Destination Golf Ireland 2018 * - Page 10

Ardglass Golf Club. The Glashedy Links at Ballyliffin heads into the tallest dunes. Aerial shot of the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush (Pic: Royal Portrush). Some courses are timeless classics laid out by legendary designers such as Old Tom Morris where golf has been played since the late1800s, whilst others are relatively recent creations that still look as though they have been part of the landscape since then. Finding your way to these links is all part of the experience - driving through wild landscapes of brooding mountains and eerie peat moors, past boulder-strewn rivers and ancient castles perched on windswept headlands. The roads, sometimes twisting and narrow, can take longer than expected to navigate. You may make a few wrong turns along the way or get stuck behind a tractor, but it’s time well spent in anticipation. Adding to the golfing experience are the locals you meet at the courses, who have a tremendous gift of making you feel welcome. And let’s not forget the wonderful clubhouse bars to enjoy some hearty soup and sandwiches, or sink a pint of Guinness while discussing the day’s round. What follows is a trip around the coast of the Emerald Isle (starting from Dublin and heading north) to visit ten top links... Ardglass Golf Club - County Down. This spectacular old-style links and clifftop gem hugs a rugged headland on the County Down coastline, offering sea views from every hole. The course begins with a bang where a line of cannons point the way to the green of the par-4 1st followed by the daunting par-3 2nd, both requiring a carry across the coastline or cliff tops of the Irish Sea. Holes 11 and 12 (the Amen corner of Ardglass) are particularly 8 The Old Links at Ballyliffin. exciting, set across from Coney Island made famous by Van Morrison, and on clear days you can see past the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. The par-3 12th is arguably the course’s signature hole drawing comparisons with the famous 17th hole at Pebble Beach. The view from the elevated tee, with a backdrop of the Irish Sea and the majesty of the brooding Mourne Mountains is worth the green fee alone. Ardglass is home of the world’s oldest clubhouse dating back to 1405AD. Royal Portrush Golf Club - County Antrim. As Royal Portrush Golf Club first comes into view round a curve in the County Antrim Coast Road, it’s a magical sight with its green fairways hiding among shaggy-topped dunes and the great headland of Inishowen contrasting vividly with the low line of the Skerries and the sea beyond. Established in May 1888 and included in every list of the world’s top 20 courses, Royal Portrush’s Dunluce course has long been regarded as a great test of a golfer’s skill. It hosted the British Open in 1951, when England’s eccentric Max Faulkner lifted the trophy, and the great news is that in 2019, it will be home once again to the prestigious championship. There are plenty of great holes at Royal Portrush, but it’s really difficult to choose just one. On the front nine, the 5th with its cliffside green is a worthy contender, but on the back it’s got to be the 16th known as Calamity Corner. This testing 210 yards par-3 calls for a long carry over an 80-foot ravine to reach the green. Don’t be ashamed of taking a four here- threes are as rare as an unfriendly Irishman.