HOLYWOOD, Northern Ireland – Holywood Golf Club has received a lot of interest in the last three weeks, and understandably so. Rory McIlroy’s historic victory at last month’s U.S. Open immediately threw the quaint club onto the world golf map, even if it wasn’t ready for the overnight interest.
Turns out, the place deserves some recognition. Sure it’s often overlooked by it’s big brothers – Royal County Down to the south and Royal Portrush to the north – but this parkland course, at 6,118 yards from the back tees, is a genuine treat in its own right. It’s also a more affordable option, at 29 pounds to play (approximately $46).
Set high in the Holywood Hills, the club is less than 10 miles outside of downtown Belfast and provides stunning views of Belfast Lough and the Antrim Coast.
A couple favorites were the sixth and the 12th. The par-3 sixth plays 124 yards and is all downhill. Essentially you need to get a ball airborne and it’ll get there, although finding the middle of the tiny green is no easy task. The 438-yard par-4 12th hole is named White House because, well, the big white house behind the green is your aiming point from the tee box.
“You have your White House,” a Holywood member said to inquisitive Americans. “That’s our White House.”
The ambiance is spectacular at this blue-collar club. Have a pint in the clubhouse and you’re likely to see juniors over in one corner sipping on soda and snacks, while a woman’s league meets in the other. Gabby Maguire, who is in charge of food and beverage at the club, is a great storyteller and will stop and chat anytime anyone wants. Ask him about the first time he met young Rory.
All things told, the club has everything and is all about what’s right with the game. If you make a journey to Northern Ireland, go play Holywood. But don’t play it because it’s where McIlroy grew up, play it because it’s fun.