Out and About: Northern Ireland
Home to the number one ranked course in the world, the only venue not in Great Britain to host the British Open, and four major champions, Northern Ireland’s seat amongst the best golfing destinations worldwide leaves little in question. Known for its Norman castles, glacial valleys, copious mountain ranges, and both political and religious monuments, the story and evolution of the nation shines through in its appearance. A blend of sightseeing, quality links courses, and diverse accommodations make for completely personalized stay… One you won’t soon forget!
Where to stay
A personal favorite of mine was the Bushmills Inn, and I honestly cannot say enough about the 4-star accommodation that has recently been awarded the top accommodation in the whole of Northern Ireland. Blending quaint and comfortable with classy and elegant, the exposed beams, earthy tones, and roaring peat fires welcome vacations with a warmth and tranquility that’ll set the mood for the duration of your stay.
For something a bit smaller and even more intimate, the Shola Coach House, situated there in Portrush as well, will far exceed any expectation. Set on lovely grounds with dense green foliage and perfectly manicured gardens is the 5-star bed and breakfast, which boasts four spacious and stylish en suite bedrooms. The common areas and individually decorated rooms date back to 1860, but have recently seen renovations that placed importance on not only the buildings historical roots, but also valuing the vitality in modern fixtures and furnishings. Just a mile from Portrush town center and a two-minute drive from Royal Portrush Golf Club, the guesthouse could not be more ideally situated.
Where to play
The two Royals – County Down and Portrush – are absolute musts in any trip to Northern Ireland. Royal County Down, situated on the Murlough Nature Reserve, overlooks the Mountains of Mourne and weaves back and forth along the shores of Dundrum Bay. The natural links landscape utilizes “bearded” bunkers, heather and red fescue, and dome shaped greens that test a player’s command of every club in his or her bag. Some ninety miles northwest is the setting of the 2019 British Open, the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Stretching to over 7300 yards from the championship tees, the towering dunes, native gorse, and undulating grounds meander seamlessly along the beach below to offer an experience as beautiful as it is engaging. Ranked in the top 20 in the world rankings, the 36-hole venue is the only course outside Great Britain to host the Open Championship.
Quite common is a trip that blends the championship courses and the hidden gems, and no two hidden gems deserve more recognition than Ardglass Golf Club and Castlerock Golf Club. Slightly different in style and feel, Ardglass Golf Club, which resides humbly in a fishing port, features an opening stretch of five consecutive holes along the Irish sea. Dramatic elevation changes and the rocky coastline offer unbeatable views, while the quaint clubhouse detracts minimally from your links experience. Castlerock Golf Club, often overshadowed by Royal Portrush and Portstewart, lies at the mouth of the River Bann where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. A roaring seabreeze is customary when teeing it up here, wreaking havoc in your club selection and commitment, while a variety of blind shots and gradual elevation changes test your game further.
Things to see & do away from the course
An afternoon traversing Giant’s Causeway should not be missed. What is known today as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom, the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns a result of an ancient volcanic eruption. For the fans of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, look no further than Northern Ireland for your sightseeing escapades. Visiting the various locations scattered across Co. Antrim, Co. Fermanagh, and Co. Down offer opportunities to witness firsthand the battlefields, forests, and the beaches the show utilizes to captivate its audience.
Where to eat
Though the quintessential Irish town of Portrush has a plethora of restaurants to choose from, Och8 Tapas Bistro was perfect for a relaxing meal. With succulent options and an array of wines and local beers to choose from, it’s easy to see why this contemporary Mediterranean establishment ranks first in restaurants in Portrush.
For something possessing more of an Irish charm, look no further than the restaurant on site at the Bushmills Inn. Using traditional roots and local produce wherever possible, every dish is cooked to order exactly how you’d like it.
Discover more about golf in Northern Ireland or inquire now with Golfbreaks.com to experience it yourself.