Posted on January 3, 2020 in Evasion.
Northern Ireland: grain and drunkenness
For the pleasure of the eyes and the game, Northern Ireland is the land that every successful golfer must tread at least once in their life.
By Franck Crudo
Century-old links among the most beautiful and famous on the planet, very reasonable distances between the different courses, green cliffs, unique spots, a friendly population, only 1h30 by plane between Paris and Belfast ... everything is in place for make your trip unforgettable. Even imminent, the collapse of the pound sterling in recent months (1 pound = 1,08 euros today against 1,4 euros in 2015) making tourism more affordable than ever.
Northern Ireland, between late spring and early autumn, is also the opportunity to experience all four seasons in one day. With, between the mood swings of the sun and the whims of Aeolus, some virile but correct local grains, since they are generally only passing through.
Come on, take your week and fasten your seatbelts, we're taking off to one of the most beautiful playgrounds that can exist.
The best course in the world for Golf Digest
Arrived in the capital Belfast, head south to Newcastle (50 minutes drive). Backing onto the Irish Sea, facing the Isle of Man, the Royal county down From the start, you are amazed. It must be said that this is nothing less than the best course in the world according to Golf Digest magazine! This legendary links is 127 years old ... and still all its teeth, especially if the gusts of wind invite themselves to the game. No one has yet scored lower than 64 on this par 71, which gives a little glimpse of the beast that must be tamed… or not. At hole n ° 1, the starter will not hesitate to wish you "good luck" with a little smile "in the corner".
A clubhouse that is worth seeing
Back in the capital, head for Royal belfast (20 minutes drive). Golf in Northern Ireland was really born on this course, created in 1881. Hilly, drawn in the middle of rhododendron and gorse bushes, it has a large number of bunkers (61) and even runs along, halfway , Atlantic. The clubhouse, typical of the Victorian era, is definitely worth a look.
Evil Hole # 1
Head north now, where some of the most beautiful British links are to be found. A 40-minute drive from Belfast, you can stop at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, a young (20 years old only) perfectly maintained “inland” course. Better to warm up beforehand because the tee and the green of hole n ° 1 are devilish.
If your budget allows it, don't hesitate to spend the night at the Galgorm Resort & Spa, a sumptuous mansion in an enchanting setting and a small waterfall nearby. A unique experience. It almost feels like a TV series: many weddings are celebrated there, so that a large part of the clientele is dressed with great pomp and you almost feel like a redneck with your pants and your polo shirt golf ...
A unique panorama
Now head towards the north coast, more precisely at ballycastle (40 minutes drive). The first three holes of the course, in the forest, are classic ... before rubbing shoulders, between the 4 and the 5, with the remains of the cemetery of an old Franciscan monastery (Bonamargy Friary). A way like any other to relativize the least of your double-bogeys.
At the start of 6, make way for the links and the North Atlantic with a unique panorama. Without doubt one of the most beautiful in Ireland. The verdant cliffs of Fair Head overlook the course while a few miles away, on the Rathlin Peninsula, an old lighthouse sporadically tries to light up your drives. On a clear day it is even possible to glimpse Scotland and the Mull of Kyntire, immortalized by a song by Paul McCartney.
Good to know: via the teeoff.com site, it is possible to obtain very attractive prices at the last minute ...
The route of the British Open 2019
Follow the north coast west towards Portrush, half an hour by car, with an obligatory stopover at the Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO heritage site (read below). Nestled on a rocky promontory, the Royal portrush is a legendary course which will host the British Open in 2019. Plan plenty of ammunition, because the wind is often invited into the game, the fairways are narrow and the local vegetation easily swallows up anything round and white. The signature hole (# 14), a nearly 3-meter uphill par 200, is aptly dubbed “Calamity Corner”. It is often played headwind and the provisional balls of amateur players run aground one after the other. In this Bermuda triangle of golf, the bogey is almost a feat.
Designed in 1888, the Royal Portrush is the favorite playground of Rory McIlroy, who set the course record (61) there when he was… 16 years old.
The hidden pearl of Ireland
To end in style - and to put it mildly - your golfing odyssey on North Irish soil, continue your journey along the coast to portstewart, barely a quarter of an hour away. The links of the Irish Open 2017 are pure delight. From hole n ° 1, you take in the view with a dogleg right below and the ocean to starboard. Many departures are installed on a height and make you discover the hole at the last moment. Thrills guaranteed. One of the most beautiful links in the world is "one of Northern Ireland's hidden gems," says Rory McIlroy. Like its alter ego Portrush, Portstewart is as delicious to play as it is merciless for your scorecard, especially if Aeolus is in a moody mood. According to Callum, a young local caddy, "the wind or a big grain can easily cost you 10 more strokes."
Once the 18 holes are finished, do not hesitate to eat at Harry's Shack, located on a beach a few hundred meters from the club. The atmosphere is guaranteed, the typical dishes and the young and friendly owner is passionate about the little white ball.
The week is coming to an end, but the pleasure remains: that of having played some of the most beautiful and oldest seaside courses on the planet. Belfast Airport is an hour's drive away. Unless… Northern Ireland, after all, has no less than 94 golf courses.
A bit of tourism during your golf trip?
The Titanic Belfast and Titanic Quarter, which retrace the history of the famous liner and allow visitors to visit the reconstructed cabins, but also the pumping station and the dry dock of the giant of the seas on the eve of its launch.
The Saint-Anne cathedral district, the oldest shopping district in the capital.
Gray Abbey, 40 minutes east of the capital, a Cistercian abbey built in 1193 and today in ruins.
Between Galgorm and Ballycastle:
The Dark Hedges, a famous alley of 300 year old beech trees.
The fishing village of Cushendum, created in 1912 by the baron of the same name. On the north coast, the ruins of Carra Castle, dating from the XNUMXth century, as well as several menhirs from the Bronze Age.
Glenarm Castle and its enclosed garden, one of the oldest in Ireland.
Between Ballycastle and Portrush:
Carrick-a-Rede's rope bridge, 30 meters above the ocean, serves as a link to Carrick Island.
Ballintoy Village, location of the Game of Thrones series
The Giants Causeway, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with thousands of basalt columns of volcanic origin jutting out into the ocean.
Bushmills and its famous whiskey, with guided tour of the distillery.
Dunluce Castle, built in the XNUMXth century, built on a granite promontory above the ocean.
Experience Catch ans Sea with Causeway Coast Foodie Tours : set off at dawn on a trawler for two hours of fishing in the Atlantic Ocean.
For more information : www.irlande-tourisme.fr