Golf courses

Practice on Ireland’s best golf courses and walk in the footsteps of Rory McIlroy

STANDING on the imposing seventh tee of the Faldo Course at Lough Erne admiring the breathtaking views of the Fermanagh Lake District can have a calming influence.

But a glimpse of the adjacent plate indicates that Rory McIlroy has already driven the green on the 396-yard par four – aptly named Devenish Drop – and the blood soon begins to pump when you reach the driver.


Dungannon Golf Club, Northern Ireland
Score at last hole


Score at last hole
Lough Erne Golf Resort


Lough Erne Golf Resort
The seaside resort of Lough Erne and a statue of Nick Faldo, who designed the new course


The seaside resort of Lough Erne and a statue of Nick Faldo, who designed the new course

I hit my effort safely on the fairway in the valley below and while it didn’t threaten the Northern Irishman’s distance or accuracy, in truth I was just happy he was still in sight as I grabbed my bag and walked down the hill.

Water comes into play on 11 of the course’s 18 holes, designed by the six-time major winner and webbed feet would certainly have come in handy for points.

The course winds around the five-star luxury hotel, spa and popular wedding venue just outside Enniskillen, midway between the top and bottom of Lough Erne.

Our round saw us leave early and, with the place to ourselves, we immersed ourselves in this 7,000 meter course from the first intriguing holes along the water’s edge and into thick forest with the midday sun. morning that weaves its way through the treetops. above.

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Greens in perfect condition and holes guarded by deep and steep bunkers even before reaching the 16th “Faldo Turn”, which offers magnificent panoramic views of the estate.

No wonder it’s a paradise for golfers and tourists who want to enjoy first-class courses and award-winning hospitality.

Everyone knows that the 19th hole is as important as any other. A cold, creamy pint of the Blaney Bar’s dark stuff was just reward after a true test of the game.

We were treated to a hearty chat with the resort’s Culinary Director, Noel McMeel, who worked his magic with tasty creations using local produce – including rhubarb from his own garden – washed down with another refreshing Guinness .

All his talents were on display in the famous Catalina restaurant on the second night of our stay, with fine dining and supreme levels of service reflecting the rapidly growing reputation this place is earning.

Breakfast was also a full affair with plenty of fuel for those heading into a day on the course. A mention should also go to the Loughside Bar and Grill, which is the perfect place to relax after lunch and talk about nailed drives, solid irons and perfect putts from a busy morning.

It’s no surprise to hear Lough Erne mentioned by enthusiasts alongside better-known Irish locations like Druids Glen, Adare Manor and The K-Club.

As you turn off the main road and enter the resort you pass Castle Hume, the other fantastic course on site.

There are further unique challenges from this – another parkland course with a variety of greens that are contoured and also maintained to a very high standard.

A beautiful open-air terrace on the clubhouse overlooking the last green provides a great gallery to reflect and share stories with refreshment and watch others return from their expeditions.

Of course, dry land is the best place to be if you prepare a good scorecard.

But in an area of ​​such extensive wetlands, there are other things to do ON the water rather than in it.

Take a water taxi across beautiful Loch Erne


Take a water taxi across beautiful Loch Erne
Mark and buddy at Devenish Island


Mark and buddy at Devenish Island

A short boat ride ( from the public jetty – located about ten minutes walk from the hotel reception – allows you to have the wind in your sails. Take a tour of Lough Erne and visit Devenish Island itself.

When Brian, our skipper, docked at the pier, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity around what looked like the set from an episode of Father Ted.

However, Devenish is one of Ireland’s most important monastic sites and has an eye-catching round tower rising 81ft. If even half of Brian’s myths and legends – interspersed with weird facts for good measure – were true, this place is definitely worth a visit.

Although don’t let it convince you to spin inside the ruins with your eyes closed and make wishes, as it drew some weird looks from other tourists and even a rye smile from Brian himself.

It was then with the engines on and heading up the lake into the heart of Enniskillen itself for a quick visit and after a few more tales of the old days we were brought safely back to dry land at the jetty of the Lough Erne.

Enniskillen is about an hour and a half drive from Belfast Airport, and not too far off the beaten track, so you can enjoy some of the other golf courses along the way.


GETTING THERE: Direct flights are available from a number of Scottish airports to the two main airports in Northern Ireland – Belfast City and Belfast International. Flights cost from £46 per person one way. See
STAYING THERE: One night BB in a double room at Lough Erne Resort is from £199 (two people sharing). See
MORE INFO: Lough Erne Golf Resort: Faldo Course green fees from £35 per person. See; Castle Hume Golf Club ( green fees from £20 per person; Templepatrick GC ( green fees from £70 pp and Dungannon GC ( Green fees from £20 per person. For more information on playing golf on the island of Ireland see

We had the pleasure of calling to play at Dungannon Golf Club – the home of Darren Clarke. A flat and engaging opening nine that then climbs into difficulty on the back nine with a more physical test.

The awkward par-three 9th hole – designed by Clarke himself – features a tee shot that lets you try to reach a green that is fully protected by a pond in front. It has a great reputation and is well worth the visit.

Elsewhere, if you’re looking for a relaxed game in beautiful surroundings with charming accommodation and hospitality, the Hilton Templepatrick Hotel and Golf Club should also be on your list.

This resort on the Castle Upton estate, a short drive from the airport, is undergoing a multi-million pound redevelopment which will build on fantastic existing facilities.

It will take over the DoubleTree brand from Hilton and become the Kingfisher Country Estate.

The rooms have already received a modern makeover, with the owners planning further upgrades as the project progresses.

It benefits from a magnificent well maintained golf course.
The rough is unforgiving, but it’s a great test and not too out of the way if you’re in the Belfast area.

Unfortunately, we only had time to play the back nine during our quick stop.

But it gave us a good feel for the place and with exciting plans for the future we hope to return to play the rest and enjoy all the resort has to offer.

And who knows, maybe with a little more practice I can get my name inscribed on a plaque somewhere.

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