Like the much underrated Valley golf course at Royal Portrush, the Annesley at Royal County Down is often overlooked by visiting golfers when they make the pilgrimage to play one of the finest links layouts in the land.
It’s a very short layout at only 4,548 yards from the back tees, which is hardly surprising when you consider there are no par five holes, only one par four measures in excess of 350 yards and six of the holes are par threes.
Nonetheless, it’s a challenging test where your driver can remain in the locker room as you negotiate your way round the heaving fairways that twist and turn in the duneland beside the Championship course.
The best holes are found between the 5th and 15th holes where short, narrow fairways play to small, undulating greens – some visible, some blind – that are firm and fast enough to ensure the par of 66 is rarely matched.Mackenzie & Ebert carried out a significant redesign of the Annesley course in 2015, adding three new holes around the turn, with the fairways of these holes routed through the towering dunes in the northeast corner of the property.
Played it for the first time back in August (only because, despite our begging and pleading, we couldn't get squeezed on to the Championship course :-) The course is short, quirky and somewhat fun, especially if one is fresh to the country and looking for a challenging "warm up" round. However, off the tee, the majority present relatively blind landing areas with sever sloping; so, if you catch a windy day and have never played there before, iron shots will need to be PERFECT or you WILL lose your ball (save your Pro V1s ... and hit your Pinnacles there!)
A really enjoyable authentic links experience. This is a very different course to the Championship course but as long you don't expect the absolute topnotch and challenging golf like you would on the main course you should have a good time. This isn't an easy course just because it's short.
After a relatively unspectacular start, things get interesting on the 4th hole. From thereon in the holes may be short (par 4s are typically around 250-320 yards), but few of them are really driveable as there is so much trouble around the greens. You therefore end up playing to areas of safety , and then the fun starts. The greens are devilish, and quite small. Therefore on a windy day, target golf is usually not the best option, leaving you the chance to try and be creative, hitting bump and run shots up ridges and banks and using the slopes to bring the ball on to the green.
The stretch from holes 4-11 is great, with a driveable par 4 on the 8th, then some holes around the big dunes down by the beach.
It really is a lot of fun, and if youre coming from afar you are likely to want to play the main track next door, but if you have the time its definitely worth a round on the Annesley. It's short so you can whizz around fairly quickly and would be especially great to bring the shorter hitter who may be intimidated by the full length beast next door.
Quirky in places but 100% authentic golf. Three new holes (9,10 and 11) are nothing short of magnificent. Like playing in a Cathedral even though they measure not much more than a lay-up and a flick x2, and a flick of a Par 3. The definition and quality of presentation have to be seen to be believed and you will not see better greens anywhere in the world!!