Northern Ireland trip planning: which golf courses to play and a County Down dilemma
My father, uncle, cousin and me are booked to play, in order, Castlerock, both Ballyliffin courses, Portstewart and Royal Portrush. Unfortunately, Royal County Down says they are booked the entire time of our stay, so I have not yet booked Ardglass and am trying to decide a substitute for County Down (unless you know of any subtle way we could squeeze on). You wrote highly of the Valley course at Portrush but what about the Annesley Links at County Down as we’d like to play Ardglass? Others? Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.
I think two days at Ballyliffin is a good idea. Both courses are equally spectacular and remote, and it’s so far out of the way that once you get there, you won’t want to leave immediately.
Although I didn’t make it to Portstewart, I’m repeatedly told its front nine is among the best links around.
It’s a true shame that County Down is booked solid, though that’s not out of the ordinary. It’s one of the Isles’ most popular courses. All I can suggest is calling back from time to time to see if there have been any cancellations, or perhaps checking in with some golf packagers, like StAndrewsLuxuryGolf.com, EireGolfTours.com or LondonGolfTours.com to see if they have any last minute tee times they haven’t sold. Many of these high-end packagers are usually given a block of tee times to sell.
County Down’s Annesley Course isn’t exactly the kind of course worth traveling to play, as many of its holes are on pretty unremarkable links land, though you will be able to catch a few glimpses of the Big Daddy. Portrush’s Valley Course is superior to it, more of a championship pedigree on more interesting links land. Portrush is also a wonderful little town, worth an extra day there.
Ardglass however is better than both the Valley Course and RCD’s Annesley Links. An added bonus, the A2 Coastal Route, which you can take from Portrush down to Newcastle, is one of the most scenic drives around. I would suggest just because you can’t play Royal County Down, doesn’t mean you should skip out on it, especially with the added bonus of a pleasant coastal drive.
From here you are also close to Belfast (about an hour’s drive) if you feel like a night out on the town or some sight-seeing.
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My golf group go to Ireland or Scotland every year to play. We play Ballyliffin most years and agree with Brandon that it is a wonderful place.
Hope you have a great trip.