Ireland is one of my all time favorite destinations. I always make myself available to escort our groups to the Emerald Isle just to make sure I never miss a trip. Both the South and North have amazing golf courses as well as places of interest, but today we’ll focus on the North.
Your journey will most likely start in Belfast and, if time permits, we’ll take a 20 minute trip from the airport to where the legendary Titanic was built. Converted from a 19th Century shipbuilding office, the Titanic Hotel next door promises a decadent yet stylish art-deco experience. Make sure you stop and grab breakfast there before visiting the Titanic Museum, a monument to Belfast’s Harland & Wolff maritime heritage.
After a 60 minute journey North, you’ll arrive at the Bushmills Inn. Originally a coaching inn, it’s now a 4 star boutique hotel full of character and a great base for conquering the North. An open fire welcomes you in the entrance hall and The Bushmills Inn staff will even fly your country’s flag if you’ve traveled from afar. The food of course (available as a casual or formal dining experience) is excellent. My go-to order is a mature prime beef sirloin steak with a pint of Guinness. I like eating traditional.
After some rest, Royal Portrush is just a short 10 minute drive away. Host of the 2019 Open, the course is a sight to behold with its fairways bordering beautiful seaside cliffs.
I dare you to aim and hit it straight at the pin on 16! This world-famous par 3 isn’t called “Calamity” for no reason. And after your round make sure you have time to grab lunch in the clubhouse or even make a visit to the Pro Shop.
But sport and sustenance aren’t all that’s on offer. With several landmarks in close proximity to the courses, you’ll definitely have time to do some sightseeing. Landmarks from Game of Thrones such as Ballintoy Harbour, Dark Hedges and Fullerton Arms are all nearby, as is Dunluce Castle and the incredible sights of the Giants Causeway.
Or if you’re as much of an Irish Whiskey fan as I am, Bushmills has a world-renowned distillery nearby that we’ll need to visit.
A 1.5 hour scenic drive will take you to Ballyliffin. There you can pay the Glashedy Links, a course designed by Pat Ruddy who now owns the European Club south of Dublin. While Ballyliffin is located in Southern Ireland, it’s actually farther North than you’ll have been yet on your tour.
For something completely out of the ordinary (and if your budget might not permit staying at the Inn), I suggest you visit Ballylough House, a rustic 20th Century B&B that boasts period features you won’t find anywhere else. David, the owner, is an amazing host. He’ll give you a personalised tour around the estate and will encourage you to enjoy an evening dram of whiskey with the other guests in the lounge.
Before you leave this part of the country you’ll need to make a tough decision. Either conquer the roads further West down through Sligo, and visit some lesser known Links Courses like Enniscrone - wonderful I may add - or take the easier route to play Royal County Down and Ardglass. No matter what magazine you look at, Royal County Down regularly features as one of the top 10 courses in the world. And Ardglass is a true gem of a course hugging the coastline.
Either way you can’t go wrong. Northern Ireland is a small but magnificent country with plenty to see and do for both golfers and sightseers alike. You might not be able to cover everything in one trip, but that gives you the perfect excuse to come back!
The locations from this article come from our Northern Ireland package, but remember we'll always organize our tours around you and what you want to do. Send us an enquiry and let us build your personal tour of Northern Ireland.