Destination Golf Ireland 2018 * - Page 151

Moyola Park Moyola Park Moyola Park remains one of Ireland’s best kept secrets. This is a grand parkland experience of rivers, ancient woodland, a tree- drenched hill and fun holes. It is rich and colourful, and the trees dominate and define holes as they move serenely over the undulating terrain. The centre of the course is the densely wooded hill and holes are practically drawn to it, with the par four 8th requiring an approach shot over the River Moyola to reach it. The walk over the bridge is enchanting. On the far side of the hill, giant oak stand like sentinels across the landscape, wreaking havoc on the wayward golfer, before the 16th brings you back to the hill. The par three 17th is the hole of the round as you hit out from a tree- enshrined tee to a green far below, wrapped in trees with the river flowing behind. Bangor James Braid designed Bangor in the 1930s. Since then the trees have established themselves in great armies of colour, making Bangor one of the sweetest parklands in Northern Ireland. And it remains unknown outside the country. Given the quality (the Braid design has been left intact), the adventure and the big, fast greens that is a shame. There is one hill that rises in the middle of the course to create two levels – one high, one low. This hill and the rolling terrain create so many exceptional driving holes here it will warm the heart, whatever the Irish weather chooses to throw at you. The 5th and 16th are the pick as they use the hillside to full effect. The 16th drives at sea and distant hills. Kilkeel An estate parkland at the foot of the Mourne Mountains is always going to set pulses racing, but it is the woodland of oak and beech through which you play for much of the round that really grabs your attention. The trees will grab your ball, too, so you need to negotiate holes carefully as there are many doglegs. It may not be a long course (par 72, 6,250 yards) but it calls for intelligent golf, especially on several blind holes. Green and tee settings use the rolling landscape and trees to full and often dramatic effect. Holes 6 and 7 are sensational. Holywood As the home club of Rory McIlroy, Holywood definitely deserves a visit. Forget the bells and whistles of plush parklands… come and enjoy a course that not only has ‘celebrity’ on its side, but also a host of fun holes which inject the joy back into playing golf. With its short length and two loops of nine it is easy to play quickly. It will hone your short game, too. This is hillside golf with ridges and dips, perched greens, a couple of climbs, bumpy terrain and plenty of trees. As such, this is no place to go wild off the tee. Sensible golf (and a visit inside the clubhouse) makes Holywood a very enjoyable day indeed. 149