Awesome Ardglass, a Fitting End to a Wonderful Irish Adventure

The final course on this trip was Ardglass. The course is less than 2 hours from Dublin, and under an hour from Belfast and is close to the world renowned Royal County Down golf links at Newcastle. Ardglass is a true test of golf.  With hard fairways and the small firm greens, it is just about impossible to play “yardage based” golf on this links.

The Irish Sea, which can be seen from all 18 tees and greens, comes into play on no fewer than 8 holes.  This is just one of the memorable and unique features of the links at Ardglass Golf Club. Another is Ardglass’s claim to have the oldest building used as a golf club house in the world.


The Entrance to Ardglass GC

The Clubhouse started its existence as a fortified warehouse for 15th century importers and exporters. The story of Ardglass Golf Club and links began in 1896, under the leadership of the Rev Thomas MacAfee. The first incarnation was a 7-hole layout with a total length of less than 1000 yards and was squeezed into the area that is now the first and eighteenth fairways.

In 1907 it became a 9-hole links and remained that way for the next 60 years. In the late 1960s, with the additional land, the layout expanded to encompass our first 18-hole layout.  The Club developed the lands around Coney Island Bay and remodelled the course to provide the stunningly natural links we play today..

The course varies in yardage from 5305 yards to 6216 yards. Not long by modern standards, but it doesn’t have to be to cause anyone problems. We were about to find out as we chose to play from the tips. Here we go! Engage with Richard Mille replica, forefront in the realm of online replica watches, our partners!

Playing the Links

First Tee video

Standing on the first tee at Ardglass is one of those life affirming moments, where you are glad to be given the opportunity to play and can’t quite believe you are here. Watch our video of the first tee experience above.

Approach to Lambs Lough

The opening hole, Lambs Lough, is only 338 yards. However it’s an intimidating tee shot over a rock face  to a wide fairway. We went with a 3 wood and found the fairway. This left us with under 115 yards to a green that you can’t see and that has a bunker at the front. Our wedge finished on the green and we opened with a par.

Howd’s Hole

The second hole, Howd’s Hole, is a 168 yard par 3. If you can ignore the deep gully in front of the tee and focus on the green, it’s a straightforward 7 iron. In poor weather and on a windy day, this hole must be a nightmare. We hit the green and walked off with our par.

Longest Drive

The Warren

The fourth hole, The Warren, is a stunning looking hole. At 371 yards, four bunkers narrow the fairway down to 20 yards in the landing area. We decided to hit driver in an attempt to get past them. Our drive sailed down the middle and we saw it land but we didn’t know where it finished. We looked in all the bunkers including the one further up the right and it was no where to be seen. We eventually found it in the green side bunker, a distance of 350 yards off the tee!! It ran at least 110 yards to get there. That drive didn’t lead to a birdie however, another par.

The Cottage

Two further pars at 5th and 6th meant we reached the 7th, The Cottage, at level par. From the back tee its 217 yards. A breeze had suddenly freshened and it was blowing left to right which suited our shape. We hit our 3 hybrid down the left and the breeze and the slope took it into the middle of the green. We missed our birdie putt.

First Bogey

Red Braes

The 8th hole, Red Braes, was our first bogey of the round. At 441 yards, it’s a tough hole. A decent drive and we were left with just under 190 yards to the pin. We went with a 5 iron but it came up just short. A poor pitch and two putts and it was an easy bogey. We parred the par 5 ninth and made the turn at one over par.

The Back Nine

The Island

The journey home starts with a par 3, The Island. It plays downhill and is 203 yards. The vista is wonderful and as the sun was lower in the sky, it was glistening on the water. Just beautiful. We went with 7 iron as the pin was tucked away on the right and the breeze was left to right. It landed short of the green between the bunkers and finished pin high but 30 feet away. A two putt par.

