Royal County Down

Are you ready for the many challenges involved when you play The Royal County Down? Founded in March 1889, The Royal County Down is rich in golfing history and tradition. Originally consisting of just nine holes, Old Tom Morris was commissioned to develop a second nine. In just over a year the new 18-hole course was open and ready for play, with Morris having moved very little earth. Instead he simply worked with the natural contours of the land. The resulting golf course is exceptional, and it's no stranger to major events, having hosted the Irish Open in recent years. 

The Royal County Down golf course is one of Ireland's oldest, a seashore two-in-one challenge incorporating two 18-hole links courses - the Championship Course and the Annesley Links. This place has made a series of outstanding contributions to Irish golf thanks to hosting many important tournaments.  Obtaining tee time here is extra special because of it.

Rory McIlroy says Royal County Down is his favourite golf course in the world, and it’s easy to see why. The Championship Course at The Royal County Down has two famous holes, the extraordinary fourth and ninth, both featured in the 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes book. In 2005 the Championship Course was awarded   4th best course in the world outside the United States by Golf Digest. Most recently, 2016 saw the course voted the Best in the World by the same publication.

About The Royal County Down golf club – Brief history

  • Created by Old Tom Morris in 1889
  • George Combe remodelled the course in 1900
  • Harry Vardon modified the course some more in 1908
  • King Edward VII awarded it royal status in 1908
  • In 1926 Harry Colt made further improvements
  • Hosted the Senior Open Championship in 200, 2001 and 2002
  • Home to the Amateur Championship in 1970
  • Hosted the British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship 8 times
  • Home to the Curtis Cup in 1968
  • Hosted the Walker Cup in 2007
  • Home of the Palmer Cup in 2012
  • Hosted the Irish Open in 1928, 1935 and 2015
  • In 1997 the 17th and 18th holes were strengthened to become two of the world's trickiest finishing holes 
  • In 2004 a brand new 16th hole was created, an extremely tricky par 4
  • The current 4th and 9th holes are two of the most photographed and famous holes in the golfing world
  • 2005 saw the clubhouse refurbished and extended  


The Royal County Down golf club scorecard

Click here to view the scorecard


Featured hole – Holes 4 and 9

The fourth and ninth holes at Royal County Down are both featured in the book The 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes. The fourth comes with breath-taking views, endless gorse and multiple bunkers. The long, thin green rises from front to back, offering dramatic drop-offs to both sides and the rear. The pitch shots here are varied but all difficult, apart from the relatively safe haven at the green's front. Putts towards the sea run from front to back. 

The ninth hole involves a blind tee shot where you have to hug the big dune on the left of the fairway to set up a decent approach, with no room for error.  The shorter hitter will discover more room to the right, but that won't help you with your second shot. A couple of bunkers 50 yards short of the green have to be negotiated, and you need to pay full attention when putting from back to front. Pitching from around this green is incredibly difficult.


Known for a natural profile with immaculate greens

As Rory McIlroy said, “the courses, the atmosphere, the scenery, the people... it’s a great place to play golf”. It's tough to pin down exactly what makes this course such a winner, since every aspect of it delights the player, from the immaculate, perfectly manicured greens to the unspoiled landscapes and remarkable views, topped off by the warm welcome you’ll receive playing here.


Royal County Down golf club golfing vacations 

Would you like to play Royal County Down golf course for yourself? Here at The Experience St Andrews we provide meticulously crafted Royal County Down golf breaks to golfing enthusiasts worldwide. Our stay and play golf vacations include meals, transfers and luxurious accommodation and can be fully tailored to your heart’s desire. To find out more or book your golf deal, please contact us.

Featured Royal County Down golf package: 

Northern Ireland 7 Nights 4* Programme –  Our Ireland golf vacations offer the chance to experience some of the finest courses the country has to offer. This package includes six amazing rounds of golf – two on Royal County Down and the remaining four split between some of Northern Ireland’s most stunning golf courses, including Royal Portrush and Ardglass. You’ll enjoy a meet-and-greet service on arrival at the airport, and transfers to and from the golf courses each day. At night you’ll relax surrounded in luxury at hand-picked 4* accommodation. A full Irish Breakfast provided daily will set you on your way, and on one special evening of your choosing you’ll enjoy a dinner at the Slieve Donard Hotel. Discover more >