Royal County Down Golf Club Championship Course: Review, Green Fees, Tee Times and Key Info

One of the most photographed courses in the world, Royal County Down boasts arguably the most spectacular setting of any traditional links

Royal County Down 4th hole
The 3rd and 4th holes at Royal County Down with the Mountains of Mourne beyond
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

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(Image credit: Future)

Royal County Down Championship Golf Course Key Information

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Address36 Golf Links Rd, Newcastle, County Down, BT33 0AN
Phone Number+44 (0) 28 4372 3314
Green Fees£325 per round peak season, from £150 in winter months
Visitor TimesLimited tee times, contact club
Slope Rating142 (Blue), 131 (White), 126 (Yellow)
Designed byGeorge L, Baillie, Old Tom Morris, George Combe, Harry Vardon, Harry Colt
Golf Monthly Verdict

Royal County Down - Hole 3

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thanks to a combination of the towering Mountains of Mourne as the backdrop to many holes and the Irish sea flanking the opening trio, the visual appeal is hard to surpass.

When the gorse is in bloom and the sun is out, there’s no lovelier place to play. The overall golfing experience matches the course's rich pedigree, with many standout holes along the way, including the much-photographed par-3 4th from an elevated tee. 


– Simply one of the most highly regarded links courses in the world

– The Mountains of Mourne and the town provide a stirring backdrop

– An exhilarating, yet challenging rollercoaster ride through the dunes via blind tests and some gloriously natural bunkering


UK & Ireland Top 100 Golf Courses 2023/24 - 1

A combination of a towering mountain range in the backdrop on many holes and the Irish sea flanking the opening three makes for visual appeal that is hard to surpass.

Now over a century and a quarter old, this fabled links in Newcastle on the County Down coast is not only one of the best links courses in the UK but also one of the best on the planet, ranking 1st in Golf Monthly's list of the top 100 golf courses in the UK&I.

RCD, as it's sometimes known, boasts a truly impressive roll call of architectural influences through the ages, starting with Old Tom Morris who first extended the links to 18 holes back in 1890. Since then, Harry Vardon, Harry Colt, Donald Steel, and most recently, Martin Ebert, have all stamped their mark on this truly magical place.

The club boasts arguably the most spectacular setting of any of the UK and Ireland's traditional links. The Mountains of Mourne provide a glorious backdrop throughout with the sea to your right as you head out over a stirring opening stretch. When the gorse is in bloom, there’s no lovelier place to play.

The Championship course provides an exhilarating, yet challenging rollercoaster ride through the dunes via blind tests and some gloriously natural bunkering. Among a strong cast of standout holes are the tough par-3 4th, played from an elevated tee, and the wonderful 9th, with its blind drive back towards town via a hidden fairway some 60ft below. There’s always a real sense of anticipation both here and on the 11th as you stride over the crests to see if your drive is as perfect as your eye saw it.

Some of the most recent changes have included the filling in of the triangular pond a little way short of the 17th green, which some found a little incongruous, and the lowering of a dune ridge on the 2nd to facilitate a better view up to the green.

While some modern-day golfers may rail against blind shots and holes, surely even the most ardent ‘see it all in front of you’ campaigner will get a huge thrill making their way around this breath-taking links.

The club is also home to the short but delightful Annesley Links, which also ranks among the best golf courses in Northern Ireland.

Royal County Down par-3 4th hole

The par-3 4th hole with the gorse in bloom

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What The Top 100 Panel Said

Chris Boakes Golf Monthly Top 100 panel
Chris Boakes

The true player who can craft all manner of shots is the only likely victor on this ultimate links test. There are numerous standout holes, but the first par 3 at the 4th sums up everything on offer with a 200-yard carry over gorse and heather and rippling green undulations and run-off areas, all finished off with a multitude of bunkers. Simple brilliance in the use of the natural terrain.

Nicholas Hercules UK&I Top 100 panel
Nicholas Hercules

RCD is a very fair test of golf. The bunkering is highly visual on the eye and plays a large part in framing many a hole. There is a stunning set of par 3s, all at varying distances, the shortest of which is full of peril. The links is forever turning and twisting, which just adds to the delight as one hole is as majestic as the previous.

