Royal County Down Golf Club

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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.

It is arguably the best golf course on earth with the best opening nine holes in the game.

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. Royal County Down is located in a naturally beautiful links setting with the magnificent backdrop of the Mourne Mountains.

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

Watch Royal County Down GC Videos

See Hidden Links video of the course here

Erik Anders Lang's visit can be seen here

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. 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 course 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

The Annesley Course at Royal County Down 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 the club and its history can be found in Scott Macpherson's book, Golf's Royal Clubs.

Golf Course Photography

Purchase photography of this course here.


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Visitor Information

Everything you need to know before you go!

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