Thursday, August 6, 2015

Northern Ireland's Ultimate Round of Golf

As the Northern Irish Open tees off at Galgorm Castle, there's no better time to introduce the 'Ultimate Round of Golf' in Northern Ireland... according to Discover Northern Ireland. These holes have been selected/nominated by a variety of golfers, celebrities, sports stars and those in the golfing industry. The holes are introduced through a series of videos - see below.

The par four 13th at Galgorm Castle - one of the 'Ultimate' holes.
Now, no one is going to agree with all of these holes, so take a look and see how many have you nodding along and how many have you scratching your head in confusion. Alternatively, before you start watching, write down your favourite 18 and see how the two lists compare. I certainly scratched my head a couple of times... and I've included a list of my favourite golf holes in Northern Ireland at the end.

Broadcaster Liam Beckett, Michael Moss and course designer Des Giffin select one hole from Castlerock (the tough par four 8th) and two from Portstewart (the par four 1st and 2nd).

No surprise to see Royal Portrush with two nominations: the par four 13th and the world renowned (and feared) par three 14th. Kirkistown Castle Golf Club's par four 10th is also a shoo-in. John Bamber, Charlene Reid and Paul Lappin explain their rationale for the selection of these holes.


Another course picking up two nominations is Royal County Down. Again, no surprise given the global reputation and beauty of the course. Holes selected are two of the best you will ever play: the impossibly blind par four 9th and the majestic par three 4th... both driving directly at the Mourne Mountains. Nearby Ardglass also gets selected for its par five 11th... a beautifully solitary hole and squeezed between two excellent par threes. Broadcaster Gerry Kellys talk about Ardglass while father & son duo, Kevan and Reeve Whitson, wax lyrical about RCD.

HOLES 10-12
You couldn't discuss golf in Northern Ireland without Barry McGuigan weighing in. He chooses the short par four 10th at Lough Erne, while Sean T. Hughes focuses on the short, par three ninth at his home club of Dungannon, a hole designed by Darren Clarke. Michael Hoey, the Northern Irish Professional and Ambassador for the Northern Irish Open selects the tough par four 13th at Galgorm Castle. 

HOLES 13-15
Perhaps the strangest choice, the par four second at Ballycastle is discussed by broadcaster Gavin Andrews. (There are there are at least six far better holes.) The enthralling clifftop par three 2nd at Cairndhu is an obvious inclusion, as identified by Hugh Logue, and the par four 18th at Malone is also a worthy addition to the list. Club professional Michael McGee explains why.

HOLES 16-18

The final three holes comprise the short par three eighth at Belvoir Park - and introduced by the Club Pro, Michael McGivern - while Fergus McIlroy explains how the foolish try to emulate Rory's feat of  driving the 357 yard 17th at Holywood Golf Club... which he did, aged 15. The final hole is the remarkable uphill par three 13th at Royal Belfast, with former Ireland rugby international Paddy Wallace explaining why.

You'll note as you listen to the commentary that the voiceover claims that these are the most "significant" holes... not necessarily the best. It is an interesting distinction as a list of the 'best' holes would struggle to include Holywood's 17th, Dungannon's 9th or Ballycastle's 3rd (certainly not when the 6th and 7th are much stronger holes).

Approaching the 6th green at Ballycastle

Northern Ireland's Golfing Extras

Golf clubs/holes that would battle it out to be included on my list:
  • 1st at Scrabo (par four)... and the 2nd, the 14th and the 17th.
  • 2nd at Spa (par three)
  • 4th at Clandeboye (Dufferin) (par four)
  • 5th at Royal Portrush (Valley) (par four)
  • 5th at Bangor (par four)
  • 6th at Kilkeel (par five)
  • 11th at Co Armagh (par three)
  • 13th at Warrenpoint (par four)
  • 13th at Gracehill (par four)
  • 17th at Lisburn (par four)
  • 17th at Moyola Park (par three)

The glorious 17th at Moyola Park.
Of those already on the 'Ultimate Round' list, I'll add in Royal County Down's par four 13th, Royal Portrush's par four 5th, Castlerock's par four 10th, Portstewart's par three 6th, the startlingly good par four 1st at Ardglass, and the par three 15th at Malone.

You know what, there are so many great golf holes in Northern Ireland let's just make it two 18s and be done with it.


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