Trip idea: Golfing along the Causeway Coastal Route

Portstewart Golf Course, County Londonderry

Lonely Planet named this route Best in Travel 2018 – now's your chance to take a swing at it!

For many people, there's no better way to experience the beauty of the Causeway Coastal Route than cruising along cliffside roads as spectacular views appear around each bend. But for golfers, this splendid drive is something even better: a world-class way to travel from one award-winning course to another and even test your skill at Royal Portrush – host to The 148th Open in 2019. Whatever your handicap, we know one thing for sure: golfing on the Causeway Coastal Route is anything but a swing and a miss.

Golf your way along the Causeway Coastal Route

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Perfect your golf swing

Start your trip in County Londonderry, where you'll be challenged by parkland and links courses and delighted by the Walled City of Derry~Londonderry.

A driving 23 mins
Roe Park Resort

Adventure at Roe Park

Set against the backdrop of the glassy Lough Foyle, Roe Park is a little bit of excellence to kick off your very own golf tour. An elegant 18-hole parkland course, its first-class clubhouse and facilities are no less striking, with a hi-tech Indoor Academy, 18-bay driving range and putting green – meaning that no matter your level, there's something here to cater to your needs. Grab an hour with resident PGA Professional, Michael McRudden and as well as upping your game, you can glean some tips about Royal Portrush, where he worked for five years, before you make your way there.

B driving 47 mins
Castlerock Golf Club

We will Castlerock you!

Don't make the mistake of rushing past Castlerock in favour of its more famous neighbours: this course is a gem in Northern Ireland's golfing crown. The natural topography of the area does the hard work here, with Castlerock's Bann and Mussenden courses appearing to undulate organically between the river and the ocean. What results is a 27-hole layout that's a dream to play. David Brice of Golf International Inc. agrees with us, cautioning, "Miss this beauty and you are missing a treat." Consider yourself warned!

If you have more time

Mussenden Temple, a library built in 1785 as a replica of the Temple of Vesta in Italy, is today a unique wedding venue – and a showstopping photo location.

The Guildhall, Derry-Londonderry

The wonderful walled city

If these walls could talk, they'd never shut up about Derry~Londonderry's reputation for good food and drink. From the authentic and trendy restaurant scene, starring Primrose Bistro, The Sooty Olive and Browns in Town to the quirky brews on offer at the Walled City Brewery, you won't go hungry (or thirsty) on these streets. But it's not all about your appetite: sprawling along the banks of the River Foyle, this is a pristinely preserved city, rich in living history and blessed with unforgettable amenities, attractions and architecture. Locals are particularly proud of the beautiful Victorian Guildhall and symbolic Peace Bridge; while sampling the vibrant nightlife is the ideal way to perk up your mood if you didn't play the best round on the course!

If you have more time

Take a guided tour of the city walls: at over 400 years old, they still look like they could protect the city from a medieval siege.

The Big Hitters

The golfing gods blessed the Causeway Coastal Route with courses so maddeningly beautiful that they're sure to thrill true golfing enthusiasts.

D driving 13 mins
Portstewart Golf Club

Take your pick of pleasures at Portstewart

Along with its neighbour, Portrush, Portstewart regularly ranks among the top links courses in the world. Its 54 holes are unrivalled and the course boasts what many consider to be the best opening hole on the island. With three courses – Strand (par 72), Riverside (par 68) and Old (par 64) – cliff and sea views, along with the steady flow of the River Bann to the west, Portstewart has something for everyone. It's also one of the clubs with the proudest tradition of Ladies' Golf in Northern Ireland: as well as hosting the British Ladies Senior Championship in 2004 and the 2006 British Girls Amateur Championship, Portstewart is the club of celebrated pro golfer and broadcaster, Maureen Madill.

E driving 21 mins
Royal Portrush Golf Club

Purist's perfection at Royal Portrush

Ranked #6 in the Top 100 Links Courses in Britain and Ireland 2017, Royal Portrush is many a golfer's dream course: 36 holes, two links courses and 129 years of expertise and international acclaim. This is where Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell play in their spare time – and where they and countless other pros grace the greens in Championship season. The Valley course is par 70, while the Dunluce course is par 72; only two players managed to break 70 on the Dunluce during the 1951 Open. The club hosted The Open for the second time in 2019, where Shane Lowry won his first major championship as a pro. 

If you have more time

Stop off at Koko in Portrush for great coffee and even better seaside views. Or try Bothy where you can indulge in fabulous homemade scones while looking out over Whitepark Bay.

Harry's Shack, County Antrim

Feast your eyes

If you have time for a tipple after a long day spent on the course, you won't regret making your way to Bushmills, the island's oldest working distillery. Whiskey has been distilled right here since 1608, when King James I first gave the go ahead – and in the last 400 years, it's safe to say they've perfected the craft. From here, Ballintoy, the picturesque harbour of Game of Thrones® fame, is just a short distance away, perfect for a quick photo op. But the one place not to miss is Harry's Shack, the humble restaurant sitting quite literally on Portstewart Strand: you won't find better, fresher fish anywhere in the world. Dig in.

Don't miss

You simply can't make your way to this part of the island without visiting Dunluce Castle, the enchanting, ruined castle with a dramatic history, which has been clinging to the North Antrim cliffs since the 16th century.

Take it easy on these greens

Discover some hidden golfing gems and finish up your epic golf adventure in the gloriously lush Glens of Antrim.

G driving 15 mins
Gracehill House Golf Course

Grace and beauty

Surrounded by rich countryside, Gracehill House Golf Course is 18 holes of bucolic bliss. Designed by Frank Ainsworth, this 72-par course rolls between woodland and quiet parkland and is one of County Antrim's hidden highlights. Although an inland course, water is an obvious feature, with streams and lakes peppering Gracehill's 210 acres – so be prepared for a challenging game, particularly on the par three 14th hole!

Don't miss

A stone's throw away is the Dark Hedges, where centuries-old beech trees arch above the road, locking together to create a breathtaking, picture-perfect avenue. The road can get busy with Game of Thrones® fans on a Kingsroad pilgrimage, so your best bet for a quiet stroll on this pedestrian-only stretch is to visit here on a weekday.

H driving 17 mins
Ballycastle Golf Club

Bring your A-game to Ballycastle

From the seaside location to the rich history, beautiful Ballycastle is something truly special to behold. While the modern clubhouse and 18 holes are a safe bet for anyone who loves the game – built in 1890, the course was perfected in the 1920s and has remained largely unchanged since – Ballycastle is far more than the sum of its parts.
15th-century Bonamargy Friary sits silently within the grounds, housing the remains of the Black Nun: a prophetess and recluse buried here in the 1600s. Though the site is said to be haunted, it's worth a visit for the quiet elegance of its architecture alone. And if you should come away with a story, well, all the better...


The Gateway to the Glens

As you're on the road, make the most of the drive and take the scenic route via Cushendun: a picturesque seaside village built as a living love letter from Lord Cushendun to his wife, Maud. This place, with its Cornish-style cottages and quiet harbour, feels a little like it's frozen in time, in the best way; stop off at The Corner House on Main Street for a cosy afternoon tea and drink in the sweet surroundings. There's no better way to end this spectacular journey than with the glorious Glens of Antrim spread at your feet. Immortalised in song as a "true fairy land", you won't be long discovering why, once the road opens up to these nine green glens, complete with castles, beaches and the fields where St Patrick himself once tended sheep.

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