The County Down parkland layout is not the best course you will meet in Northern Ireland, but it is home to the new U.S. Open Champion and that’s reason enough to play it. The McIlroy name features prominently on the club’s roll call of champions – Rory is there with dad Gerry and uncle Colm – and you can also see for yourself where he chipped plastic balls across the dining room floor as a three-year-old!
Visit www.holywoodgolfclub.co.uk
Royal Portrush
Local resident Darren Clarke calls this the best links in the world, and he may well have a point. Graeme McDowell was born within a long drive of the course, and Rory McIlroy holds the low round record. Visit www.royalportrushgolfclub.com
Royal County Down
The welcome can be as frosty as an arctic wind at times, but the challenge presented by the Newcastle course is to die for. Tiger Woods comes here to prepare for the British Open which says it all really. Visit www.royalcountydown.org
Laugh Erne
The last 13 holes, in and around the Laugh, make this a must-see on any trip North. Designed by Nick Faldo with scenery straight from the heavens, it boasts a halfway house that just has to be enjoyed. Visit www.loughernegolfresort.com
As good a test of links golf as there is on the island of Ireland with some huge dunes just waiting for your ball. Close enough to Donegal, Portrush and Castlerock to include on any great links itinerary. Visit www.portstewartgc.co.uk
The unsung hero of links golf in Northern Ireland, a great challenge with no airs and graces. The north west links is one of Irish golf’s great secrets and once you’ve enjoyed it for yourself you’ll keep it that way! Visit www.castlerockgc.co.uk


Holywood golf course