Golf in Northern Ireland

The Home of Champions

It's Northern Ireland, and you're invited...

By none other than Tyrone-man, Darren Clarke: “We have some of the finest golf courses in the world here. And we’re a very welcoming little country. The more people who get to play here the better.”

Are you ready to play in Northern Ireland?

Heroes of Northern Ireland

Introducing World Number One Rory McIlory, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell

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

How can such a small country create such incredible champions? Easy: everyone can play golf in Northern Ireland. For G-Mac, his home-town of Portrush has two clubs – the world-famous Royal Portrush, and the smaller, less celebrated Rathmore. Rathmore, he says, taught him everything he knew. Clarke, who founded the Darren Clarke Golf School in Antrim to develop junior golf in Ireland, walked the fairways of Dungannon – where his father was greenkeeper. And McIlroy, introduced to golf at the age of two, could soon hit the ball 40 yards and became the youngest member of Holywood Golf Club at the age of eight!

Time to play: the 19th hole
“There are great tests, great views, great hospitality, and all that you would want to get from a great day of golf”

More than just the game

If you’re looking for an excuse to play the Dunluce links at Royal Portrush – other than it being consistently ranked amongst the best courses in the world – then whiskey could be the answer. That's because they've been distilling Old Bushmills just four miles down the road for the last 400 years. Okay, some 19th holes may not be as engrained in history, but the warmth of spirit is always present. So when you’ve packed away your clubs on the 18th, make sure you make time for the 19th hole.

Royal Portush and the Open 2019

Former Irish Open venue and hopeful future venue for The Open 2019, Harry Colt-designed Royal Portrush stands proudly on a rocky promonotory edging out into the Atlantic. Those who know it sing its praises, including World Number One Rory McIlroy. He hails its Dunluce course as “among my favourite places to play in Northern Ireland, and one of the truly great links.” Keep watch at the par-three 14th Calamity Corner. At 210 yards from the championship tee, it requires a long carry over a deep ravine. Anything drifting right will end up scuttling down a steep precipice onto the Valley Course below.

The Irish Open 2015 and 2017

Jack Nicklaus couldn't conquer it and neither could Tom Watson: Royal County Down is a thinking man's links, and even the shrewdest players have been flummoxed by the guile of this course. So come The Irish Open in 2015, Royal County Down is set to test more than just their stamina. Then in 2017, the Lough Erne Golf Resort opens its Lakeland fairways for The Irish Open – this time, it’s the water hazards that’ll challenge the professionals. Are you ready to book those tickets now?

The big hitters

  • Royal Portrush, County Antrim: "Royal Portrush would be a great first international major." PGA of America president Ted Bishop on plans to take the US PGA Championship overseas from 2020.
  • Royal County Down, County Down: “Royal County Down is my all-time favourite!” exclaimed PGA Tour player Rickie Fowler.
  • Lough Erne Resort, County Fermanagh: Voted Golf Resort of the Year, there are two championship courses here designed by none other than Sir Nick Faldo! And if you get hungry, you can always stop at the Halfway House on the 9th hole for a bite to eat…
  • Castlerock, County Derry-Londonderry: With its fabulous links setting, David Brice of Golf International Inc says, "Miss this beauty and you're missing a treat."
  • Galgorm Castle, County Antrim: Home of the Northern Ireland Open, golfer Nick Dougherty exclaims, "The whole set-up and conditioning is worthy of the European Tour."

The Hidden gems

  • Warrenpoint Golf Course, County Down: The perfect parkland where Christy O’Connor Snr won the Irish Professional Championship in both 1960 and 1966.
  • Royal Belfast, County Antrim: Steeped in history, this parkland gem celebrated its first 18-hole competition all the way back in 1881.
  • Ardglass Golf Club, County Down: Another one with history – this time it’s the Clubhouse. It’s built on the remains of a fortified warehouse erected circa 1400AD. And with history comes a fair amount of ghost stories.
  • Portstewart, County Derry-Londonderry: This classic links has championship pedigree written all over it, as well as being part of the three-course Great North Links Challenge competition.
  • Roe Park Resort, County Derry-Londonderry: If ever a course was immersed in history, this parkland beats them all: Mullagh Hill, at its centre, dates back to 575AD, when the High King of Ireland called his earls, chieftains and scholars to a convention there.
Access all areas
No licence required

And you don’t need to be a member to play our courses, either. All you have to do is find the courses, book your tee time and turn up – or choose an operator to arrange it all for you. Either way, everyone can play golf in Northern Ireland!

Inside information

  • Northern Ireland’s golfing passion has been around a long, long time, and there are over 90 courses you can play. Over 30 of these have been accredited with a Golf Quality and Assurance Award.
  • During 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 good to check in advance.
  • Many clubs have a soft spikes policy, and be sure to bring your club certificate with you when you visit.