Top tips for planning a golfing holiday in Northern Ireland
The British Open returns to Northern Ireland this week after 68 years away, and it’s safe to say that Northern Ireland is enjoying golf fever! As we all gather to rally behind hometown heroes Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy, thousands of golf enthusiasts from around the globe have descended on Northern Ireland not only to take in the thrilling, world-class golf on display at the 148th Open at Royal Portrush but also to challenge themselves on some of the world’s top golf courses.
We’ve already told you about the world-class Ardglass Golf Club, located just a stone’s throw away from Dufferin Coaching Inn, and Royal County Down – golfing legend Rory McIlroy’s home course – is also ranked World Number 1! But Northern Ireland offers a whole host of world-class golf courses which attract players at all levels from around the world. We’ve put together some top tips for planning your golf holiday to Northern Ireland.
Book a non-stop flight if possible
International travel with oversized golf bags can be tricky. To make the journey to Ireland smoother, we recommend ensuring your bag is packed with only the essentials, is clearly labelled with your destination and return addresses and contact details, and you have made arrangements for oversized baggage before arriving to the airport.
If you are staying in Northern Ireland, there are a number of modern and easily accessed airports available for ease of planning. Dublin Airport and Belfast International Airport are the two largest airports on the island of Ireland, with Belfast International Airport just a one hour drive from Dufferin Coaching Inn and Dublin Airport under two hours away via the island’s main motorway.
To remove the element of missing baggage or hauling an oversized golf bag across the airport during your layover, we recommend seeking out direct flights to Dublin, where possible, to avoid the added stress of tracking lost luggage on your arrival or risk missing a crucial tee time.
United States Preclearance services are also available at Dublin Airport, making trips back to the USA painless following a long holiday.
Know your links
Depending on what course you call ‘home,’ many golf tourists might be confused to find a majority of our golf courses quite ‘rugged’ in nature! 85% of the world’s links golf courses are located in Britain and Ireland and feature an added element of battling the elements while you golf! Most true links courses are located in coastal areas, meaning varying winds, mist, and fog can impact your game. Many golfers who are used to highly-manicured courses are often surprised and impressed by the natural appeal of these scenic courses dotted along our beautiful island.
To make the most of this added challenge to your game, we recommend playing two rounds when possible on a links course to give yourself the opportunity to adjust your game and find your ‘groove’ when it comes to your golfing style.
Dress for all seasons – in one day!
Spending a day on the links in Northern Ireland can really build an appreciation of why this island is referred to as the land of 40 shades of green. It’s true that in one day a visitor can expect to experience all four seasons, and this will be amplified when you are on a coastal golf course!
Don’t be fooled by a sunny morning – make plenty of space in your bag for waterproofs and a sturdy umbrella for when those afternoon showers roll in. By dressing in layers you can warm up or cool down as required when that notoriously ‘soft’ Irish climate throws you a curve ball. Rain gloves are also a great addition to your golf bag to ensure you’re ready for all weather.
Take advantage of long days
For travellers who have not been to Ireland before – especially from the USA and Canada – many are surprised by the length of the day in Northern Ireland. Due to its northerly latitudes, our summers tend to be very bright. Around the summer solstice, Northern Ireland enjoys over 17 hours of daylight per day, leaving plenty of time to sink a few putts on your favourite course.
Whilst these long daylight hours truly highlight the beauty of a Northern Irish summer, travellers should also keep in mind that at the height of winter, our days last just over 7 hours and drastically limiting hours of outdoor play!
Take time to plan
With over ninety courses located across Northern Ireland, avid golfers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing their courses. Before you arrive to Northern Ireland, take time to decide which courses you’d like to play and reserve your tee times. Do also take time to review club rules, as these can differ from location to location across the country.
Tourism Northern Ireland has developed a fantastic resource for choosing a course that best suits your playing style, location, and preferred backdrop, including twelve here in County Down!
Can’t decide which course you’d like to play? Check out this interactive ‘Ultimate Round’ map of Northern Ireland which highlights eighteen of the most iconic and formidable holes across Northern Ireland’s world-famous links and parkland courses.
It’s worth noting as well, that as Ireland continues to rise in popularity as a global golfing destination, accommodation and tee times are booking up well in advance! To avoid disappointment when organising your holiday, we recommend you begin looking at finalising your bookings at least one year in advance of travel. Our team at Dufferin Coaching Inn love a good, challenging round of golf and would love to help make recommendations based on your personal preferences and style!