Royal County Down Golf Club

Royal County Down Golf Club is arguably the best golf course in the world!

Royal County Down Golf Club

County Down, BT33 0AN, Northern Ireland


Tom Doak recommends golf architecture students pay special attention to the bunkering and routing.

Royal County Down Championship Course can divide opinion due to the numerous blind tee shots.

Is it the best golf course on earth? Perhaps. One thing is for certain, it has one of the best opening nine holes in the game.

Course Review
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Golf Course Review

The Championship Links at Royal County Down Golf Club, or Newcastle, are amongst the best in the world. Sat in the Murlough Nature Reserve, the golf is as stunning as the locale. Sat in the shadow of the iconic Slieve Donard Hotel, not only is it one of the greatest golf clubs in Ireland, it is one of the greatest courses in the world.

The magnificent backdrop is provided by the Mourne Mountains whilst the golf is laid out in the dunes inland from Dundrum Bay on the Irish Sea. The most prominent mountain seen from the course, Slieve Donard, is the highest peak in Northern Ireland.

Royal County Down Golf Club History

The club was founded on March 23, 1889. Lord Annesley simply formalised the play over The Warren, a rudimentary 9 hole course that did the job until Old Tom Morris arrived later the same year. Old Tom arrived on July 16, 1889, and advised an immediate extension to 12 holes with the planned addition of 6 further holes which opened in 1890. The Par 3 10th is purportedly the only Old Tom Morris hole left intact on the course.

Between 1900 and 1907, George Combe would change holes: 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 18! Harry Vardon would make alterations in 1908.

In 1926, Harry Colt made changes to the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 9th. He was the driving force behind the Championship Course at Royal County Down Golf Club we see today.

Donald Steel added the current 16th hole and tweaked the 17th and 18th in 2005. More recently, Martin Ebert has added some dunes to the 17th.

Royal County Down Annesley Course

The Annesley Course at Royal County Down Golf Club is the second course or relief course for the Championship Links. Sharing the same dunes as the world’s best golf course, holes 5 through 15 play in and around the corridors of the 11th to 17th holes of the Championship links.

The course was recently reimagined by Martin Ebert with changes made to holes 9-11. The 18 hole short course has no par 5’s and six par 3’s. There are back-to-back one-shot holes on the 12th and 13th as well as holes 16 and 17. Coming in at under 5000 yards, it is written off by too many but still provides plenty of thrills and spills for those clever enough to have a go.

The Royal County Down Annesley Links is a worth loop and better than any other in the immediate area. If you’ve come this far you may as well stay and enjoy all that Royal County Down Golf Club has to offer.

Royal County Down Golf Club’s Royal Heritage

Further information on Royal County Down Golf Club and its history can be found in Scott Macpherson‘s book, Golf’s Royal Clubs.

Royal County Down Golf Club & The Walker Cup

Royal County Down Golf Club hosted the 41st Walker Cup in 2007. Team USA featured Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson & Webb Simpson and won 12 1/2 to 11 1/2. Team GB & Ireland was headlined by Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett.

Royal County Down Golf Club Photography

Purchase Kevin Murray’s Royal County Down Golf Club photography.

Read More World Ranking
in the world World Ranking
in GB&I

Royal County Down Golf Club - Videos

Watch Cookie Jar Golf's Ecstatic Dreams - Royal County Down

Erik Anders Lang visits Royal county down golf club

hidden links reviews royal county down golf club

Featured Architect: MacKenzie, Alister

As taken from his book, Golf Architecture, Alister MacKenzie felt the following were essential: The course, where possible, should be arranged in two loops of nine holes. There should be a large proportion of good two-shot holes and at least four one-shot holes. There should be little walking between...

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At A Glance



Driving Range
Short Game


Three Star Collection
Harry Colt Collection
Old Tom Morris Collection
Best Irish Golf Collection
Doak Scale Collection
Golf Club Atlas Collection
GOLF Top 100 Golf Courses in the World

Contact Details

County Down, BT33 0AN, Northern Ireland
Visit Club Website


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