Ardglass

Ardglass is an amazing Golf Club. It does not get the recognition that it should from the ‘ranking experts’. However, it is well appreciated by visiting golfers both locally and Internationally, just check their reviews.

The club members enjoy it and provide a warm welcome to all. The main features are the clifftop holes and the Clubhouse.

The five opening clifftop holes are real raw golf surging along a craggy coastline played over cliffs and ravines with the sea ever-present and generally wind to allow for.

The whole course is memorable and the 19th hole is the oldest clubhouse in the world, a fifteenth-century castle.

Some try to make a comparison with Old Head Golf links. Well, Old Head has a spectacular location that is difficult to match anywhere in the world.

Ardglass on the other hand provides outstanding views from almost every tee. It is also a natural course with a light touch on the design. Old Head was farmland where sheep could fall off the cliffs, but the golf course is totally manufactured.

It was deliberately and openly built to attract wealthy golfers with fees that justified exclusive membership and provided impeccable service. At Ardglass you get a typical friendly Irish welcome.

 

Ardglass Golf Course

(6288 yards, par 70)

Ardglass is a coastal fishing village in County Down, the name translates from the Irish to mean ‘green height’.

It is about 6 miles to the southeast of Downpatrick located on the Lecale peninsula, beside the Irish Sea and only 30 minutes from the world-renowned Royal County Down golf links at Newcastle.

Most of the course sits on a rocky plateau, full of quirks and memorable challenges. The first five holes stand out as amongst the most exciting runs of golf holes in all of Ireland.

With the wind almost ever-present adding to the challenge, there are also hard fairways and small firm greens. it is quite difficult to play “yardage based” golf on this clifftop links-style course. 

In 1896, under the leadership of the Rev Thomas MacAfee the first seven-hole routing, measuring less than 1000 yards was laid out in an area that is now the first and eighteenth fairways.

The club leased and then gradually purchased more land so that in 1907 the course was extended to nine holes. It was not until the late 1960’s that with more land obtained the layout could be extended to eighteen holes.

More land was bought in 1998 and the course was modified by David Jones a local golf professional from Bangor. He had a successful career mainly on the European Tour and turned to golf course design in 1995.

The new land was alongside the sea, heading towards the distant lighthouse. It now offers an entirely new, and just as thrilling, stretch of holes as the first six.

The result is that Ardglass Golf Club is now has a spectacular and dramatic course that never fails to impress visiting golfers.

The opening stretch is absolutely beautiful and the Irish Sea is evident from all eighteen tees and greens. On a clear day, it is possible to see across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man.

Almost half the holes at Ardglass follow the incredible coastline, including a couple set directly against the water and several others are routed over dramatic cliffs that offer panoramic views.

The course record at Ardglass Golf Club is 63.

The Clubhouse was formerly known as Ardglass Castle an ancient building that dates from the 15th century making it the world’s oldest and perhaps most interesting clubhouse structure.

Parts of the clubhouse date to the 12th century. It is said to be haunted in certain sections, The present building was first a fortified warehouse, a safe haven for 15th-century importers and exporters.

However, as the harbour was in use by the Norman knight, Sir John De Courcy, at the time of his invasion of Ireland in 1177, it is entirely possible that the clubhouse sits on even earlier footings. 

There is no doubt that the castle was started no later than 1405. By the eighteenth century, it had been made a family home.

Ardglass is unquestionably one of the most spectacular courses in all of Ireland. A memorable round here is finished off with a well-deserved beverage at the oldest building used as a clubhouse in the world.

 

Ardglass Golf Highlights

Hole 1

335 yards, Par 4

The first tee shot can be very intimidating as you look up the rocky coastline, with the castle/clubhouse behind you and the cannons pointed in your direction.

From the tee this daunting short par four requires a carry of some 200 yards along the coast.

It turns left uphill to a green tucked into a gorgeous rocky nook.

The approach is best from the left but too far left could be in the sea.

Hole 2

167 yards, Par 3

An intimidating, unforgiving death-or-glory signature hole known as ‘Howd’s Hole’.

From the tee there is an engaging view of the Castle.

