Photo: 1st Hole Ardglass Golf Course
NORTHERN IRELAND boasts a long and illustrious golfing heritage with dozens of courses which are well regarded and held in high esteem across the world of international golf and following the success of home grown, Open-winning golfers Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, is fast becoming known as the major golf capital of the world.
Visitors to Northern Ireland’s golf courses can indulge in their dreams and try their hand at challenges that have tested the very best golfers in the world including Tiger Woods and of course Northern Ireland’s ‘famous three’.
This summer the golfing action is in full swing and the opportunity to join in is better than ever with a packed few months of tournaments running from April to September including the Coast of Down Links Challenge, the Causeway Coast Amateur Golf Tournament and, as part of the European Challenge Tour, the Northern Ireland Open Challenge.
Just some golf events taking place in Northern Ireland this year in N.I.
Coasts of Down Links Challenge
The 2013 Coasts of Down Links Challenge, from April 24 – 26, will be played over three golf links, Ardglass Golf Club, Kirkistown Castle Golf Club near Cloughey on the Ards Peninsula, and the world famous Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle, home of the 2007 Walker Cup. The tournament is open to male and female golfers aged 18 years and over and who are members of an affiliated club and hold an official handicap. On day one and day two all competitors will play 18 holes at Ardglass and Kirkistown Castle Golf Clubs and on the third day, the top 136 players will carry their scores forward to the final round at Royal County Down Championship Links. The remainder of the field will then play in a plate competition at Royal County Down Annesley Links.
The Causeway Coast Amateur Golf Tournament will celebrate forty five years of golfing action when it returns from June 3 – 7. Famously the largest amateur golf tournament in Europe, the event is held every summer on some of the North Coast’s finest courses including the prestigious Royal Portrush Golf Club, the host venue for the hugely successful 2012 Irish Open and home of 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell and also 2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke. The tournament regularly attracts more than 1,000 golfers from as far afield as South Africa, Canada, Australia, the USA as well as Europe. A big draw for the golfers is the magnificent setting of the Causeway Coast, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and known as ‘a golfer’s paradise’. The tournament is played over Royal Portrush Golf Club’s Valley course, Castlerock Golf Club, Portstewart Gold Club and Ballycastle Golf Club and competitors play four out of five days from Monday to Friday. The entry fee for 2013 is £200 which gives players four practice rounds and four competition rounds on the excellent links courses. Each player must submit a current handicap certificate on entry and carry it on each day of the Tournament.
The Heart of Down Golf Tournament combines superb natural beauty with some of the finest golfing available in the country. This year will see some changes to the tournament’s format, for the first time the competition will be played over a reduced period of three days from August 14 – 16. Days one and two take place at Ardglass Golf Club and Spa Golf Club and day three (Heart of Down Day) at the famous Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle. The top 148 placed players from the Heart of Down Tournament will qualify for the Royal County Down Championship Links and the remainder will have the opportunity to play Royal County Down Annesley Links.
The European Challenge Tour will return to Northern Ireland for the first time in ten years when Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Ballymena, hosts the Northern Ireland Open Challenge from August 29 – September 1. With a total prize fund of €170,000, the NI Open Challenge presents an opportunity for the next generation to follow in the footsteps of the golfing superstars and begin on their path to The European Tour. The August event will mark the first time the stunning Galgorm Castle, one of Northern Ireland’s premier parkland courses set in the spectacular surrounds of an historical estate, has ever hosted a Challenge Tour event. The Challenge Tour is the second tier men’s professional golf tour in Europe. It is operated by the European Tour Group and players who are successful on the Challenge Tour qualify for membership of the European Tour the following year.
For more information on Northern Ireland’s golf courses, click on www.discovernorthernireland.com/golf