Golf in Northern Ireland: Five courses you must play

Royal County Down
Royal County Down
The first hole at Royal County Down.
By Premier Golf

Series: Travel Feature

Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | 11:47 a.m.

Golf in Northern Ireland exceeds all expectations with its fantastic courses and unforgettable sightseeing opportunities. In recent years, native sons Rory Mcilroy and Graeme McDowell have greatly increased the popularity of this beautiful part of Ireland.

If you’re planning a golf trip to Northern Ireland, put these five courses at the top of your must play list.

Royal Portrush Dunluce

Graeme McDowell’s home club is truly magnificent with its rolling fairways, birthday cake greens and stunning ocean views. The club itself couldn’t be more welcoming and proud to have visitors play their course. This place is so awesome, the Open Championship will be held here in 2019. If you have an opportunity to play another round, don’t forget about the “hidden gem”, the Valley Links course.

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Royal County Down

After playing this celebrated layout, you’ll remember why you love the game of golf so much. Royal County Down, tucked behind a beautiful white clubhouse and large grassy dunes, has an almost perfect design and it requires the player to have creativity, skill and focus. It’s a great round of golf you’ll recall long after you’ve landed back in the U.S.

Ballyliffin Glashedy

Built on a stunning piece of land neighboring the Old Course, the Ballyliffin Glashedy may have some of the largest dunes you’ll ever see on a golf course. Five of the holes run along the ocean offering spectacular views, but also strong winds making it tough to finish your round. Don’t forget to play the Old Course, which is built on undulating natural terrain. 

Portstewart Strand Course

Known as the Jewel in Portstewart’s crown, the Strand course is a phenomenal and thorough test of golf. Massive dunes, pool table fast greens and menacing rough dominate this championship course experience. There is an atmosphere of simplicity at Portstewart, which can be appreciated by all who visit. If you desire more links golf, play the Riverside or Old Course at Portstewart for your round in the afternoon.


This place oozes with old world charm. It’s one of the most unique golf courses you’ll ever play and by many reports has the “oldest clubhouse in the world”. Your first tee ball requires a short shot over a collection of jagged rocks in the ocean. Behind you is the “clubhouse” that looks more like a castle with a group of cannons in the front lawn. The overall experience is memorable with an overriding historical ambiance. This golf course is naturally beautiful and could definitely be one of your favorite rounds of golf in Northern Ireland. 

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