Royal County Down Golf Course Review

Par 71, 7,186 yards, links

Royal County Down is located in one of the world’s most naturally beautiful links settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve. Against the magnificent backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne, the links stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay, zigzagging back and forth to provide a different vista from virtually every hole. The narrow fairways thread their way through sand dunes, and the fairways are surrounded by purple heather and golden gorse, beautiful to look at but punishing for any golfer who finds them with a wayward shot.
The bunkers are world famous and feature overhanging lips of marram, red fescue and heather. The greens are fast and many are domed, rejecting any shot not struck properly. This is a true test of any player’s command of the traditional bump and run, the preferred way to play any links. 
The opening hole is a par 5, all 540 yards of it, with Dundrum Bay awaiting a sliced drive and a huge sand dune on the left.
The 7th is a beautiful par three, just 142 yards in length. There are bunkers at the front and if you hit the ball too far there are pot bunkers waiting at the back of the putting surface. 
The 9th hole is one of the most photographed holes in world golf. A 486 yard par 4, it is played from one side of a huge mound down to a fairway some 60ft below and 260 yards from the tee. From the bottom of the slope the second shot is played over two bunkers to a raised green.
The 13th, a 444-yard par 4, is one of the most difficult holes on the course - the fairway is narrow and there are dunes on both sides. A series of bunkers line the right-hand side and a deep bunker protects the front left of the green. 
The 17th, at 435 yards, is another corker. Usually played into the wind, there are two bunkers at 270 yards with a pond a few yards further, in the middle of the fairway. 
And the 18th? It is a par 5, 550 yards, with a staggering total of 24 bunkers to be avoided, along with the heather that borders a fairway that narrows the further you go down it. The green is one of the toughest on the course, running from front to back and with lots of swales. The green sits in front of the clubhouse in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains. The views of the surrounding hills and coastline will stay with you long after you hole your final putt.
Royal County Down
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Derek Clements

Derek Clements is a golf journalist - he has covered many Open Championships and European Tour events, as well as The Masters. Born in Glasgow, he writes for The Sunday Times and Golfshake, and has also written for Today's Golfer, the Daily Mail, Swing by Swing and many other golf websites, magazines and newspapers. He has played golf all over the world and numbers Gleneagles, Kingsbarns and Aldeburgh as his three favourite golf courses in the United Kingdom. He lives in Suffolk, is a member of Waldringfield Golf Club and has a handicap of nine. He had lessons from the late Bob Torrance and has worked with Jean-Jacques Rivet, one of the world's leading golf biomechanists.