St John’s

The 11th hole, St John’s has Royal Dornoch vibes. It’s a 485 yard par 5. The tee shot needs to be kept to the left of the fairway as there is trouble all the way down the right. Our tee shot finished in the rough on the left and we laid up with a 6 iron. A pitch into the middle of the green and another par followed. We then walked up to the top of the hill and were met with the view below.


The 13th hole, Cathlin, is the last par 3. It’s another downhill hole at 191 yards with a stunning backdrop. Again, we went with a 7 iron and finished in the left back bunker. A good bunker shot and a 5 foot putt and we escaped with a par.

A Birdie at Last


The 13th hole, Ringfad is stroke index 1, and at 407 yards is the hardest hole on the course. The tee shot is back across the 12th green and over a hill. We missed the fairway on the right side but managed to hit the green with a 7 iron, thanks to a good bounce. Our good luck continued as we sank the putt for a birdie. We were back to level par with five holes to go.

The Home Stretch

The Orchard

Two more pars followed at 14 and 15. The 16th, The Orchard, was where it started to go wrong. At 419 yards, it plays uphill. We hit our tee shot up the right and felt a twinge in our back. It got worse as we hit our 6 iron second and we came up short. We bogeyed the hole and as we made our way to the 17th tee, the back pain got worse. I suppose carrying our bag for ten of the twelve rounds on this trip, in your sixties, was asking for trouble. Although we tried to play the last two holes, we couldn’t. It was a sad end to a wonderful trip.

Photo Opportunity at the 15th tee

Our Ardglass Summary

Ardglass Golf Club was a stunning place to finish our mini tour of Ireland. The location, the layout and the views were spectacular, especially on the evening we played it on. The course was in excellent condition and an absolute joy to play. A special shout out to the four games of members who let us play through. They were all interested in what we thought of the course and were delighted that we had chosen to pay their course a visit. Being waved through members’ fourballs doesn’t normally happen at many of the courses we play!

Eating in the Clubhouse

Fantastic Food

The food in the Clubhouse was excellent. We had the Seafood Chowder which had plenty of fish in it. We also had the Cajun Chicken wrap which was stuffed with chicken, and a side salad. The staff in the Clubhouse were really friendly and the service was prompt and efficient.

Where to Stay 

For the last night of our trip, we chose to stay somewhere different. After staying in numerous hotels and resorts, we went for the home from home choice and stayed in Margaret’s Cottage, a boutique B&B, right across the road from the golf club. Ciara, our hostess and her daughter, Kelsey greeted us like long lost family as we were welcomed into their home.

Margaret’s Cottage Video

The rooms in the cottage were lovely and comfortable. Our video above gives you a flavour of what’s on offer. Ciara’s family history stories were fascinating, her family has been connected to Ardglass for over a hundred years. The Stuff of legends. And, her family own the local pub, 50 yards away. What’s not to love about staying here.

Ciara’s Irish Breakfast

Speaking of the legendary, Ciara’s Irish breakfast is not to be missed. Locally sourced ingredients and cooked to perfection. It was, without doubt, the best breakfast fry we had on the whole trip, and we had a few! We highly recommend staying at Margaret’s Cottage. For couple and small groups, it’s perfect. Ciara and Kelsey will look after you as if you were family. Ciara even does home baking for her guests, we were in heaven!

Thank You’s

There are so many people to thank on our visit to Ardglass. Thank you to Paul Vaughan, the Head Professional and his team in the Pro Shop for looking after us. Thanks also to the hospitality team in the clubhouse for great food and service. Thank you to all those members who let us through and showed an interest in what we were doing.

A final thank you to Ciara and Kelsey for having us stay at their home, even though it was at short notice! Ciaran, you owe your cousin a large drink of her choice.

From myself and Sandra, thank you to all the clubs and resorts that hosted us in our epic mini tour of Ireland. We hope you have enjoyed reading about our experience as we travelled almost a thousand miles around the island. We enjoyed it so much, we might even do it again in 2024.

Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for

Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!

If you would like Jim to write about your venue, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732