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Best Golf Courses in Northern Ireland

from the experts in Golf Holidays

✍️ Sam Brooks | ⏰ 7 min read

Royal Portrush Golf Club 2

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Northern Ireland Golf Courses

Everyone wants to play the best golf courses and Northern Ireland is lucky to be the home to some of the best in the world.

There's often a battle for the top spot between Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, both offer superb links tracks filled with history, impeccable condition and a test for all levels of golfer. But these aren't the only courses to consider when planning a golf trip to Northern Ireland.

The whole area is blessed with rolling sand dunes, stunning views and incredible golf, so be sure to check out the likes of Ardglass, Lough Erne or head inland for a few gems that definitely should make it onto your to-play list.

Read on to discover the courses our experts have played and consider the best in Northern Ireland or check out some of the best golf holiday deals in Northern Ireland >>

Lough Erne Resort | Review with Mark Crossfield & Coach Lockey

Royal County Down

Ranked 1st on Golf Digest's biennial 'World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses' list in 2016 and again in 2018, Royal County Down Golf Club needs little introduction. The golf course is nestled in the Murlough Nature Reserve, flanked by the breathtaking Mountains of Mourne and running along Dundrum Bay, is considered by many to be the most strikingly beautiful golf course in the world.

Don’t let the beauty of Royal County Down fool you, the course is a true test of golf, narrow fairways and ‘bearded bunkers’ demand excellent control of the golf ball.

More info on Royal County Down >>

Royal County Down facts
Location Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
Length 7,186 yards
Par 71
Designed by George L. Ballie, Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Harry Colt
Established 1890
Hosted Irish Open 4 times (1928, 1935, 1939, 2015)
Where to stay Belfast

"There probably isn't a golf course that tests you as much off the tee as Royal County Down. Each shot requires perfect execution to open up your approach."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Royal Portrush - Dunluce Links

Royal Portrush remains the only golf club outside of mainland Britain to ever host The Open Championship, an honour that was bestowed upon it once again as the world’s elite golfers did battle on the rough links terrain in The Open in 2019.

The already tough track will present a fresh challenge to amateurs and pros alike, as two new holes have been added in for the most exciting major of the year, potentially making an already great course even greater.

More info on Royal Portrush >>

Royal Portrush Dunluce Links facts
Location Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Length 7,143 yards
Par 72
Designed by Harry Colt
Established 1888
Where to stay Portrush & Derry

"Some of the best links views anywhere in the world. A very playable course if you drive it well and somewhere I'd recommend to all, such a great stretch of golf with great apres golf at Ramore in the Harbour."
Tom (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 6)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Tom about playing this course.

Portstewart Golf Club (Strand Course)

Huge sand dunes and panoramic views await you at Portstewart. The origins of golf here date back to 1894 although it is believed the game was played on the site from 1880.

Since then, there have been many course updates, and the fairways you walk today are a beautiful blend of both the old and new course. Easily found in the Top 100 Courses in Northern Ireland and host of the Irish Open in 2017, Portstewart is a must-play.

More info on Portstewart Golf Club >>

Portstewart Golf Club facts
Location Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Length 7,118 yards
Par 72
Designed by Willie Park, Des Giffin
Established 1894
Hosted Irish Open 2017
Where to stay Portrush & Derry

"An elevated tee, a dog leg left to right, with the sea crashing in the backdrop. It is dramatic."
Rob (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 16)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rob about playing this course.

Castlerock Golf Club - (Mussenden Course)

We are big fans of a Harry Colt designed course at Your Golf Travel. He is known as being one of the world's best golf course architects, known for his work at the likes Sunningdale in England, Pine Valley in the USA and more recently Royal Portrush, host of the 2019 Open.

But he created a few lesser known gems too - such as the stunning Castlerock. Be prepared for the wind to play a big part here making it one of the toughest links' in Northern Ireland.

More info on Castlerock Golf Club >>

Castlerock Golf Club facts
Location Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Length 6,780 yards
Par 73
Designed by Ben Sayers, Harry Colt, Martin Hawtree
Established 1901
Where to stay Portrush & Derry

"Castlerock was stunning - it's a bit more gentle than it's two neighbours except for when the wind picks up."
Rob (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 16)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rob about playing this course.

Lough Erne - (Faldo Course)

Prior to being known as Lough Erne, golf here consisted of the only the Castle Hume course. But following a huge regeneration with a championship course designed by Nick Faldo, Lough Erne was established and is now one of the best resorts in Northern Ireland.

It is a picturesque parkland site which offers challenging golf, especially when playing from the back tees which measure over 7000 yards on the Faldo course.

