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Tour Ireland: Emerald Greens - Holiday Golf in Ireland

Emerald Greens - The Essential Guide to Holiday Golf in Ireland

The Glens of Antrim & The Causeway Coast

The following is extracted from the Appletree Press title Emerald Greens - The Essential Guide to Holiday Golf in Ireland by Roisin McAuley. The book contains course detail and commentary on nearly 70 Irish courses.

'The nine Glens of Antrim cut inland from the lovely corniche coast road between Glenarm and the Giant’s Causeway. From the Causeway to Castlerock in County Derry, the coastal plains of the River Bush and the River Bann spread out towards cliffs of white chalk and dark basalt, rocky headlands, small harbours and sweeping strands. The Giant’s Causeway has been a tourist attraction since 1693 when the Royal Geographical Society published a description of it. The Causeway was formed by lava which erupted through the Earth’s crust some 60 million years ago and cooled slowly enough to form the familiar polygonal coulmns and colonnades. The drive around the north Antrim coast is one of the most famous scenic routes in Europe.'

9 holes – par 66 (4386 metres/ 4873 yards)
Shore Road, Cushendall
Telephone: 028 2177 1318
The course lies between the village of Cushendall and the pretty pebble beach at the shore. The River Dall meanders along Shore Street and winds its way across the course to enter the sea under an arched wooden bridge beside the first tee. It flows along the 1st fairway and the back of the 1st and 8th greens. There are three tee-shots across the river. The 2nd/11th is a long par 3 across the bank to an elevated green. The 5th is a pitch up to the green on the opposite bank. The 9th/18th – the longest hole on the course – takes you across the river again and back to the clubhouse. There are no par 5s but the river lends charm and you can go out of bounds on every hole. There are lovely views of Cushendall Bay, Garron Point, Lurigethan Mountain and, on fine days, the Mull of Kintyre, Sanda and Ailsa Craig.

18 holes – par 71
At the junction of the A2 and A44 in Ballycastle
Telephone: 028 2076 2536
Ballycastle is an historic course in more than one sense. In November 1891, together with eight other clubs, it founded the Golfing Union of Ireland and gained its place in golfing history. It is also part of local history. On the course itself lie the ruins of Bonamargy Friary, founded by Rory McQuillan in 1500. The friary was built inside in an earlier earthen enclosure. The course incorporates three different styles of golf course – meadowland, links and cliff-top. Although there is a sequence of six par 4s on the front nine, they are played over different terrain. You cross the Cushendall Road to play the first five holes around the ruins of the friary in a triangle of meadowland bordered by the Margy and Carey rivers, and the road. The 1st runs back up the Margy towards Glenshesk. (The Margy, which is joined by the Carey at the back of the 1st green is associated with the legendary Children of Lir who were changed into swans and condemned to roam the waters of Ireland for 900 years.) The 5th tee is on raised ground said to have been the citadel of the Queen of ancient Dalriada. Ahead, out to sea, is Rathlin Island. Corss back over the road to play five links holes. The 6th and 7th run along the beach. (A big hitter might drive the 6th green.) The 9th requires a blind shot to the green up in a coll. At the back of the green is a sheer drop to a road running along the shore. The 10th (par 3) is uphill again over a steep bank of gorse to high ground on the top of a cliff. The next seven holes are played on this high ground with wonderful views of Ballycastle town, Kenbane Head, Fairhead and Rathlin Island with its high white cliffs and three lighthouses. The coast of Scotland is often visible behind. The wind is nearly always in the reckoning up here. On the 14th (a long par 4) there are also fine views of Knocklayde (Cnoc Leithid – “Hill of the Slope”) and Glenshesk (Gleann Seisc – “Barren Glen”) to your left. The 17th takes you down for a finish on the links land.

The detail in this article was extracted from Emerald Greens - The Essential Guide to Holiday Golf in Ireland by Roisin McAuley, published by Appletree Press.

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