Home Golf Travel Test drive Northern Ireland’s fabulous fairways

Test drive Northern Ireland’s fabulous fairways

With over 90 exceptional golf courses within this small region, Northern Ireland ranks as one of the world’s top golfing destinations.

Northern Ireland boasts some of the world’s most challenging golf courses, shaped by its undulating landscape and rugged coastline and perfected by the designs of master golfers. And with so many in such a small area, it’s easy to include a few or more of the top courses in even a short break.

Top of the list must be the big two: Royal County Down and Royal Portrush.

Voted the number one course in the world for three years in a row, Royal County Down is sandwiched between the magnificent Mourne Mountains and the shores of Dundrum Bay. The Championship Links has hosted many classic tournaments featuring top players and will welcome the Irish Open in 2024.

Royal Portrush, sitting on the spectacular Causeway Coast, is considered one of the world’s most challenging courses and certainly affords some of the best views. The club hosted the 148th Open in 2019 and the Dunluce Links will again be the setting for The Open in 2025.

Further along the Causeway Coast is Portstewart golf course, a testing links with towering sand dunes. Along with Royal County Down and Belvoir Park course in Belfast, the club was included in the Top 100: Best Sustainable Golf Courses in Europe for ensuring that sand banks are made accessible for nesting sand martins helping them stay safe from predators.

Considered a hidden gem of the north coast, Castlerock links has many fans including actor Michael Douglas. A co-host of the 2023 ISPS HANDA World Invitational, it’s famous for the demanding Leg of Mutton 4th hole which tees off over a winding stream to a raised green.

The other co-host for the 2023 World Invitational was Galgorm Castle, one of the region’s top parklands and a regular tournament venue. It is set in the historic Galgorm Estate, which also has a golfing academy that is a centre of excellence.

Hilton Templepatrick is one of Northern Ireland’s more recent courses but it has already established itself as a top parkland course. Created by leading course designers David Feherty and David Jones, it has over 7000 yards of challenging fairways and greens interspersed with lakes and mature parkland.

On the other hand, dating from 1881 Royal Belfast is Ireland’s oldest golf club. The charming links layout overlooks Belfast Lough and was chosen by Padraig Harrington as one of his top 30 courses.

And over in the beautiful Fermanagh lake lands the championship Faldo course at Lough Erne Resort,designed by six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo, combines outstanding scenery with holes that will test and delight players of all abilities.