Royal County Down Golf Course Location

Royal County Down Championship Course Green Fees

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February 2023£150
March 2023£170
April 2023£195
May to Sept 2023 weekdays£325
May to Sept 2023 Sunday afternoons£325
May to Sept 2023 two rounds in a day£425

Contact the secretary's office to book

Royal County Down Championship Course Scorecard

Royal County Down Golf Club

(Image credit: Royal County Down Golf Club)

Best Courses Near Royal County Down


Ardglass is a clifftop, seaside beauty embracing glorious views, delicious variety and the sort of extras that deliver a perfect cherry-on-top. How about the oldest clubhouse in the world (built on and around the ruins of a 13th century castle) and cannons behind the 1st tee, perched on the water’s edge?


Too easily forgotten when compared to the mighty Championship course, the Annesley still has much to offer. With a par of just 66 (six par 3s and no par 5s) and conditioning equal to its big sibling there has never been a better warm-up act.

For all the best courses in the area check out our Best Golf Courses in Northern Ireland article.

Best Places To Stay Near Royal County Down

Slieve Donard -  Book now at
With stunning views of the County Down coastline and superb spa facilities, including a 20-yard pool, the four-star Slieve Donard stands in six acres of grounds leading to the Royal County Down Golf Club.

Burrendale Hotel Country Club & Spa - Book now at
A four-star accommodation offering with a spa centre, garden, free private parking and a restaurant and bar.

Hillyard House Hotel - Book now at
Set in Newcastle, Hillyard House Hotel features a shared lounge, restaurant, bar and free WiFi throughout the property.

Royal County Down Championship Course Gallery

Tournaments hosted at Royal County Down

  • Irish Open - 2015
  • The Walker Cup - 2007
  • The Amateur Championship - 1970, 1999
  • The Curtis Cup - 1968
  • Irish Seniors' Open Amateur Championship - 1985, 2005
  • Open Championship of Ireland - 1928, 1935, 1939
  • Irish Open Amateur Championship - 15 times between 1893 and 1959
  • The Home Internationals - 1933, 1957, 1999
  • Irish Professional Championship - 1909, 1914, 1929, 1954
  • Irish Ladies' Close Championship - 10 times between 1896 and 1961
  • Irish Close Amateur Championship - 10 times between 1894 and 1996
  • The Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship - 8 times between 1899 and 2006
  • The Senior Open Championship - 2000, 2001, 2002


  • 2023/24 - 1
  • 2021/22 - 1
  • 2019/20 - 4
  • 2017/18 - 3
  • 2015/16 - 2
  • 2013/14 - 2
  • 2011/12 - 2
  • 2009/10 - 4

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Play Royal County Down?

Royal County Down welcomes visitors five days each week - all day Monday, Tuesday and Friday, as well as Thursday mornings and Sunday afternoons. The only days that visitors cannot play are Wednesdays and Saturdays.

For more information visit the Royal County Down website

How hard is Royal County Down?

The Championship Course at Royal County Down can be an extremely difficult course, especially when the wind gets up. But there are plenty of teeing options available and the slope/course ratings mean that golfers can still have a good chance of playing to handicap if they're playing well.

The men's par is 71 and the ladies' par is 76.

  • Blue tees: 7,204 yards (Slope Rating: 145, Course Rating: 75.9)
  • White tees: 6,925 yards (SR: 136, CR 74.8)
  • Yellow tees: 6,651 yards (SR: 134, CR 73.5)
  • Green tees: 6,249 yards (SR: 130, CR 71.6)
  • Red tees: 6,249 yards (SR 151, 79.4)

Is Royal County Down The Best Golf Course In The World?

While there are no official guidelines as to how the determine which is the best golf course in the world, Royal County Down is considered by many people to be one of the planet's very best layouts and has topped plenty of rankings from various publications. It currently ranks 1st in the Golf Monthly UK&I Top 100 list.

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response