Golf in Northern Ireland

Royal Portrush

“We have some of the finest golf courses in the world here," says Darren Clarke. And you're invited, so let's play!

How can such a small place create such incredible champions? The secret is this: it's easy to learn to play golf in Northern Ireland. Just ask Graeme McDowell. His home town of Portrush has two clubs – the world-famous Royal Portrush, and the smaller Rathmore golf course. The latter is his home turf and it was here his father trained him in the art of golf. 

I love being from Northern Ireland, and I never get tired of telling people how great it is


One of the world's top golfers, Rory McIlroy, was introduced to the sport in Northern Ireland at the tender age of two, and he could soon hit the ball 40 yards. McIlroy then became the youngest member of Holywood Golf Club in County Down at the age of eight – and the rest, as they say, is history!

Golf stars

Royal Portrush Golf Club is a County Antrim beauty that stands proudly on a rocky promontory, edging out into the Atlantic. Those who know it sing its praises, including Rory McIlroy. He hails its Dunluce course as “among my favourite places to play in Northern Ireland, and one of the truly great links".

Royal County Down – the more you play it, the more you recognise it for the class place it is.

Graeme McDowell on Royal County Down

If you’re looking for an excuse to play these links – not only was Royal Portrush the host of The 148th Open in 2019, but Royal County Down has also been named by Golf Digest as the World Number 1 course outside the US – then whiskey could be the answer. That's because they've been distilling Old Bushmills just four miles down the road for hundreds of years. So when you’ve packed away your clubs on the 18th, make sure you make time for the 19th hole and a splash of the good stuff!

But Portrush isn't Northern Ireland's only heavy hitter. The Irish Open rocked into Portstewart in 2017, and according to Rory McIlroy, Portstewart Golf Links is “one of Northern Ireland's hidden gems". With three 18-hole golf courses along rocky shorelines, gorgeous strands and flowing rivers, it's no wonder it was chosen to host the event.

No license required

You don’t need to be a member to play our courses. All you have to do is find somewhere great, book your tee time and turn up – or choose an operator to arrange it all for you. Either way, it's easy to play golf in Northern Ireland!

Northern Ireland’s golfing passion has been around a long, long time, and there are so many courses that you can play here, with over 30 accredited with a Golf Quality and Assurance Award.

During the summer, days are long – it’s light at 6.30am and doesn’t get dark until after 10pm, so you have plenty of playing time. Smart casual is the way to dress, and some of the more traditional clubs like a jacket and tie when using the dining room, so we recommend that you check in advance. Many clubs have a soft spikes policy, and be sure to bring your club certificate with you when you visit. Happy golfing!

Check out these 19 things you NEED to know before golfing on the island of Ireland!

Time to tee up

Getting here

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