Royal County Down Golf Club - Championship Course

4.6078235294 4.6 stars from 5 (10)
  • Holes: 18
  • Par: 71
  • Length: 7186 yards
  • Slope: 142
  • Layout

Rentals/Services

Carts: No
Pull-carts: Yes
Clubs: Yes
Caddies: Yes

Practice/Instruction

Pitching/chipping area: Yes
Putting green: Yes
Teaching pro: Yes

Policies

Walking allowed: Yes
Metal spikes allowed: No
Dress code: Smart dress attire
Credit cards accepted: Yes

Tees | Layout | Full Scorecard

Tee Par Length Rating Slope
Championship 71 7186 yards N/A 142
Medal 71 6878 yards N/A 131
Stableford 71 6675 yards N/A 126
Ladies 76 6249 yards N/A 148
Senior 72 6249 yards N/A 122

Rating Snapshot

GA Rating Index 4.6 stars from 5
Off-Course Amenities: 3.6 stars from 5
Value: 3.1 stars from 5
Pace of Play: 4.2 stars from 5
Staff Friendliness: 3.5 stars from 5
Course Layout: 4.4 stars from 5
Course Conditions: 4.4 stars from 5
Rating Breakdown 10 Reviews
5 stars:
9
4 stars:
0
3 stars:
1
2 stars:
0
1 stars:
0

recommend this course

9 out of 10 reviews


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Reviewer Photos

Reviews


Overall Rating
Recommended
Handicap
Age
Type of Golfer
Gender

"Bucket List!"


Merritt997's avatar
Age:  Under 25
Skill:  Intermediate
Plays:  Once a week
Handicap:  10-14

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 07/01/2018
First time playing Walked Perfect weather

Reviewed on

Just got back from a golf trip with some buddies to Northern Ireland/Dublin and all 4 of us were blown away by the experience. Royal County Down was either rated #1 or #2 by all of us. The huge dunes, oceanside location, beautiful (but tricky) layout and the aura of greatness combined to make us all fall in love with this course. All of Ireland was in the middle of a heat wave, so everything but the tees and greens was brown, but this did not impact the playability or the attractiveness of the course. We embraced it, actually. I would have enjoyed it even more were it not for the 52 that I shot on the back - to go with my 41 on the front. It's a little out of the way (2 hours or so from Dublin), but if you are going to Ireland to play golf, Royal County Down is a must.


Pace of Play: Excellent

Course Layout: Excellent

Course Conditions: Good

Staff Friendliness: Average

Value for the Money: Average

Off-Course Amenities: Good

Course Difficulty:  Extremely Challenging


I recommend this course


"Championship Links certainly a worthy championship test"


MikeBaileyGA's avatar
Golf Advisor
Age:  55-64
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  5-9

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 05/01/2018
First time playing Walked Wet weather

Reviewed on

This was one I got to cross off my bucket list, and my expectations were high. Unfortunately, on my weeklong trip through Northern Ireland and the northwest Irish coast, I played the Championship Links Course, which was just a couple hundred yards from the hotel, under the most trying conditions. Wind, rain and cold were all part of the formula for this difficult classic links test, and that certainly got the better of me scoring-wise. Still, though it all, I never felt this course was unfair, and it's certainly memorable. In short, even with the expectations and difficult conditions, I wasn't disappointed -- just eager for a return trip in somewhat more favorable weather. As for the experience, I definitely recommend a caddie, though I didn't take one personally (my playing partners did, and I eves-droppped on their conversations from time to time). There are certainly nuances you need to be aware of, and there are a number of blind shots, which a caddie can help you navigate. Also, don't bite off more than you can chew. From any tees, this is a difficult course. From the tips at 7,186 yards, you need to be a high-level amateur or young professional. We chose the whites at 6,800 yards, and it played awfully long, especially into the wind.


Pace of Play: Good

Course Layout: Excellent

Course Conditions: Excellent

Staff Friendliness: Good

Value for the Money: Average

Off-Course Amenities: Good

Course Difficulty:  Extremely Challenging


I recommend this course



"Over rated"


hogan555's avatar
Age:  45-54
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  0-4

3 3.0 stars from 5 Played on 07/10/2017
First time playing Walked Windy weather

Reviewed on

Over rated. No idea how this is considered the best course in the world? Not even top 10 in Ireland. Staff is as stuffy as you get. Last 4 or 5 holes are terrible. Front side is ok. Definitely not worth the money.


Pace of Play: Average

Course Layout: Fair

Course Conditions: Average

Staff Friendliness: Poor

Value for the Money: Poor

Off-Course Amenities: Poor

Course Difficulty:  Somewhat Challenging


I don't recommend this course


"One of my most memorable days playing golf"


JasonDeeganGA's avatar
Golf Advisor
Age:  45-54
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Once a week
Handicap:  5-9

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 04/28/2017
Previously played Walked Cold weather

Reviewed on

When I first played RCD five years ago, I hated it. Despised it. Too hard. Too blind. Too much rough.

