Royal Portrush – Dunluce Links, Portrush – Co. Antrim

Royal Portrush is a golf club of momentous stature. Situated near the most northerly point of Ireland, it consists of two championship golf courses. The views across the North Atlantic of both Scotland and Donegal are glorious, but the golf really is the highlight here. It has regularly hosted the Irish Open, most recently in 2012, when Ryder Cup star Jamie Donaldson emerged triumphant.

The better known course is the Dunluce Links, which has been ranked as no.12 golf course in the world by Golf Magazine in recent times. You would be hard pressed to find rough that is more challenging than here, nor one that will punish careless tee shots so hard. Find the fairway and you will find the greens, but therein lies another test of your skills. The greens are as hard to judge as anywhere, but with the right kind of eyes you may find what you need.

The Valley Links is what you might expect. Played in between looming dunes, the rough is no easier here. The back-to-back feature holes present a real test of your skills. The 336 yard par four fifth sounds short, but the green is littered with dunes and bunkers on three sides for protection. Follow that up with a 237 yard par three into a partially unsighted green, and you will have had a real test of your mettle.

The stature of Royal Portrush continues to rise, and it is in no small part thanks to its local major winners, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke. They have been a big part of the lobbying process to bring the British Open Major Championship back, having been played there in 1951. The Championship seems set to return there in 2019, which will be a momentous occasion. An Irish golfing holiday would seem incomplete without a trip around its most prominent course.

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