Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 25 May 2016

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Royal Co Down voted best golf course in the world

By Colin O'Carroll

Published 06/01/2016

Star power: Rory McIlroy attracted big names like Rickie Fowler (left) and Martin Kaymer (right)
Star power: Rory McIlroy attracted big names like Rickie Fowler (left) and Martin Kaymer (right)
Some 20,000 spectators thronged a windswept but still spectacular Royal Co Down to watch some of golf’s best players slug it out in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
The Mourne mountains provide a striking backdrop to Royal Co Down

Not only does Northern Ireland have some of the world's top golfers - it now also has the best golf course in the world.

Royal County Down (RCD) has been voted the number one layout in the world - ahead of the renowned Augusta National, venue for the US Masters.

Top magazine Golf Digest puts RCD at number one out of 100 courses around the globe, ahead of Augusta at number two.

The panel of almost 200 golf experts praises the links layout as a deserving winner of the No 1 accolade and says seaside courses are returning to popularity.

The respected magazine said: "That includes Northern Ireland's Royal County Down, a surprising though deserving new No 1, replacing New Jersey's Pine Valley, which has plenty of sand but no ocean and is now No 3 on our exclusive list.

"Royal County Down, on rugged, windblown topography along the Irish Sea and beneath the Mountains of Mourne, features snarling bunkers edged by marram grass and dates from 1889."

Royal County Down moves up from fourth position in last year's list and it's likely that the profile generated by its staging of the Irish Open last May played a role in its ascent to the number one spot.

Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and others have played it either as part of their preparation for the Open Championship or just for sheer enjoyment, and Rory McIlroy is a frequent visitor.

The Senior Open Championship was held at Royal County Down three years in a row from 2000 to 2002.

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