Royal Portrush Golf Club, Northern Ireland

You might know the course but not the name; Golf’s most famous architects.

Many elements must be carefully combined to create a challenging, stunning and enjoyable golf course, not only to design a great layout but also to manage the team and understand the local environment. To highlight the fantastic work of some golf architects and understand better the greens you are going to test; we’ve made a list of the best golf courses architects.


Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

Robert Trent Jones is probably one of the most repeated names in golf architecture, and not only because his father was also a well-known architect, but it’s also because in a career spanning over 50 years he built more than 300 courses all over the world. Some of these golf courses are The Real Club Valderrama, an exclusive golf course located in the south of Spain, Troia at Portugal, and even the 11th and 16th holes at Augusta National Golf Club. 

After so many years, and with the help of his team, “Bobby” Trent Jones has developed a bold style of bunker patterns, wherein he mixes a classical theme with sophisticated and modern shapes. Also, his golf courses have blended perfectly with the local environment but always keep refined sense. Some of his famous trademarks are narrow fairways, bold bunkers protecting the holes and raised greens that will engage you with every hole. 


Pete and Alice Dye

The American architect, Pete Dye, once said, “Golf is not a fair game, so why build a course fair?”, and he meant it. Pete Dye designed more than 100 golf courses and many of them with his wife Alice Dye. Their golf courses constantly challenge you without relent. Some of their key elements are narrow greens, hazards and trees strategically placed to keep the game exciting and “unfair”.

Some of the golf courses that have the Dye’s signature are Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean) in the USA, a delightful link where the green blends into the sand of the beach; and Golf de Barbaroux at France, with seven significant water hazards and numerous bunkers. Also, their children have joined the family business, with his son Perry Dye having designed Parco di Roma in Italy, amongst other great courses. 


Henry S. Colt

Have you ever arrived at Royal Portrush Golf Club, planned your stroke carefully at the 5th hole, a downhill par four with a left to right dogleg, and thought, “whoever designed this golf course must be a genius!” Well, all the credit goes to Henry S. Colt!

After studying at Clare College, Cambridge, Harry Colt quit his job as a lawyer to become a golf architect – and we’re grateful he did! The English architect has been involved in the design of over 300 golf courses,  115 of his own creation, including the mentioned redesign of Royal Portrush Golf Club. He did many relevant modifications such as the two new holes in an area known as “The Triangle”, and the 5th hole, called “WhiteRocks”.


Ida Nixon

The professional career of Ida Nixon wasn’t as plenteous as her aforementioned peers, since she only had the chance to design one golf course in her life. In 1904, the American architect designed an 18-hole golf course for The Springhaven Club. With impeccable fairways and greens, The Springhaven Club is suitable for golfers of any level. 

Her work at The Springhaven Club made her part of golfing history as the first female architect of golf courses in the world. 


Allan Robertson

The master architect of the world-famous golf course St. Andrews was mother nature. Besides her though, we have to credit the amazing work of Allan Robertson. In 1848, the Scottish architect made wide fairways, created the challenging Road Hole green and the famous giant double green, remarkable hazards that all golfers remember when they visit St. Andrews – apart from the windy weather. 

Robertson also designed the golf courses Carnoustie and Monifieth, both in Scotland. Also, he shared his knowledge with a young Old Tom Morris, an impressive golfer and an exceptional golf course architect in his own right. 

How the Northern Irish golf industry is fostering female inclusivity

With only 1.88 million inhabitants, Northern Ireland is the least populated country in the UK. Even so, it is home to almost 100 golf courses, has some of the best links in Europe and entertains golfers from all over the world. For these reasons, it has been the target of organisations looking to increase the inclusivity of golf for everyone’s enjoyment. 

Little by little, the golf industry is taking steps to be more gender-inclusive by offering dedicated tuition for women and girls or trying to make easier membership requirements to increase their ladies’ sections. 

In Northern Ireland, organisations such as the R&A’s Women in Golf Charter are developing a more inclusive culture within golf as well as making more opportunities for women and girls in the golf scene. 

These initiatives are seeing positive results in the industry, since the latest full report of the Irish Sports Monitor, unveiled in May 2018, showed that the number of women actively participating in the game increased from 0.9% in 2015 to 1.2% in 2017, while overall golf participation rose from 2.3% to 2.5%.  

Under the claim “Made for golf”, Northern Ireland is taking advantage of its natural green charm and is investing in the golf industry. Whether you’re seeking a championship experience, dramatically scenic settings, a slice of history, links or parkland, or simply idyllic tranquillity, Northern Ireland has it all. 

