Ginella's Journeys: Northern Ireland - Ardglass No. 1
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Ginella's Journeys: Northern Ireland - Ardglass No. 1
Roughly 30 minutes from Royal County Down, it doesn�۪t take long to realize Ardglass defines ���hidden gem.�۝ From the back of the first green, the idea you�۪ve discovered something special seems rather obvious, especially on a day like the day I arrived. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Images
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - The Harbour Bar
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - The Harbour Bar
No trip is complete without at least a pint at the Harbour Bar, where locals like ���Crazy�۝ Willie Gregg (far right) make sure you leave understanding how and why a Guinness tastes so much better in his bar than anywhere else in the world. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys: Northern Ireland - Portrush No. 14
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Ginella's Journeys: Northern Ireland - Portrush No. 14
One of the more picturesque tees and one of the more memorable holes at Royal Portsrush, ���Calamity Corner�۝ can now play almost 250 yards from the tips. Miss it right and you have what feels like a 250-yard drop to a treacherous pit of double bogeys. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Portrush No. 7
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Portrush No. 7
A view of the new 7th hole of the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush, which along with a new 8th will replace the existing 17th and 18th holes. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Ardglass No. 11
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Ardglass No. 11
I call Ardglass the little Pebble Beach of Irish golf because of holes and views like this one, from the footpath to the 12th tee, looking back to the 11th green. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Direwolf 2
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Direwolf 2
Walking off the 18th at Ardglass, I was surprised by some famous and furry locals. Meet Odin and Thor, two of the Dire Wolves in Game of Thrones. Roughly 80% of the hit TV series is shot in and around Northern Ireland. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Direwolf 1
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Direwolf 1
My attempt at a ���wolfie�۝ as Thor and Odin indulged a crazed fan in some prime social media material. For more, be sure to follow their IG account at @direwolf_tours. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Titanic Museum
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Titanic Museum
From Ardglass, we raced up to Belfast, a city enjoying quite the urban renaissance. And at the epicenter of the bloom is Belfast Titanic. There have been 3.5 million visitors to Belfast Titanic since it opened in 2012, and I suggest at least 4 hours here. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Portstewart No. 2
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Portstewart No. 2
The next day started at Portstewart, where we were treated to a break in some weather and a spin through one of the most adventurous and impressive stretches of nine holes in the world. Here's the view from behind the second green. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Portstewart No. 3
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Portstewart No. 3
And from the new fourth tee, looking back down on the third green, Portstewart will host this year�۪s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the European Tour. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Bushmills
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - Bushmills
A liquid lunch was at Bushmills, where they�۪ve been distilling whiskey since 1608, making it the oldest working distillery in Ireland. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor
Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - No. 6
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Ginella's Journeys - Northern Ireland - No. 6
Short hole, small target. The 160-yard sixth at Portstewart draws a comparison to Troon�۪s Postage Stamp and almost every green at Pinehurst No. 2. Matt Ginella/Golf Advisor

Ginella's Journeys: Photos from my latest golf trip to Northern Ireland

If you love life, golf, music, alcohol and the Irish, then you'll love Ireland.

On my most recent filming for an episode of Ginella's Journeys, I flew into Dublin and went directly to Ardglass, which is actually in Northern Ireland. And to quickly clarify, the only real difference between what is now Ireland and Northern Ireland, as it relates to the avid American golfer, is that in Ireland the currency is the Euro, and in Northern Ireland, you'll pay in Pound Sterling. Otherwise, to my eyes, it's all one big beautiful country filled with an embarrassment of great golf, warm locals, crowded pubs, stone walls and rolling green fields littered with sheep, cows and flagsticks.

It's an exciting time in Northern Ireland as it prepares to welcome The Open back to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951. Significant changes have been made to Portrush's Dunluce Links. Led by Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert, they will eliminate the 17th and 18th holes of the current routing and they've created a new seventh and eighth hole, which will open for play later this spring. I love the fact that Ebert pays homage to Big Nelly -- the 20-foot-high bunker that anchors the left side of the original 17th fairway -- by adding a new Big Nelly to the right of the new seventh hole.

There will be lots more on this trip in an upcoming episode of Golf Channel's Morning Drive. But for now, you can view a quick photo essay of some of the more memorable sights, settings and distillery tours.

Matt Ginella is Golf Advisor's Editor-at-Large and host of Golf Advisor Round Trip travel series on Golf Channel. Matt serves as resident buddy trip expert and captains a collection of VIP trips called Golf Advisor Getaways.
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Ginella's Journeys: Photos from my latest golf trip to Northern Ireland
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