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UK & Ireland: Northern Ireland


belfast BEYOND


World-class golf with buckets of history to match, Northern Ireland continues to impress. Duncan Forgan investigates


They say that good things come in small packages and that’s certainly the case with golf in Northern Ireland. Somewhat overlooked in comparison with its southern neighbour and Scotland, the country offers a host of stunning layouts. One of Northern Ireland’s most telling plus-points is its


miniature dimensions. They make it simple to strike out from its capital, Belfast, to even the most remote-seeming golfing destination. Belfast’s advanced far enough from its history of political


tumult to stake its claim as one of Britain’s great cities. Atractions such as Crumlin Road Gaol and SS Nomadic offer manna for history buffs, while the city’s vibrant waterfront area is lined with buzzing bars and restaurants. South of Belfast is the veritable mecca of Newcastle,


home to the Royal County Down Golf Club. The club is set against the splendour of the Mourne Mountains, which slope down dramatically to meet the Irish Sea. (They make for amazing hiking.) Then there is the Royal Portrush Golf Club in County


Antrim, from where you can visit Giant’s Causeway, an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Bushmills, home to the famous whiskey of the same name, is also nearby. Renowned for its links courses, Northern Ireland boasts excellent parkland options, too — such as Belvoir Park and Malone near Belfast. There is also the reasonably priced Hollywood Golf Club. Set in the hills overlooking Belfast Lough, it is the home course of former world number one Rory McIlroy.


Titanic Quarter


Royal County Down The majestic mountains of Mourne provide a fittingly epic backdrop to one of the best links courses in the UK. Particularly notable is the opening nine, regarded as one of the top stretches in golf. Highlights include the 4th, a long par-3, and the 9th, a picturesque par-4 played from an elevated tee. Green fee: £185-£200. royalcountydown.org


Royal Portrush Host of the only British Open to be held outside the mainland, the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush is a gem of a links layout. Although beautiful, the layout is hugely exacting. Look out for the 5th, a downhill par-4 with a green perched 50ſt above the seashore, and the 14th a long par-3. Green fee: £180. royalportrushgolfclub.com


Lough Erne In a country famed for its coastal tests, the Faldo course at Lough Erne stands out. Built over heavily wooded terrain on a beautiful estate, the layout offers visual thrills as well as seriously testing holes like the par-4 10th, which plays to a green jutting out into the water. Green fee: £85-£95. loughernegolfresort.com


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