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Royal Belfast

Founded: 1881 (present location 1927)
Designer: Harry Colt
Championship Length: 6,306 yards
PAR: 70
Type: Parkland
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One of only four Irish golf clubs with a “Royal” prefix, Royal Belfast Golf Club was founded in November 1881 and holds the distinction of being the oldest golf club in Ireland. And while the course may be overshadowed to some extent by the great links courses of the northeast, such as Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and Portstewart, there is little doubt that Royal Belfast is one of the finest parkland golf courses in the entire island of Ireland.

As one would expect, the history of the club is a long and colorful one. It was during a holiday in Scotland in the summer of 1881 that one Mr. Thomas Sinclair was invited by friends to play golf at St. Andrews. Having been at once smitten by the game, he returned to Ireland and immediately set about seeking a site on which to build a nine-hole course. The first official meeting of the club occurred on November 9th 1881, and so began the remarkable history of Irish golf. With the popularity of the game growing and membership expanding, the club was forced to move sites, first in 1892 and finally to its present location on 140 acres of land at Craigavad in 1925. Renowned architect Harry Colt was engaged to design the new course and such was his success that Royal Belfast has remained largely unchanged to this day.

Today, Royal Belfast provides a stern golfing challenge and offers one of the most beautiful settings of any Irish golf course, with its unrivaled views of Belfast Lough and the Antrim plateau beyond. At the heart of its varied challenge is the constant requirement for accuracy rather than length, while the numerous bunkers and subtly sloped greens ensure that posting a low score is, indeed, a difficult feat. The many major events hosted at Royal Belfast over the years include the Irish Professional Championship, won by Christy O’Connor, Sr. and, more recently, the Ulster Professional Championship, won by Darren Clarke.

Among the more memorable holes on the front nine are the short par 3, 4th, which measures only 142 yards but requires an accurate shot to a green literally surrounded by bunkers; the par 4, 8th, with out of bounds all along the left hand side; and the 408-yard par 4, 9th, rated the most difficult on the course and playing directly alongside Belfast Lough. The homeward journey will not disappoint either. From the beautiful short par 4, 10th playing alongside the water’s edge, to the long par 5, 18th, each hole is a real pleasure to play.

Course review content courtesy of Golf Publisher Syndications

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