• TypeLinks
  • Holes18
  • ArchitectHarry Colt, Thomas Mitchell Morris
  • Established1889

Royal County Down is the second oldest club in Ireland founded in 1889. It is located in what has to be one of the most naturally beautiful settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve with, the magnificent backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne, in County Down, Northern Ireland.

This naturally stunning links course was first opened as a nine hole in 1889 but later that year was extended to 18 holes by Old Tom Morris and opened for play in 1890. It has underwent some alterations but is relatively untouched from Old Tom Morris’s design, a true test of a great course. This championship course is a par 71, measuring 7,186 yards from the back tees. It has hosted many professional tournaments over the years and holds many accolades, the latest naming Royal County Down as the number 1 course in the British Isles in 2014.

Mother Nature played a large hand in the creation of this course and it encompasses all of the landscapes best features.

Being a true links there are many natural features, from the imposing rolling sand dunes to the gorse. The layout is two lops of nine, with the first nine being closer to the sea, they hug the coastline, rolling and tumbling over the dunes. The holes here are sublime, there is not a disappointing hole on the course, they are varied, interesting and challenging. The first nine holes are simply incredible, probably the best you will see anywhere, the 9th is without a doubt the most picturesque. But the quality just continues as you progress along the course. The finishing holes the 16th to the 18th are real risk and reward shots and provide a great finish to a wonderful course. There are numerous blind haircuts that are just remarkable, we counted six.

Threading through an impressive set of sand dunes is the narrowest fairways you have ever seen. These naturally undulating fairways are enclosed by purple heather and yellow gorse, so beautiful visually but so punishing for those stray shots that veer off course.

The ‘bearded’ bunkers are incredible, they are renowned worldwide, featuring overhanging lips of marram, red fescue and heather and are abundant, they literally litter the course.

Wind is a big contender here on how you will play, it is almost always present but, can vary from a gentle breeze to a gale. This is a true test of any player’s command of the traditional bump and run, the preferred way to play any links. The course benefits from a caddie if only to find those lost balls.

The course is

  • pristine as you would expect,
  • the manicured greens are hard, contoured and small
  • but run lightening fast and true,
  • the rolling fairways are firm and
  • nothing more needs to be said about the rough or bunkering.

The finest of all links courses, it offers a stern challenge from the championship tee. From the stableford tees it offers golfers of all standards the opportunity of playing. Accuracy is the name of the game, as there is little room for error, any errors are severely punished. it is a tough beauty, however, all that aside it is a fun and inspiring course that will mostly certainly leave you wanting to play again, an awesome experience.

If you have a bucket list of golf courses to play Royal County Down should be your number one, not least because it is a truly great course but also because of the dramatic panorama of the surrounding mountains and coastline, simply breath-taking.