Northern Ireland Regional Overview

 Read up about the nation's top golf courses or listen to Kevin Markham, a golf author who has played every course in Ireland. He discusses The Open Championship coming to Northern Ireland and much more...


royal county down

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom but has an identity and a charm all of its own. It is a beautiful country and, in Belfast, it has a vibrant capital city that is now attracting increasing numbers of visitors from all over the world.

It is a popular destination for Americans, which is hardly surprising - it is from here, after all, that thousands upon thousands of their ancestors boarded ships to cross the Atlantic in search of a new life and the American Dream. Presidents, actors and pop stars alike flock to Northern Ireland to track down long-lost relatives. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, even Barrack Obama, all claim to have Irish blood in their veins. 

And anybody from across the pond who decides to visit Northern Ireland can be absolutely certain of a very warm welcome. Just ensure that your constitution is in good shape because the chances are that you will be expected to consume sizable amounts of alcohol during any trip here. 

The economy is booming as tourists flock to Northern Ireland to take in the breathtaking scenery, the rugged landscape, the hills and loughs (lakes) and to spend time with people who are among the friendliest on earth. 

And there is another very good reason for getting there soon: in 2019, The Open Championship will be staged at the magnificent Royal Portrush Golf Club. You can be sure that after this magnificent links has been seen on hundreds of millions of television screens around the world that the clamor to play it will reach fever pitch. 

It is estimated that The Open will generate an extra £70m for the local economy. When it was announced that Royal Portrush would host the 2019 Open, Peter Robinson, the First Minister, said: “This is wonderful news, not only for Royal Portrush Golf Club, but for the whole of Northern Ireland. The decision to bring The Open back to Northern Ireland is a tremendous vote of confidence in the game here and follows the huge success of the Irish Open in 2012, the first in European Tour history to sell out. The R&A’s decision to invite Portrush to join The Open rota is a ringing endorsement of Northern Ireland and I know we will deliver an event that we can all be proud of.” 

It is just reward for the achievements of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, who are all proud Northern Irishmen. McDowell was actually a member at Portrush. 

So why not beat the crowds and consider a golfing holiday in Northern Ireland before that huge demand happens? Northern Ireland is split into four counties and Royal Portrush is located in County Antrim, where you will also find many other glorious golf courses. 

Then there is the village of Ardglasswith its castles and tower houses it retains much of its medieval glory, and one of the castles has been adapted as the clubhouse at Ardglass Golf Club. Times have changed for Ardglass in the past 1,000 years. It was an important port with a natural harbor that was used by the followers of William the Conqueror, long before the city of Belfast existed, to import silks, wines and other luxury goods. King John, of Magna Carta fame, is reputed to have stayed in an area close to the original castle when in Ireland andalthough badly worn by the ravages of time, a 13th-century stone crest from the traders of the City of London remains in the building. It is claimed that the clubhouse at Ardglass, parts of which also date back to the 13th century, is haunted. 

Discover my reviews of the top courses that make up my unforgettable signature tour to Northern Ireland:

If you are interested in adding any of these course as part of your bespoke golf vacation to Northern Ireland contact one of travel experts TOLL FREE on 1-855-699-5853.

Derek Clements

Derek Clements

Derek Clements is a golf journalist - he has covered many Open Championships and European Tour events, as well as The Masters. Born in Glasgow, he writes for The Sunday Times and Golfshake, and has also written for Today's Golfer, the Daily Mail, Swing by Swing and many other golf websites, magazines and newspapers. He has played golf all over the world and numbers Gleneagles, Kingsbarns and Aldeburgh as his three favourite golf courses in the United Kingdom. He lives in Suffolk, is a member of Waldringfield Golf Club and has a handicap of nine. He had lessons from the late Bob Torrance and has worked with Jean-Jacques Rivet, one of the world's leading golf biomechanists.