The last course on our Northern Ireland tour was Royal County Down. The course is consistently rated in the World’s Top 5 which is some achievement and after playing it I can see why.
The front 9 holes is probably the best set of holes I have ever played with particular spotlight on hole 3 a brilliant par 4 through the dunes, a well bunkered fairway and a large green that runs from back to front. The 4th one of the most photographed holes in world golf is a beauty. Teeing off from an elevated tee with the Mountains of Mourne as a backdrop it would be hard pushed to find a more picturesque hole in the UK. The hole itself is brutal though as the player needs to carry a sea of gorse before reaching this deceptively sloping green with a long iron or a wood.
The 7th is a short par 3 with a green that allows only the best of tee shots to rest on its putting surface….any miss judged or miss struck tee shot will be expelled to either a pot bunker or huge run off areas. Hole 9 is another cracker with its split fairway and huge elevation change. Once the fairway has been found an accurate approach is required to find the green set between two large dunes.
The back 9 does not quite meet the consistent excellence of the front side although it is still very good. Hole 13 is a sharp left to right dog leg par 4 set between the dunes…a long straight tee shot is must if you want to see the putting surface otherwise the player will be left a blind approach to another lively green. The 16th is a cracker as well and is the shortest par 4 on RCD. The green can reached in the right conditions but if you leave yourself short sided its game over…two of my group putted off the putting surface.
A few things stood out for me about RCD. Firstly the conditioning was first class without doubt the best I have experienced on a links course. The greens were rapid and smooth…the fairways were better than some clubs greens! The off play areas stood out as well with very well managed rough which was consistent throughout the course…not an easy achievement. The green complexes were brilliant although extremely exacting…most were raised and the run offs gave the player the opportunity to use every facet of their short game.
People mention that RCD has many blind tee shots but this does not deter from its brilliance I feel it enhances it. The whole experience was first class and I cannot wait to return.
Date: October 29, 2020