It’s just over a week since Northern Ireland golfer and World Number 3, Rory McIlroy, won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the K Club, County Kildare and with excitement still in the air after his victorious win, Tourism Northern Ireland is encouraging golf enthusiasts to explore some of the leading golf courses that are available all around NI.
The European Tour fixture will be held in Northern Ireland in 2017 and it is clear that NI is home to some of the best professional golfers in the world as well as excellent courses and exciting events. The success of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke has drawn golfers’ attention worldwide to Northern Ireland’s superb Golf Links and Parkland courses and Tourism NI is encouraging golfers to come and play some of these courses for themselves.
Tourism NI Communications and PR Officer (NI) Rachel Quigg highlighted “We have over 90 golf courses across Northern Ireland. Of these, two are amongst the best-quality in the world – Royal County Down and Royal Portrush. With stunning views and fiendishly tricky greens, we are encouraging visitors to play their own ultimate round at one of our superb links and parkland courses on a golf break this summer”.
Tourism Northern Ireland has picked their top five courses that are a must to visit for any golf enthusiast:
ROYAL COUNTY DOWN
Royal County Down Golf Club is located in the beautiful Murlough Nature Reserve and set against the magnificent backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne. With narrow ribbons surrounded by purple heather and golden gorse, and the world famous ‘bearded’ bunkers which feature over hanging lips of marram, red fescue and heather, it is often described as one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world.
Play: Weekday mornings and Sunday afternoon
Stay: The 4* Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle stands in six acres of immaculate private grounds. A golden strand of beach borders one side while the mighty Royal County Down Golf Links frames the other.
Lough Erne Resort is home to two Championship Golf Courses – The Faldo Course, designed by six-time Major Champion Sir Nick Faldo, and Castle Hume Golf Course. The resort is set on a private 600 acre peninsula between Lower Lough Erne and Castle Hume Lough. Lough Erne resort gained worldwide recognition when it hosted the 2013 G8 summit.
The Faldo Championship Course (7,167 yards Par 72) is an exciting challenge for golfers of all abilities, featuring 18 spectacular golf holes. Situated between Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne, 14 of the holes have water in play, highlighted by the iconic 10th Hole, ‘Emerald Isle’ where the green is surrounded on three sides by water.
Play: Any day. For those looking to perfect their swing visit The Faldo Academy for a Golf Lesson with Lynn McCool, Head Professional.
Stay: Golfers can take some time out at the 5* Lough Erne Hotel & Spa with stunning views over Lower Lough Erne in the island town of Enniskillen Co. Fermanagh.
Founded in 1888, the legendary Royal Portrush Golf Club has two Championship Courses – the renowned Dunluce Course and the smaller but equally enjoyable Valley Course. Both command impressive views across the North Atlantic with breathtaking views of Scotland and Donegal but the golf is even more spectacular. Unimaginable rough and testing greens, combined with the unpredictable weather of the roaring North Atlantic make the Dunluce Course an admirable test for even the most seasoned golf aficionado. The greens are scattered among huge sand dunes gently raised above the Antrim Coast providing vistas of sea, cliffs and islands. Is it any wonder that Golf World magazine regularly rates Portrush in the world’s top twenty golf courses?
Play: After 2pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday (Dunluce Course)
Stay: The 3* Portrush Atlantic Hotel is just 1 mile from the esteemed golf course overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Portrush is a favourite seaside resort destination, offering a multitude of attractions and activities, from grand historic castles to excellent restaurants and pubs.
PORTSTEWART GOLF COURSE
Situated on Northern Ireland’s magnificent Causeway Coast, Portstewart Golf Club presents a difficult but fair game. The Strand Course is indisputably the jewel in Portstewart’s crown for both quality of game and scenery. The course is set in classic links country amid towering sand dunes with views at every turn of the Donegal hills, the Atlantic and the River Bann.
For something a little less challenging, the Riverside Course stretches from the clubhouse down to the River Bann. And if you like a little heritage in your game, the original Old Course situated at the eastern end of Portstewart along the rocky shore, has tested players since 1889.
Play: Weekday afternoons
Stay: The 3* Bayview Hotel sits proudly in one of Northern Ireland’s most stunning settings, overlooking the ever changing Atlantic Ocean in the picturesque harbour village of Portballintrae, on the famous North Antrim Coast Road.
Malone Golf Club is one of Ireland’s best parkland courses – it was founded in 1895 and has been part of the sporting and social landscape in Belfast since its inception. It is located 5 miles south of Belfast, in the lower Lagan Valley at Ballydrain. The course gently rolls through 330 acres of immaculately maintained parkland along the River Lagan and the facilities include 27 holes of golf, three practice areas, a short game area, putting green and a lawn bowling green.
Stay: The 4* Ramada Plaza Belfast is situated in the picturesque surroundings of Lagan Valley Regional Park and located near Shaws Bridge which is an excellent base for outdoor activity and scenic walks.
GOLF EVENTS NOT TO BE MISSED
Belfast Parkland International Golf Tournament (3 July – 9 July)
The most prestigious five courses within the Belfast area, Malone Golf Club, Royal Belfast Golf Club, Holywood Golf Club, Belvoir Park Golf Club and Shandon Park Golf Club have come together to offer this unique parkland international golf tournament. The tournament will start with an opening reception and a gala prize-giving ceremony on the final day for visitors and competitors and is open to both male and female golfers.
Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle (27 July – 31 July)
A golf tournament for all the family; the Northern Ireland Open is Northern Ireland’s annual professional golf tournament held at the stunning Galgorm Castle in Co. Antrim. The NI Open is part of the European Challenge Tour’s international schedule. Away from the fairways, tournament week will be buzzing with activity, especially at the dedicated food festival, which this year will become part of the main golf village and serving up a range of culinary delights in Northern Ireland’s Year of Food & Drink. The NI Open is free to enter and tickets can be secured by registering online at www.niopen.golf
For more information on golf breaks to Northern Ireland or log on towww.discovernorthernireland.com/golfing and book your short break today.