If you ask different people, you will get different answers to the question of what is the best place to golf in the world. On the other hand, playing at Royal County Down in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, has been described as the experience of a lifetime and makes many a short list of the world’s best place to golf. It seems fitting that the golf course considered the best in the world is located in Ireland, where golf originated hundreds of years ago.
Royal County Down is a classic links course situated in the Murlough Nature Reserve in the shadow of the Mountains of Mourn and close to Dundrum Bay, an inlet of the Irish Sea. The location is 30 miles south of Belfast and 90 miles north of Dublin in County Down, although the atmosphere of the course is one of isolation. This classic links course offers panoramic views from narrow fairways that wind through ancient sand dunes surrounded by purple heather. Many visitors stay at the nearby Slieve Donard Hotel, offering 130 rooms with a restaurant and amenities.
Royal County Down was established in 1889 when Old Tom Morris designed two nine-hole loops with sand dunes separating every hole. The beauty of the course has been described as that of an oil painting, because of the beautiful views from the course.
The total yardage for the Championship tees is 7,204 yards with a par of 71, course rating of 75 and a slope of 136. The Medal tees offer 6,902 yards, a par 71, a course rating of 74 and a slope of 131, while the Stableford tees provide 6,696 yards, a par of 71, a course rating of 73 and a slope of 126. For the ladies, the total yardage is 6,261, a par of 76, a course rating of 77 and a slope 148.
Royal County Down is located in Ireland, after all, and weather is definitely a consideration when you play. Gray, windy and rainy days are common, and on many days golfers contend with a crashing sea. The stiff gusts are strong enough to bend the flagstick, topple a hand cart and carry the ball according the whim of the winds.
Greens And Ninth Hole
Many of the greens at Royal County Down are quick, but domed, so that the golfer must hit a shot onto the green firmly, but he must take the speed of the green into consideration. The dramatic ninth hole, often used for photo shoots, is a par-4 of 486 yards. Golfers tee off from a large mound down to a fairway 60 feet below. The next shot is designed to play over two bunkers to an elevated green.