My most recent experience playing 36 holes on a "soft" Irish day couldn't have been more polar opposite. It was sublime, pure golf heaven.

The rough was shaved shorter. The wind laid down. My caddie helped me overcome my worst blunders. And finally I understood why Golf Digest would rank the links the top course in the world. I can't go that far, but I can suddenly appreciate and understand the love and respect for such a great links.

It has skyrocketed up my personal rankings, likely into the top 10. The blind shots are so much more forgiving the second and third time around. The ponds on the back nine are still points of contention, but they're perfectly legit when it comes to strategy on each hole.

The club has a reputation for being stuffy, but the staff couldn't have been nicer to us. It just doesn't get better than staying at the Slieve Donard next door and walking through that gate to play RCD. #bucketlist


Pace of Play: Excellent

Course Layout: Excellent

Course Conditions: Excellent

Staff Friendliness: Excellent

Value for the Money: Good

Off-Course Amenities: Excellent

Course Difficulty:  Extremely Challenging


I recommend this course


"A gem"


parkerbryan's avatar
Age:  55-64
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Once a month
Handicap:  5-9

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 08/19/2016
First time playing Walked Perfect weather

Reviewed on

Well if the weather gods were out then 72 degrees and 3 mph winds made this day perfect. Course was immaculate and caddies were best treat. Mine was a 2 hncp...extremely helpful. Has to be one of the top 3 courses I have ever played and played them all...except Augusta. This need to be in the British open rotation....I understand a driving range i going in soon so that might be the only obstacle it not. Front 9 is a tough and a beautiful a golf can be.....back 9 is challenging and majestic a well. Before you die play RCD!!


Pace of Play: Good

Course Layout: Excellent

Course Conditions: Excellent

Staff Friendliness: Good

Value for the Money: Excellent

Off-Course Amenities: Good

Course Difficulty:  Somewhat Challenging


I recommend this course


"Brace yourself"


jcech344's avatar
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  5-9

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 05/31/2016
First time playing Walked Played 18 holes Excellent weather

Reviewed on

We could not have picked a better day to play. Had an earlt tee time and it was clear it was going to be a busy day. The opening hole is the best I have seen on any course. It was a dew covered modest par 5 that snakes along the bluffs overlooking the coast.This and every hole was impeccably manicured so that fairway shots were rewarded with pure firm lies.

The course has too many blind shots that without a caddy to guide you would be a nightmare. Of particular note would be #9 with its discontinuous and shifted fairway. A straight shot down the middle of the fairway would put you into the deep heather and Gorse on the other side of the dune. Our caddy climbed the dune and near the top told up to hit it over his head and be sure to carry 200 yds. This barely got us to the fairway on the other side. There were several hole that had shifted fairways and narrow landing areas on the other side of an elevated carry (# 2, 3, 6, 11, 13 and 15).

These blind shots are the only negative I had for the course. Unless you play it several times it is too hard to understand what you are facing and failing to hit the fairway can be really punishing.

The views throughout the course were spectacular and often made it hard to stay focused on your game. The course is a stunning sweep of rough land that has been meticulously carved to form imaginative and challenging holes. The only hole that I found ordinary and well out of character for the course is 17 - a 400 yd downhill par 4 with an odd triangular pond in the middle.

The pro shop was very nice and as would be expected from a course of this caliber, well stocked with quality goods. The club house was very nice and the lunch we had afterwards was perfect. Our caddy however seemed to be going through the motions and showed limited interest in our group. He was probably the least engaged of those we used on our trip.

Without question this is deserving of it's #1 rating in the world. RCD is a breathtaking and demanding a course as I have played and look forward to doing it again.


Pace of Play: Average

Course Layout: Excellent

Course Conditions: Excellent

Staff Friendliness: Good

Value for the Money: Good

Off-Course Amenities: Excellent

Course Difficulty:  Extremely Challenging


I recommend this course



"What dreams are made of"


KielChristianson's avatar
Golf Advisor
Age:  45-54
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Intermediate
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  10-14

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 03/15/2015
First time playing Played with a group Walked Played 18 holes Fair weather

Reviewed on

Walk out the back door of the Slieve Donard Resort, across the parking lot, and under the sign for Royal County Down Golf Club, and you feel like you're entering a golf storybook. The dunes, the seascapes, the town in the distance are all magical -- not a thing out of place. This is easily one of the top 5 courses I have played anywhere in the world. Get a caddie to help you find your golf balls -- for many could be lost here (though i actually didn't lose a one, despite my poor play). Don't try to card a career score; just bask in the dream until you wake up after putting out on the 18th.