More info on Lough Erne >>

Lough Erne Faldo Course facts
Location Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
Length 7,167 yards
Par 72
Designed by Nick Faldo
Established 2009
Where to stay Lough Erne Resort

"This was the first course I played in Northern Ireland and what an introduction it was. There's the opportunity to send it down the long drive holes and show off your accuracy on the short par 3's, all of which are extremely memorable."
Rick (Marketing: Handicap 12)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rick about playing this course.

Malone Golf Club

Malone Golf Club is somewhat of hidden gem in Northern Ireland and yet is one of the best parkland courses. Originally an 18 hole course, the Lady Captain Peggy Valentine added a further 9 holes to create what is now an outstanding 27 hole layout.

Having hosted the Irish Senior Masters (where Gary Player claimed victory) as well as many other tournaments including where Tony Jacklin won his first professional tournament, it is a surprise this venue isn't better known.

More info on Malone Golf Club >>

Malone Golf Club facts
Location Belfast, Northern Ireland
Length 6,689 yards
Par 71
Designed by John Harris, Fred Hawtree
Established 1895
Hosted Irish Open 1933
Where to stay Belfast

"Undulating, tree lined fairways with every hole layout really well thought about. My tip here - don't miss this course off your Northern Ireland list"
Rob (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 16)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Rob about playing this course.

Ardglass Golf Club

Tee off over the cliff top and soak in the magnificent views at Ardglass, a stunning links course with a castle as their clubhouse. Just a few miles along the coast from Royal County Down, a round here is not to be missed.

If you love a track with lots of character, you'll find it here combined with plenty of pot bunkers and true, fast greens. Rugged and picturesque - Ardglass is definitely a contender to move higher up the rankings in the Top 100 courses.

More info on Ardglass Golf Club >>

Ardglass Golf Club facts
Location County Down, Northern Ireland
Length 6,268 yards
Par 70
Designed by Thomas MacAfee, David Jones
Established 1896
Where to stay Belfast

"It's location for one is outstanding, perched upon a cliff making a few tee shots very memorable, attempting to land them over the drop below."
Paul (UK & Ireland Team: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Paul about playing this course.

Royal Belfast Golf Club

Imagine falling in love with golf so much on a trip to St Andrews, that you decide to build your own course. That is exactly how Royal Belfast came about.

One of only 4 'Royal' courses in Ireland which was originally established by Thomas Sinclair with more recent design by the esteemed architect Harry Colt, you're in for a treat when you step foot on the first tee here. The attention to detail and course condition is pure, absolutely not to be missed.

More info on Royal Belfast Golf Club >>

Royal Belfast Golf Club facts
Location Holywood, Northern Ireland
Length 6,306 yards
Par 70
Designed by Harry Colt, Mackenzie & Ebert
Established 1881
Where to stay Belfast

"Despite not being overly long, it is still a test thanks to the quick greens, dog legs and a few lengthy uphill par 4s."
Gabby (Marketing: Handicap 26)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Gabby about playing this course.

Belvoir Park Golf Club

A fantastic parkland layout just south of Belfast city centre described as 'a course affording an excellent test and at the same time, one that will give maximum pleasure to golfers' by the very man who designed it, the renowned Harry Colt.

His design has stood the test of time, with the original course still in play barely altered over the 90 odd years it has been open. Before you head to the coast to play the superb links courses mentioned above, get a round in here.

More info on Belvoir Park Golf Club >>

Belvoir Park Golf Club facts
Location Belfast, Northern Ireland
Length 6,471 yards
Par 71
Designed by Harry Colt
Established 1927
Where to stay Belfast

"Each hole is meticulously crafted and are satisfying to play - especially the collection of par 3s."
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Oliver about playing this course.

Galgorm Castle Golf Club

A stunning inland parkland course set in the Galgorm Castle Estate brimming with history, tradition and a cracking gin menu. Home of the ISPS Handa World Invitational and having hosted the Irish Open in 2020, the championship course can definitely prove a test of your golf skills, but tee it forward and a much more manageable track is yours.

The greens here are lightning quick though so be prepared, and celebrate a fantastic day of golf in the vibrant Castle Kitchen + Bar or the indoor-outdoor oasis of the Castle Barn.

More info on Galgorm Castle Golf Club >>

Galgorm Castle Golf Club facts
Location Ballymena, Northern Ireland
Length 7,276 yards
Par 72
Designed by Simon Gidman
Established 1997
Hosted Irish Open 2020
Where to stay Belfast or Derry

"The location is stunning too with the river Braid and river Main running alongside the fairways and occasionally come into play in front of the green."
Oliver (Marketing: Handicap 1)

Call 0800 043 6644 to speak to Oliver about playing this course.

More About Sam

Handicap: 4
Favourite Course: Old Head
My 'Expert' areas: St Andrews or Dublin
Best trip I've done: St Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns & Dumbarnie Links
Where my next trip is to: Augusta to watch The Masters with my Dad

Give Sam a call on 0800 043 6644 to arrange your next golf break.

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