Royal County Down is not the most exclusive golf club in the world or the most bizarre, but it is one of the most scenic. It is in fact located in Newcastle, a seaside town inNorthern Ireland characterized by fine sandy beaches, mountains, and expanses of grass. Everywhere you turn, you find emerald-colored expanses interspersed with small shrubs and bushes of yellower grass. In the background are mountains covered with acres of forest, which in turn overlook theocean.
Imagine now a golf course made in such a place and designed by Tom Morris Senior, one of the most famous designers in the golf world. The result can only be outstanding.
The world stops at the 9th hole
To reach 9
hole of the Championship Course you don’t have to take the helicopter as you did for the
, but it remains one of the most famous holes in the world. Certainly, it is one of the most scenic and photographed, despite not being over 400 meters high. Part of the credit is also due to thesurprise effect given by its particular conformation.
The tee for hole 9 is located just below the top of the fairway, placed on top of a grass dune. To reach it, you have to travel a good piece of road through grass in an almost wild landscape. This is no mean feat, but it is really worth it: once you get to the top, a breathtaking view awaits you.
From hole 9 you can embrace theentire golf course, beyond which is theocean line. When the sky is clear, you can also admire the city skyline. Sometimes a slight haze rises instead, the sky turns gray, the outlines of things become softer. When the weather is like this, it almost seems as if strange creatures of legend must appear from the bushes.
Perhaps that is one of the strengths of the Royal County Down links: they manage to be magnificent even-especially-when the weather is not the best.
There is not only hole 9
It would be a tad reductive to simply praise the 9th hole of the Championship Course. In fact, Royal County Down boasts two golf courses, both with incredible scenery.
The most famous and popular is the aforementioned Championship Course, now a permanent presence in the rankings of the world’s most beautiful golf courses. In 2018, it even came in first place in Golf Digest’s ranking. In addition, it is reportedly the favorite golf course of golfer Rory McIlroy. Indeed, all potholes conceal some unseen pitfall: getting too distracted by the scenery could have nefarious consequences on the final outcome of the game.
There is no denying that the golf course takes advantage of some natural features of the terrain, which is already rich in dunes and has an extremely varied conformation. For this reason, too, attempts to imitate the Championship Course in more traditional locations almost always fall on deaf ears. On the other hand, there is another golf course with these same characteristics: Annesley Links, the other course in Royal County Down.
Annesley Links, the “forgotten” camp
Just like the better-known Championship Course, Annesley Links boasts breathtaking ocean and mountain views. Unfortunately, it suffers from competition with the golf club’s other, much longer and more challenging course. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to ignore it altogether.
Some describe Annesley Links as a “decompression camp,” something short suited for those who don’t have a lot of time or want to play a slightly lighter round. All while enjoying the same scenic wonders you can find in “big brother,” since the location is still the same.
In this case, there is no particular hole that has caught the attention of enthusiasts-they are all magnificent, true glimpses of a daydream.