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Royal County Down
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Royal County Down Golf Club

Northern Ireland

The pride of Northern Ireland golf, Royal County Down Golf Course is an Ireland must-play. It tops many prestigious lists as the best course in Great Britain and Ireland – if not the world. Founded in 1889, the current course has two nine-hole loops that finish at the clubhouse, with a design that has been influenced by some of the greatest golf architects of all time.

Royal County Down Golf Course is infamous as one of the only true championship links with multiple deliberate blind shots, and has hosted a variety of amateur and professional events. It is also a favorite of many professionals – including Rory McIlroy, Tom Watson, and Tiger Woods – and a popular destination on our spectacular Northern Ireland Golf Tour.

Course Details

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World Top 10 Golf Course
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No.1 Golf Course in the UK
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Range of tees from 6,249 – 7,186 yards
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Ideal Location for a Northern Ireland Golf Tour
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Designers include Old Tom Morris, James Braid & Harry Colt
Royal County Down coastline, Northern Ireland

Royal County Down & Annesley Links

The original 9-hole course at Royal County Down was laid out by George Ballie. Old Tom Morris made the trek to inspect and advise on the proposed second nine and was paid 4 guineas for his efforts. The most notable input to the course was during the years between 1900-1913 until Harry Colt arrived in 1925.

Colt’s contributions included enhancements to the 9th hole with its views over the fairways to the Mourne Mountains, rivaling the 7th at Pebble Beach as the most photographed hole in golf. Usually a deterrent to hosting championships, Royal County Down wouldn’t be Royal County Down without them, and the Club has played host venue to a variety of key amateur events and a smattering of professional ones.

Royal County Down’s second course, Annesley Links, was barely acknowledged even by many Irish golfers until recently. The firm of Tom Mackenzie and Martin Ebert has done wonders in bringing the course to its true potential on the landscape. 

The course always played hide and seek among the dunes of the Championship course but suffered from a mundane start. The flat opening landscape has been transformed into a much-needed practice range and the course received three new holes further out in the dunes. While it is still very short by modern standards at just over 4,500 yards, its six par 3’s would be at home on any championship links and it combines to make a perfect 36-hole day on any Northern Ireland golf trip.

Bernard Darwin summed up a day on the links at Royal County Down as, “…the kind of golf that people play in their most ecstatic dreams.”

However, with the reputation of the Championship course, any visitor tee time at Royal County Down is at a premium and usually sells out more than a year in advance, so plan accordingly so as to not be disappointed and have your golf dreams come true.

3 Days in Northern Ireland with Darren Clarke


royal couty down
Panoramic view of Royal Portrush

Take a Northern Ireland Golf Tour

Northern Ireland is a golfing utopia. With breathtaking views, rolling countryside, and around 100 courses across the small country, it is often considered the go-to destination for a luxury golf vacation.

6 nights accommodation and 6 rounds of golf

Prices starting from $4,750

Fairway at Royal County Down

Royal County Down is an Ireland Must Play

Ireland has evolved into a fantastic golf destination with some amazing golf courses, expanding fine dining options and engaging accommodations.

For many golfers, though, Royal County Down is the absolute must play in Ireland. Stunningly photogenic and challenging, the course is set on natural dune-land at the foothills of the Mountains of Mourne in Newcastle, about 30 miles south of Belfast.

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Royal County Down FAQs

Royal County Down is known for being a challenging golf course, particularly when faced with windy conditions. The course is renowned for its difficulty, testing the skills and strategy of even the most experienced golfers.

The closest airport to Royal County Down is Belfast Airport, which offers a transfer time of approximately 1 hour to reach the golf course. Alternatively, if you are traveling from the United States, you can fly directly to Dublin Airport and then make a transfer of approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Royal County Down. Both options provide convenient access to the golf course, allowing you to enjoy your golfing experience without extensive travel times.

To get to Royal County Down from Dublin, you can take a transfer that typically takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes. This allows you to conveniently travel from Dublin to the prestigious Royal County Down golf course for your game.

Royal County Down features two 18-hole links courses; the Championship Links and the Annesley Links. Both courses offer unique and challenging golfing experiences, showcasing the stunning natural landscape and providing golfers with memorable rounds at this renowned golf destination.

Royal County Down Golf Club has proudly hosted prestigious tournaments such as the Walker Cup and the Amateur Championship. These events showcase the club’s esteemed reputation and its ability to provide a memorable setting for top-level golf competitions.