36 Golf Links Rd,
Newcastle, Co. Down BT33 0AN
18 holes. Seaside links. Undulating terrain - several slopes to climb.
Annesley Links was first mentioned (in the R&A Handbooks) in 1929. It was described as a nine-hole "relief" course to the main 18-hole championship course. By 1932 it had grown to a full 18-holes, again with no mention of who designed the holes. Significant modifications were made by Donald Steel (1997), and Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert (2014).
Above distances are for the Annesley Links. Also at Royal County Down is the 18-hole Championship Links (par-71; 7206 yds from back tees; rating 75.9).
30 miles S of Belfast
Royal County Down is located at the northern end of Newcastle town centre and close to the sea, behind the Slieve Donard Hotel. From the A2 at northern end of Newcastle, follow town centre sign. Then turn left into Railway Street and left again into Golf Links Road. After o.2 miles golf entrance is in front of you.
Royal County Down Golf Club's Annesley Links may weigh-in at just over 4,500 yards, but the club's No.2 course punches well above its length. It's tight fairways, small greens and heather-trimmed bunkering present a worthy test for high and low handicappers alike ... surely one of the world's greatest sub-5,000 yard layouts.
The par-67 Annesley Links offers a thoroughly enjoyable challenge. In common with its big brother, the Championship Links, you'll find excellently prepared playing surfaces, plenty of rolling undulations, elevated square-cut teeing grounds, and an abundance of stunning sea and mountain views. There's also plenty of gorse-clad dunes to avoid. What's missing in the younger sibling, is the prodigious length of big bro, and (perhaps thankfully) fewer blind drives ... although there are a few.
The rolling terrain and relatively narrow fairways of the Annesley lead you towards small sloping greens, where slick run-offs are not uncommon. The middle section of the layout wraps around the far end of the Championship course, where the dunes are at their biggest, and the sea views at their best. With five par-3s in total, including back-to-back par-3s at 13 and 14, and several short par-4s in the mix, you'd be well advised to keep the safety catch on your driver, at least until the final quartet of par-4s. Here, on this closing stretch, big hitters might fancy a tilt at a birdie or two.
Pick of the holes: the rifle-straight par-4 10th plays directly alongside Newcastle Beach on Dundrum Bay. From an elevated tee, the hole is gloriously framed by sea-views on your right, and an immense sand dune on your left. The green, like the tee, is nicely but challengingly elevated. The short par-3 11th is also a stunner, played from a tee with the beach directly below. Stretching out to your right is a spectacular dunescape, as far as the eye can see. Room for a few more Royal County Downs!?
Stay&Play at Royal County Down: luxury onsite accommodation available, see Where2Stay section below.
Visitors welcome on weekdays and weekends.
Must book in advance.
Credit cards accepted. Contact club for full details, discounts, packages, etc. [Last updated: 2023].
This is a walking course. Caddies available. Golf carts (buggies) are not permitted.
The Annesley Links takes its name from Lord Annesley, whose family owned the ground on which a basic nine-hole golf course (the Warren) existed in the 1880s. In 1889, with the advent of a railway connecting Belfast with the town of Newcastle, plans were prepared by George L. Baillie (from Royal Belfast Golf Club) to transform the Warren into the first nine holes of the new County Down Golf Club. Later in 1889 and 1890, Old Tom Morris was invited to extend Baillie's new nine-hole layout into a full 18-hole course, which became today's Championship Links.
The Annesley Links was originally laid out around 1928/29 as a relief course to the main championship course. By 1932 the Annesley had grown to 18 holes.
Slieve Donard, the luxury neighbouring hotel, is named after the highest mountain of the Mourne Mountains, and highest in Northern Ireland. The Mourne Mountains create the iconic backdrop to the links courses of Royal County Down.
Ireland's No.1 course (Golf World, 2023).
Britain & Ireland's 2nd best course (Golf World, 2022).
World's 6th best course (GOLF Magazine, 2023/24) and 2nd best public access course (Golf World, 2023).
Ireland's 36th best course.
Britain & Ireland's 191st best course.
Downs Road, Newcastle, Co. Down BT33 0AH
+44 (0)28 4372 1006Visit website
This grand and iconic hotel opened in 1897 and was originally called the Newcastle Hotel, described at that time as "the most modern and best equipped hotel in Ireland" - a standard it is never far away from to this day. The sea and mountain views from the hotel are spectacular.
Royal County Down (Championship and Annesley Links).
Ardglass (21 miles)
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To secure the best rates and ensure availability, it's recommended to book your rental car in advance, especially during peak golfing season.
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