How many of the golfers who flock every year to the magnificent links of Royal County Down are aware that there is another great Irish golfing experience to be had just a few miles along the south east coast of Down in the fishing port of Ardglass?
It is, quite simply, one of the most spectacular courses on the coastline of Ireland, with dramatic elevation changes that offer stunning views of the Irish Sea from every hole as they wind their way from the clubhouse out along the cliffs to a craggy headland then back again.
Arglass Golf Club was formed in 1896 when members fashioned a 7-hole course which was soon extended to form a 9-hole layout. It was not until 1970 that the number of holes on the course were doubled to a full 18-hole configuration. The course is kept in tiptop condition with well-tended fairways, tricky pot bunkers and fast, true greens.
Shortly after the club’s Centenary, a major decision was made to remove three holes – the back-to-back par five 5th and 6th, along with the short 17th – and replace them with three exciting new holes at the furthest point from the clubhouse, creating a wonderful new loop from the new 9th to 11th holes.
From Where Golf is Great – the finest courses
of Scotland and Ireland, James W Finegan commented: “No more than six holes
are authentic undulating linksland; the other dozen are rather meadowy. But
virtually the entire eighteen is routed over high ground, with the result that
the views – across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man, down over Coney Island
Bay, and south to the Mountains of Mourne – are intoxicating. Simply to be
abroad on Ardglass is a delight… Admittedly, Ardglass is not a great golf
course. But the game here is nonetheless rewarding, studded with Bernard Darwin’s
‘pleasurable excitement’ in a setting of surpassing beauty. I cannot imagine
playing at Royal County Down and not finding the time for a game at Ardglass.”
The opening five holes at Ardglass are truly memorable as they are routed along the edge of the cliff tops. The signature hole on the course is played early – the 167-yard par three 2nd, called “Howd’s Hole” where the tee shot is played across a rocky inlet to a seemingly small, distant putting surface. Another thrilling par three is the 12th, called “Cathlin” which is played from an elevated tee way above the green located 198 yards away on the edge of the rocky headland.
The clubhouse is a bit special too – a 14th century Castle that was once the home of the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare – where you find the atmosphere relaxed and friendly. And if you are in any doubt about any of the above descriptions then view the stunning aerial hole by hole photographs of the course on the club website which is a great example of how to promote a course to the golfing public.
September 16, 2007