how many golf courses in northern ireland

Teed Up: Exploring the Best Golf Courses in Northern Ireland

Last Updated on November 5, 2023

Golf is a popular sport in Northern Ireland, with many courses throughout the region. The number of golf courses has increased over time as more people take up the sport and discover its benefits. This article will examine how many golf courses are located in Northern Ireland and what makes them unique from other regions. It will explore factors such as types of courses, terrain and facilities offered at each location.

Additionally, it will look into the history of these locations and their importance to the country’s sporting culture. By examining all aspects of this topic, readers can gain an understanding of why golf is so popular in Northern Ireland and how much it contributes to the local economy.

History of Golf in North Ireland

Golfing in Northern Ireland has a long and storied history. The first recorded golf game was played at Portadown Golf Club in 1844, making it one of the oldest courses in all of Ireland. Since then, many other courses have been established throughout the region, creating a rich heritage for golfers to enjoy.

Northern Ireland is renowned for its natural beauty, which makes it an ideal setting for enjoying a round of golf. In addition to being picturesque, the landscape also offers challenging terrain and interesting hazards which can test even experienced players. This combination of beautiful scenery and stimulating gameplay makes it easy to understand why so many people come back year after year to play on these courses. The popularity of golfing in Northern Ireland has not only grown over time. It has become an integral part of the country’s culture and tradition. Many famous tournaments, such as Rory McIlroy’s Irish Open, are held here each year, further demonstrating how deeply embedded this sport is into local life.

Major Golf Courses in North Ireland

Northern Ireland is home to numerous golf courses, with many offering stunning views and challenging play. Belfast Golf Club, founded in 1881, is the oldest course in Northern Ireland and one of its most renowned. It offers a blend of parkland-style holes as well as links-style elements. Royal County Down, located on the Murlough Bay coast near Newcastle, has been consistently rated among the top five courses in Britain & Ireland by leading magazines and websites such as Golf Monthly and Golf Digest. The championship course features rolling fairways lined with heathers, gorse and bracken, making it an exciting challenge for all levels of players.

Another popular golf club is Portstewart Golf Club which boasts two eighteen-hole courses along the spectacular north Antrim Coastline – Strand Course and Riverside Course. Both offer wonderful scenery while providing a tough test that requires accuracy off the tee and around the greens.

Types of Golf Courses in North Ireland

Northern Ireland is home to a variety of golf courses that can cater to every skill level. Links courses are the oldest type of course, and they provide an open landscape with few trees or other obstructions. Parkland courses consist of more traditional vegetation like trees and provide a more sheltered environment. Coastal golf courses offer stunning views of the Irish Sea and often make use of interesting natural features such as sand dunes and rolling hillsides. Each type has its own challenges, making them enjoyable for all levels of players.

No matter what kind of golf you prefer, there’s something in Northern Ireland to suit your needs. From the demanding links-style courses on the coast to parkland gems nestled within lush greenery, there is plenty to explore in this beautiful country. Whether it’s a day out at Royal Portrush or taking on some lesser-known hidden gems along the Antrim Coast, visiting any one of these iconic locations will guarantee a memorable experience for all levels of golfer.

a golf ball and a person standing

Pros and Cons of Different Golf Courses in North Ireland

There are approximately 116 golf courses in Northern Ireland, each offering a unique experience. The majority of the courses can be divided into three categories: luxury golf courses, hidden gems, and coastal courses. This section will explore the pros and cons of these types of the golf course in order to help players decide which type best suits their needs.

Luxury Golf CoursesExpensive fees & equipment needed
Hidden GemsLimited facilities and amenities available
Coastal CoursesNatural hazards such as wind or tides may impact playability

Luxury golf courses offer an upscale environment with manicured greens and excellent clubhouses. These high-end establishments tend to come with a hefty price tag. However, they provide all the amenities any golfer could need including driving ranges, spas, restaurants, and more. Additionally, specialised equipment is typically required when playing at one of these courses due to their demanding layouts.

Hidden gems are smaller-scale courses that are often tucked away from well-populated areas and have limited facilities or amenities available, but what they lack in size, they make up for with serenity. Many of these secret spots boast spectacular views and memorable experiences without breaking the bank.

Finally, coastal courses provide some of the most beautiful vistas imaginable during rounds on links-style terrain along winding coastlines; yet despite its beauty, there also comes risk since natural hazards like wind or tides can affect gameplay significantly. Thus it’s important to consider environmental conditions prior to teeing off on coastal tracks.

an view of coastal area

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any Amateur Golf Tournaments Held in Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland, there are numerous amateur golf tournaments held throughout the year at various courses across the region. Most of these events offer a range of divisions based on age, ability level, or gender so that participants can compete against others within their own class. Each tournament also has its own set of prizes which may include cash awards or trophies depending on the organiser’s preferences. Amateur golf tournaments tend to require less stringent qualification criteria than professional competitions, meaning more people can take part regardless of experience or handicap rating.

When taking part in an amateur tournament in Northern Ireland, all competitors must adhere to certain rules and regulations set out by the organisers, such as those concerning dress code and etiquette. While most clubs allow players to use any legal equipment during play, only conforming balls approved by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club may be used due to restrictions imposed by tournament directors. Additionally, other important details like starting times and score submission deadlines should always be taken into consideration before committing to competing in an event.

Overall, there are plenty of exciting amateur golfing opportunities available in Northern Ireland where anyone can test their skills against fellow competitors while enjoying a day out on one of the country’s premier courses.

Are There Any Golf Courses in Northern Ireland That Are Open to the Public?

With over 30 publicly accessible golf courses and an increasing number of free or low-cost options, it is possible for people from all walks of life to enjoy a round on a course located in this region.

To begin with, many of the golf courses in Northern Ireland offer memberships but also accept walk-ins from individuals who are not members. Examples include:

  • Royal Belfast Golf Club
  • Lisburn Golf Club
  • Malone Golf Club

Furthermore, some clubs have reduced rates for students and senior citizens, allowing them greater access to the sport regardless of their financial backgrounds. Additionally, there are numerous driving ranges across the country which provide excellent facilities at competitive prices.

In terms of free or inexpensive golfing opportunities, various local councils throughout Northern Ireland maintain public parks with nine-hole golf links available to everyone without charge. There has been significant investment by these bodies into making such places more comfortable and enjoyable for visitors as well as introducing ‘pay & play’ packages where users pay only when they use the facility. This type of arrangement enables people who could otherwise not afford to take part in the game to get involved at little or no cost – something that would likely be welcomed by many potential players eager to try out a new activity.


Overall, Northern Ireland offers an abundance of opportunities for golfers of all levels and budgets with its extensive selection of both private and public courses. With its ideal climate, great value green fees, and plenty of amenities on-site, Northern Ireland should certainly appeal to any golfer seeking a quality experience on some truly stunning fairways.

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