challenge with one of its team of dedicated PGA professionals, where help with tricky shots will always be at hand.

if you have more time

The onsite 3 AA Rosette-winning Catalina Restaurant is a delicious end to a day of golfing, with food lovingly prepared by acclaimed Executive Head Chef Noel McMeel and his team.

O
Fermanagh Lakelands

Beyond the golf course in County Fermanagh

For six months of the year, there are lakes in Fermanagh...for the rest, Fermanagh is in the lakes. This waterworld, therefore, has more aquatic activities on offer than you can shake a canoe at. Take a cruise, go angling with a ghillie or visit one of the finest show caves in Europe, the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, which were formed around 330 million years ago. Or stay over ground with a wander around the beautiful 18th-century house, Florence Court.

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