Royal County Down was our third stop on our NI tour after Castlerock and Royal Portrush before. We stayed in the hotel bordering the property and it is interesting to note that within the hotel, there are signs for the golf club and clubhouse. When asked whether we needed to walk or drive to the club, the lady told us to walk out the back and then follow a path through an almost secret bush with “Royal County Down” on a little gate. This feeling of secrecy really added to the mystique and atmosphere of the whole place.
Again, like Royal Portrush, the aura of this place was incredible. We again felt like the club was there for us and only us. We went in and signed the Visitors book and when we had changed our shoes, our bags had already been taken by our caddies to the putting green. I have never had a caddie before and it was a bit weird having them do literally everything for me, from raking the bunkers to fetching my divots, to even repairing my own pitch-marks but can safely say that they helped contribute to the best golf experience I have ever had.
We played end of November on a day that the locals said was good for summer, one club wind and no rain. The greens were in amazing condition and were incredibly quick. I know each to their own and all that but these were faster than some of the Surrey sandbelt courses in Summer. Not overly undulating but very very subtle. I cant thank my caddie enough for seeing where I had lined my putt up and then warned me to allow a bit for the break to the ocean.
Everyone complains about the blind shots but genuinely they aren’t an issue at all and in my opinion they are what make the course. The feeling of seeing your ball soar against the dark mountains in the background over the hill and to hear your caddie say “great shot” is something I haven’t felt before. The same goes for when you climb to the top of the hill and see the approach all laid out in front of you down below.
The dunes are big enough that when in the flat of the fairway with a dune either side of you, you are unable to hear the wind or the sea or even any other groups on the adjoining holes. You really get this sense that you are completely alone with the golf course.
The rough had been trimmed thankfully but still, if you stray too far off line then you are in lost ball territory and the bunkers, while I was under the impression that there weren’t too many, the few that I were in were very small and penal. Not steep necessarily but they feel very steep because you have to lift the ball high to get through the rough that lines the greenside side of the bunker lip.
For me, the front 9 is undoubtedly the best 9 holes anywhere I have played and the back 9 is definitely in my top 5. This isnt ‘motorway golf’, there are straight holes that are seemingly doglegs because being on one side of fairway leaves you with a very difficult to a partially blind green and there is a fantastic short par 3 7th which is similar to the Postage Stamp at Troon, anywhere on one half og the green and the slope takes the ball off into a deep bunker.
Not too sure what else I can say apart from the fact that I will be back as soon as I can to play again and take it all in. The first time experience is almost too overwhelming, you don’t take it all in!
Date: December 05, 2016