Pace of Play: Excellent

Course Conditions: Excellent

Staff Friendliness: Excellent

Value for the Money: Excellent

Quality of food & beverage: Excellent

Off-Course Amenities: Excellent

Course Difficulty:  Extremely Challenging


I recommend this course


"This fabled Irish links has it all"


BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
Golf Advisor
Age:  25-34
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Few times a week
Handicap:  5-9

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 03/05/2015
First time playing Paired up at course Walked Played 18 holes Average weather

Reviewed on

There isn't a much better theater for links golf in GB & I than Royal County Down. I played it back in 2007 on a brisk but sunny March morning. We were first off and got around in about 3 hours, though this was a rare round I wish had taken a bit longer so I could soak it all in. This links has it all: exciting, challenging yet fair (for Irish standards) holes and incredible vistas.

In fact, RCD is home to what I can confidently say is my favorite hole in the world: the par-4 9th. After a tee shot entirely blind over a dune, you trudge up only to have one of golf's greatest reveals: a fairway well below, then the town of Newcastle and finally the Mountains of Mourne in the backdrop.

Much like Royal Portrush, the finishing holes aren't much, as the course begins closest to the sea and through some of the highest dunes. You may very well welcome the more subtle terrain, however, because on a windy day, this course could very well eat your lunch and the majority of your golf ball stash by the time you get to No. 16.

Is it better than Portrush? I really can't say. They're both very different (Portrush may be a little more playable in spots for the amateur), and are absolute must-plays if you're anywhere near Northern Ireland.


Pace of Play: Excellent

Course Conditions: Excellent

Staff Friendliness: Excellent

Value for the Money: Average

Quality of food & beverage: Excellent

Off-Course Amenities: Good

Course Difficulty:  Extremely Challenging


I recommend this course



"The best golfers in the world adore this Northern Irish links"


MattAdamsGA's avatar
Golf Advisor
Age:  45-54
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Advanced
Plays:  Once a week
Handicap:  5-9

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 06/01/2014
Previously played

Reviewed on

There are many ways to measure a great golf course. To some, it begins and ends solely based upon how they played upon it. Others will judge based upon more esoteric criteria such as routing, green complexes, shot values and views. Regardless of what combination of these approaches one cares to employ regarding Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down, I would humbly suggest another for consideration: Think of the best golfers you know who have played the course? For that matter, think of the best golfers in the world and universally they will all sing the praises of Royal County Down with many declaring it the “best in the land” and still others convinced it numbers among the Top 10 in all the world! High praise, indeed.

Built in the shadow of the peak of Slieve Donard, the fairways at Royal County Down dart and hide behind ancient and rugged, rolling dunes. While it’s beauty is nearly distracting, the course does not try to court your favor. Simply put, the course might be the most difficult you will ever play (this is directly influenced by the mighty winds it is subject to off the Bay of Dundrum and the Irish Sea, but even in the rare occasion of little wind there is no respite). My favorite holes are the 9th and 4th. Rory McIlroy has said the view from the tee on the 4th are his favorite in all the world and the yellow-brick-road-like meandering and backdrop that define the 9th are equaling draw dropping. Royal County Down is special both for those who are not faint of heart and those who possess one.


I recommend this course


"One of the best courses in the world"


JayCoffinGC's avatar
Golf Channel
Age:  35-44
Gender:  Male
Skill:  Intermediate
Plays:  Once a week
Handicap:  15-19

5 5.0 stars from 5 Played on 05/26/2014
First time playing Played with a group Walked Played 18 holes Average weather

Reviewed on

Full disclosure - I played here after an overnight flight and two-hour drive from Dublin. I was extremely dreary but it did not dampen my determination.

A buddy and I should've went with caddies. We did not, and it was a big mistake. There are several blind shots, which could frustrate you the first time you play, but a caddie would've remedied that problem.

I loved everything about it, even though I needed to buy golf balls after the round. I hit it all over the place that day, and lost so many golf balls in the infamous gorse bushes.

The ninth hole is a treat, and provided the best spot on the course and one of the best in the world. It's a place where you cannot be disappointed with poor play because the surroundings are so fantastic.

So, then, the question always pops up - Royal County Down or Royal Portrush? I'm a Portrush guy. Thought it was more playable and more in front of you. If I played both multiple times, my view likely would change. But I only played them both once.


Pace of Play: Excellent

Course Conditions: Good

Staff Friendliness: Excellent

Value for the Money: Average

Quality of food & beverage: Good

Off-Course Amenities: Excellent

Course Difficulty:  Extremely Challenging


I recommend this course



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