However, the challenge is much greater than the short yardage suggests.

The tee shot is played over a rocky ravine to green which is totally exposed to the elements.

Anything left could be swallowed up by the waves.

Hole 5

151 yards, Par 3

This short par four is downhill from an elevated tee to a putting surface that is difficult to hold when a brisk wind is blowing.

Club selection is important. The small green complex has two well-placed bunkers to the front.

On the right side is the Captain’s bunker, if your ball resides there it costs you a donation.

Hole 11

488 yards, Par 5, Index 3

A spectacular par five, but a brutal hole along a narrow fairway with thick gorse to the left, out of bounds on the rocky beach to the right and a brook running through it.

The green is well protected.

You need to stay in play to score well.

Hole 12

198 yards, par 3

The view from the elevated tee on a high rocky outcrop with the backdrop of the Irish Sea and Mourne Mountains is glorious. The tee shot is downhill to a green on a rocky headland by the sea. When the wind is dead against, it can be very intimidating.

Hole 18

345 yards, par 4

This Is a quality closing hole and a classic risk/reward challenge.

Long hitters can go for the green from the elevated tee through the downhill fairway, particularly with a following wind.

If you bail out left your chip or pitch to the green will be tricky. You are now back in the Castle setting.

The 19th 

A converted ancient castle beckons to provide refreshment in the oldest Clubhouse in the world.

 

Local Attractions

Exploris Aquarium

Located on the shores of Strangford Lough in Portaferry, Northern Ireland. It is at the Marine Nature reserve and is a public aquarium. 

Visitors to Portaferry will be amazed at the diverse collection of marine life from around the world.

First, there is a focus on Strangford Lough and the Irish Sea where you will get ‘hands on’ with our native species.

You may tickle the belly of a small shark and feel the spikes on a sea urchin, along with learning about the Viking heritage of Strangford Lough.

The colourful coral reefs in the Tropical Ocean zone is home to over 100 species.

There is a team of aquarists and guides to answer your questions and provide interesting information on many of the aquaria that you will encounter.

The facility is an important winter migration destination for many wading and sea birds.

There are common seals, basking sharks and Brent geese. Three-quarters of the world population of pale bellied Brent geese winter in the lough area. It is home to about 75% of the marine species found in Northern Ireland.

Exploris illustrates and exhibits the large variety of animals that live in Strangford Lough.

Castle Ward

This eccentric 18th-century mansion is on a hillside looking over the waters of Strangford Lough.

Walk or cycle through the sheltered woodlands and spot butterflies, rabbits, ducks and swans. Step into a fantasy world of castles and dragons as you explore the Georgian farmyard and the lough shore which were film locations for the hit television series Game of Thrones.

Castle Ward’s historic farmyard is the location of Winterfell, the backdrop for the series pilot and much of season one.

It’s where you will find the Whispering Wood and key scenes including Robb Stark’s Camp, the Baelor battle and when Brienne confronts the Stark men.

HBO's Game of Thrones® spent eight weeks at Castle Ward building the set of Winterfell ahead of the pilot episode and hundreds of actors and crew worked on the filming here.

Murlough National Nature Reserve

A sand dune system owned by the National Trust. It is fragile and 6000 years old.  It is an excellent area for walking and bird watching due to its spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains.

There is a network of paths and boardwalks through the dunes, woodland and heath from where you will see an array of butterflies and wildflowers, as well as access to one of the finest beaches in Co. Down.

The dune fields at Murlough are the best and most extensive example of dune heath within Ireland with over 720 species of butterflies and moths, one of which, the Marsh Fritillary butterfly, is of European importance.

The site is internationally important for wintering wildfowl and waders. Royal County Down golf course is within the reserve.

Other attractions:

  • St Patricks Trail
  • St Patricks Stream
  • Newcastle
  • Downpatrick
  • Belfast Titanic

If you would like to book a custom golfing holiday in Northern Ireland & Ireland, contact us to discuss your needs.

See all our Ireland golf tours:

CONTACT us:
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Phone: +353 (0)1 431 1075

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Phone: +44 (0) 131 278 0524

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Phone: +34 9511 27110

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