Out & About: Northern Ireland
Home to glacial valleys, beautiful mountains and the number one ranked course in the world, explore all that Northern Ireland has to offer...
Home to one of the top five ranked courses in the world (Royal County Down) and the ever-popular Royal Portrush, host venue of The 148th Open, Northern Ireland’s seat amongst the best-golfing destinations worldwide leaves little in question.
Known for its Norman castles, glacial valleys and copious mountain ranges, the story and evolution of the nation shines through in its appearance. A blend of sightseeing, quality links courses and diverse accommodations make for a completely personalised stay… one you won’t forget any time soon!
Where to stay
Located on the outskirts of Portrush, a personal favourite of ours is the Bushmills Inn, we honestly cannot say enough about this 4-star accommodation that has previously been awarded the top accommodation in the whole of Northern Ireland. Blending quaint and comfortable with classy and elegant, the exposed beams, earthy tones, and roaring peat fires welcome vacations with warmth and tranquillity that’ll set the mood for the duration of your stay.
For something more lively, the Europa Hotel, situated in Belfast city centre, will exceed any expectation. Built on the grounds of the Great Northern Railway Station is the 4-star bed and breakfast, which boasts spacious and stylish en-suite bedrooms. The common areas and individually decorated rooms date back to 1971 but have been renovated to provide modern yet authentic fixtures and furnishings. As well as its central location in the city, the Europa Hotel is only a short transfer away from playing the likes of Royal Belfast and Ardglass Golf Club.
Where to play
The two Royals, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, are absolute musts in any trip to Northern Ireland. Royal County Down, situated on the Murlough Nature Reserve, overlooks the Mountains of Mourne and weaves back and forth along the shores of Dundrum Bay. The natural links landscape utilizes 'bearded' bunkers, heather and red fescue and dome-shaped greens that test a player’s command of every club in his or her bag.
Some ninety miles north-west is the setting of the 2019 British Open, the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Stretching to over 7300 yards from the championship tees, the towering dunes, native gorse, and undulating grounds meander seamlessly along the beach below to offer an experience as beautiful as it is engaging. Ranked in the top 20 in the world rankings, the 36-hole venue is the only course outside Great Britain to host the Open Championship.
Quite common is a trip that blends the championship courses and the hidden gems, and no two hidden gems deserve more recognition than Ardglass Golf Club and Castlerock Golf Club. Slightly different in style and feel, Ardglass Golf Club, which resides humbly in a fishing port, features an opening stretch of five holes that hug the rugged coastline. Dramatic elevation changes and the rocky coastline offer unbeatable views, while the quaint clubhouse detracts minimally from your links experience.
Castlerock Golf Club, often overshadowed by Royal Portrush and Portstewart, lies at the mouth of the River Bann where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. A roaring sea breeze is customary when teeing it up here, wreaking havoc in your club selection and commitment, while a variety of blind shots and gradual elevation changes test your game further.
Where to eat
Though the quintessential town of Portrush has a plethora of restaurants to choose from, Och8 Tapas Bistro was perfect for a relaxing meal. With succulent options and an array of wines and local beers to choose from, it’s easy to see why this contemporary Mediterranean establishment ranks first in restaurants in Portrush.
For something possessing more of a local charm, look no further than the restaurant on-site at the Bushmills Inn. Using traditional roots and local produce wherever possible, every dish is cooked to order exactly how you’d like it.
Things to see & do
An afternoon traversing Giant’s Causeway should not be missed. Known as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom, the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns are a result of an ancient volcanic eruption. For the fans of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, look no further than Northern Ireland for your sightseeing escapades.
Visiting the various locations scattered across Co. Antrim, Co. Fermanagh, and Co. Down offer opportunities to witness first-hand the battlefields, forests, and the beaches the show utilizes to captivate its audience.
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist - UK & Ireland
Senior Golf Vacation Specialist, I help golfers find their ideal golfing getaway