Scrabo Scrabo There are few courses on the island of Ireland that can claim to be as wild and adventurous as Scrabo. The 1st hole is the sort of introduction to strike fear and awe into the hearts of the most resilient golfer. The hole rises through banks of dense gorse to a small green sitting beside Scrabo Tower. It is Index 1. The tower dominates the skyline for the entire round, as well as miles around. This is a golfing journey like no other as holes streak across firm, tight, rugged fairways. They buckle over the terrain with sheer exuberance and careless abandon, following a flow dictated by the natural hillside. Scrabo may lack the finesse and pedigree of plush parklands but the holes here – some blind, many unique, all fun – deliver such entertainment value that they will absorb all of your golfing adrenaline. Endless views. Shandon Park A par 70 it may be, but this is fine parkland golf tucked away in quiet suburbia. You might think it is flat when you first arrive and this is one of Shandon Park’s strengths, for it delivers lots of the unexpected. There is considerably more movement to the course than that first impression gives. Indeed, there are substantial changes in elevation and these have been employed brilliantly to create some glorious green settings and driving opportunities. Shandon Park is a perfectly paced round of golf that satisfies all golfing abilities. 148 Royal Belfast The drive towards the clubhouse will tell you all you need to know about this venerable old parkland. It is an elegant and spacious tree- lined course which tumbles slowly down to the shores of Belfast Lough. Three of the best holes lie almost on the shoreline. This is a course of class and quality, and the clubhouse – a grand former manor house – sets the tone. Everything is spacious and dignified. It all looks so very attractive to the eye but some of the slopes will fool you for this is a challenging par 70, and a tough driving course. There are five par threes – the pick being the daunting straight uphill 11th. Lisburn Lisburn Golf Club dates back to the 1880s, but the current course was designed by Fred Hawtree, and opened in 1973. This beautiful course follows a classic parkland script to the letter. Big embracing trees flow over a combination of flat, lilting and hilly terrain, with colourful shrubs adding an extra layer to proceedings. Pristine conditioning, strong hole variety, water features and excellent greens… they all combine to make Lisburn the full package. The par three 6th is a dainty par three in a wooded setting: with a lake in front of the green it is the signature hole, but the closing stretch of five holes covers the highest ground and promises a stunning finish.