While Ulster’s links courses get the most attention from golfers, there are parkland courses to consider as well. Golf was first played in Ireland on the land now known as the Holywood Golf Course under the guise of Royal Belfast.

The Royal Club moved on in 1982 but in 1904 this club was formed. It’s located just outside Belfast in the Holywood Hills looking down on Belfast Lough. This is one of the best golf courses in Ireland.

Here it goes, the complete guide to golfing Holywood Golf Course.

This Holywood Golf Course review recognises that some golfers prefer to play courses a little shorter than championship ones. Holywood fits into that category but it demands accuracy with length off the tee not essential. This is one of the best Northern Ireland golf courses.

Holywood Golf Course Becomes World Famous

Holywood Golf Course was the place where world superstar Rory McIlroy learnt to golf, though his schedule means his visits these days are very limited.

About Holywood Golf Course

Holywood is an undulating course built on parkland with lush fairways with a new drainage system ensuring play is possible except in really wet weather.

The best time to visit Ireland for golf is during the drier months of summer but if the winter weather is kind, you will still enjoy a round.

I had limited time on one of my visits to Belfast but still managed to fit in the front 9 holes in under 2 hours and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I must return because the back nine appears to be an exacting challenge. When you play Holywood, score well on the front nine and brace yourself for just one Par 3 and eight Par 4s on the back.

The Greens and Fairways

The front nine has fairways that are relatively easy to find but to score well, you will need accuracy with your mid and short irons. Your driver is not necessary on some of the Par 4s but you have to be accurate on the short Par 3s on the front nine to score well.


Hole 1 (Stroke Index 6) 337 yards Par 4 is a gentle start that requires just a fairway wood off the tee and then little more than an 8 iron to reach the green but you will find the green a challenge.

Hole 2 (SI 16) 339 yards Par 4 is still early in the round so play conservatively again and you may begin with another Par even if you are not a great golfer.

Hole 3 (SI 12) 311 yards Par 4 offers a chance for big hitters to get close to the green but inaccuracy is punished.

Hole 4 (SI 4) 191 yards Par 3 is the longest of the four Par 3s but if you have got your fairway woods working well, you can hit the green and walk off with a par.

Hole 5 (SI 10) 475 yards Par 5 is the first of only two Par 5s on Holywood Golf Course and while big hitters may be looking for a birdie, perhaps another par is sufficient, hitting the green in regulation and two putting.

Hole 6 (SI 18) 123 yards Par 3 is a real tempter, a very short iron, and by now you should be used to the speed of the greens.

Hole 7 (SI 8) 483 yards Par 5 is your last chance of a birdie four and is slightly longer than the 5th.

Hole 8 (SI 2) 431 yards Par 4 is the first of the long Par 4s with others coming on the back nine.

Hole 9 (SI 14) 134 yards Par 3 is the first of two successive Par 3s and even high handicap golfers may manage to hit the green with an 8 iron.

Hole 10 (SI 13) 169 yards Par 3 is perhaps a 7 wood or a 5 iron for mid-handicap golfers before you head for eight successive Par 4s.

Hole 11 (SI 3) 386 yards Par 4 is time for your driver which will still leave you needing a mid-iron unless you are a really good golfer.

Hole 12 (SI 1) 434 yards Par 4 is the hardest hole on the course demanding an accurate drive and an equally good second to reach in two.

Hole 13 (SI 5) 399 yards Par 4 continues the demand for two good shots to reach the green.

Hole 14 (SI 11) 384 yards Par 4 is slightly shorter and it is important to maintain your concentration.

Hole 15 (SI 17) 356 yards Par 4 asks much the same of you even though it is shorter again.

Hole 16 (SI 9) 366 yards Par 4 will again test you with its second shot requirement as long as you have hit the fairway

Hole 17 (SI 7) 351 yards Par 4 is no easier but you should know exactly the iron you need by this time in the round.

Hole 18 (SI 15) 357 yards Par 4 is a great finishing hole with a Guinness awaiting you in the clubhouse.

Total: 6056 yards Par 70

Code Of Conduct at Holywood Golf Course

Holywood Golf Course takes a relaxed attitude to dress accepting that jeans are commonly worn everywhere so they are welcome in the Clubhouse.

Everyone is expected to follow common course etiquette which includes avoiding slow play and repairing divots and pitch marks.

The Facilities

Recent refurbishments have upgraded both the locker rooms and the clubhouse itself. There is a fitness gym available to visitors and a high tech golf academy section

There are three bars while the restaurant, named 1904 after the year of foundation, enjoys lovely with views of Belfast Lough. The lounge is used for functions and snacks are available for you in there.

The spike bar accepts golfers straight off the course without having to change with major sporting events shown on TV.

An area dedicated to Rory McIlroy is found within the clubhouse and many a review of Holywood Golf Course mentions enjoying reading more about his achievements.

Green Fees and Rentals

You can book a round online with tee-times available most days.

Visitor green fees are £75, but if you’re golfing at Holywood Golf Course with a member it’s £20. Members of the Irish golfing authorities, the GUI and the ILGU, can play for £45 and U18s for £12 or £8 for 9 holes.

Those interested in just 9 holes will have to pay £25 as GUI and ILGU members and just £12 if playing with a member.

If you want to use a buggy, contact the professional shop for details.

Find Holywood Golf Club on the map, here

Enjoy a Round at Holywood Golf Course

Holywood Golf Course is a great choice for those visiting and staying in Belfast. It is a course that demands accuracy but does not expect golfers to hit the ball great distances off the tee to reach the fairway.

If you enjoy the idea of playing on a course where ”greats” have played then Holywood is your place because McIlroy has trodden these fairways hundreds of times.