- Inspired by The Open? Head to Northern Ireland for an unbeatable golf holiday
- Tee off at Royal Portrush or Portstewart Golf Club for fantastic coastal scenery
- Stay at the 17th-century Bushmills Inn, where local bands often strike up a tune
Chris Cutmore for the Daily Mail
For such a tiny nation, Northern Ireland is home to a greedy number of world-class golf courses.
Royal Portrush in Antrim, and Royal County Down, on the Irish Sea at Newcastle, are just two that are hailed across the globe.
This month, Ulster’s Rory McIlroy brought the Irish Open to Portstewart. He finished joint fourth at The Open on Sunday.
Par excellence: Portrush golf course has beautiful sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean
Some golf courses have a reputation for being snooty, but nothing could be further from the truth here.
After a wonderful day on the links at Portrush, I spend a cosy evening in 17th century Bushmills Inn, during which a band of locals strike up a tune.
Golfers are welcomed by locals keen to share the delights of their links, crafted by ocean winds and waves. The Giant’s Causeway, just seven miles up the coast, is a staggering collection of 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns rising out of the sea.
Legendary: Challenging links course Portrush is considered to be one of the best in the world
Settle in: Luxury BB The Bushmills Inn is at the centre of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast
Another short drive away, the view from Portstewart’s 1st tee, taking in sand dunes, and The Strand beach, is worth the green fee alone. It’s a course fashioned amid a dramatic dunescape and ranks even with legendary Portrush.
Many players prefer Portstewart to its more famous cousin, particularly after recent improvements to the back nine holes.
Portrush’s most famous resident, Darren Clarke, is a former Open champion, and in each of the town’s plentiful watering holes you’ll be told ‘that’s Darren’s seat’. Don’t miss the Harbour Bar, packed full of locals and golfers.
Who knows who you’ll meet or what you’ll discuss. What’s certain is that once you’ve experienced the magic of golf in Ireland, you’ll be back for a few rounds — on the course and off it.
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