Glasson Coollattin Arboretum golf, pure and simple. Set in an old estate, Coollattin’s trees are as varied and colourful – and ever-present – as on any course you’ll find in Ireland. It is a magical setting and holes weave through it all to give you the full exhibition. They threaten constantly off the tee and if you can avoid an errant shot into the woods you are doing extremely well. The greens and their surrounds are tricky, no doubt a defence against the fairly short length of this par 72 course, and there are some deceptive slopes to fairways which will frustrate even the best. It is pretty and enchanting but it can also sucker-punch you in a heartbeat. Coollattin is famous for its 120 yard 5th hole tucked away in a walled garden. Dunmurry Springs Dunmurry Springs opened in 2005. Holes stretch over a hillside and down to the clubhouse, where more level terrain is drenched by water features. It is a lovely mix and the recent re-routing has kept climbs to a minimum. It is also maturing well with trees structuring holes and stunning green complexes providing vibrant targets. Views fall across seven counties from the top of the course and from here there are some glorious tee shots over the mountain backdrops. It is not a long course (par 71, 6,068 yards, white tees) but that doesn’t mean it won’t fool you… you need to think strategically to score well. 46 Glasson Glasson’s driveway glides above the course’s best holes as they drift down to the edge of Killenure Bay… and one of the most stunning par threes in Ireland. To reach the tee you must cross the lake’s edge via a wooden walkway… before playing a tee shot over the lake itself. It is all carry. The hotel at the end of the driveway offers a mighty fine golfing package, too. Indeed, it is designed very much with golfers in mind. The expansive golf course was designed by Christy O’Connor Jr and opened in 1993. It sits between Lough Ree and Killenure Bay, and water is always in view. Glasson’s great strengths come from its swaying landscape and strong variety of holes, as evidenced by the par threes and the five par fives. Headfort (Old) Headfort’s Old course opened in 1928, stretching elegantly across the bucolic Headfort Estate. It impressed golfers for years. When the exceptional New course arrived in 2000, the shorter Old took a back seat… yet this is pure parkland golf with swathes of mature trees providing tremendous character to holes. Many tower over tee boxes and form intimidating backdrops. It is a charming par 72, with the gentle undulations promising nice views of the hole and tempting targets off the tee. There are no climbs and, combined with the rhythm of the trees, golf here is peaceful and easy. That’s not to say the course itself is easy. Even though there is no water there are subtle doglegs everywhere and that means trees will prove a nightmare if you stray offline. Then there are the small greens which can only be attacked if you are on the fairways.