If you are going to the north of the emerald island, there are two golf courses everyone should visit: Portstewart Golf Club and Royal Portrush Golf Club.


Portstewart Golf Club (Strand)

At Portstewart Golf Club, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Belfast City Airport

Located at the seaside, Portstewart Golf Course has been hosting golf games since 1889 and had significant development in the 1980s to divide the link into three mighty courses: The Old Course, The Strand and The Riverside. The Strand course opened in 1992 following the designs of the architect Des Giffin, who updated Willie Park’s original layout mixing the new and the old concept. 

Keeping the essence of the Northern Irish coast, with gigantic dunes and a beautiful panoramic view of the Atlantic, Giffin placed strategic challenges to make a golf course with many excellent holes and thoroughly enjoyable. The first hole is an intimidating downhill 425-yard par four. Additionally, the 3rd hole is a long single shot of 207-yards; and the 6th, with a plateau green, will stay in your mind for a long time.


Royal Portrush Golf Club

At Royal Portrush Golf Club, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Belfast City Airport

Portrush is a charming and colourful small town where many Northern Irish people go for a coastal break from city life. Not far from the city and near to Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway, you’ll find the Royal Portrush Golf Club. The link is blessed with an ocean view and, if it’s clear, you can see the Paps of Jura. 

When it was founded in 1888, the link used to have 9 holes but, after a few reformations, it ended up having 18 holes. The last redesign of the course was by the architect Harry S. Colt in 1932, making many relevant modifications such as the two new holes in an area known as “The Triangle”. Also, the 5th hole, called “WhiteRocks”, is one most praised holes in the link, a downhill par four with a left to right dogleg.  

How will Brexit affect my golf holiday?

With Brexit, the United Kingdom and the European Union have a new political relationship, which establishes new agreements and arrangements. These new policies change the way we’ve been travelling and visiting European golf courses and might make you wonder how Brexit will affect your next golf holiday.

Even if since the 31st of January the UK is no longer part of the EU, British golf players travelling abroad haven’t experienced any critical changes in their holiday arrangements yet. You won’t have needed a visa to enter an EU country or had to pay extra charges, and it’s because travelling conditions will stay the same until the end of the current transition period. 


What is the transition period and how long it will take?

The transition period goes from the 31st of January 2020 until the end of December 2020, meaning that the UK is considered an independent country from the European Union. However, many agreements decided before this stage will still be active, especially the ones related to travellers. After the transition period, the United Kingdom and the EU will have new rules and agreements that haven’t yet been defined.


Do British citizens need a visa to travel to the EU?

The first question that comes to the mind of many British golfers planning their golf break in a European country is: will I need a visa to travel to Europe? The answer is no. Well, not for now. During the transition period, British citizens won’t need to get a visa if they’re going to stay as a tourist for up to 90 days in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Therefore, if you’re planning to travel after the 1st of January 2021, it’s likely that you need more requirements that the ones you have required for now and British citizens might have to pay for ‘visa-exempt travel’. Also, the European Union will implement the European Travel Information and Authorization System (Etias) by 2022, a specific programme for non-EU citizens that would like to travel in Europe, including British citizens. The application for Etias will cost 7 Euros.


Do I need a new passport?

After the transition period, if the expiration date is shorter than 6 months or if it’s more than 10 years old, you’ll need to renew your British passport. Keep in mind that replacing your passport usually takes 3 weeks. 


What will I need to travel after Brexit?

Currently, many non-EU citizens need to show their return ticket and prove that they have enough money for their stay and it’s possible that Britons will have to fulfil the same requirement after the transition period. Once at border control, British citizens will have to queue in different lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. Besides, when travelling between the UK and the EU, you’ll need to declare cash of £10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency).


How long can I stay in the EU?

If you are planning to live in an eternal golf break, you might keep in mind that British citizens will be able to stay as a tourist for up to 90 days in any 180 days in an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. 


How will Brexit affect travel insurance?

Until the end of 2020, citizens with the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) are entitled to have healthcare in any EEA member state as well as Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. 

Therefore, it’s always recommended to have travel insurance that covers your healthcare and pre-existing medical condition.


What will happen to roaming charges after Brexit?

After the transition period, the guarantee of free-roaming for British mobiles in EU countries will stop. We recommend you check the new terms with your phone operator to avoid any weird bills from getting that perfect photo for the ‘Gram. However, a new law protects you from getting phone charges over £45 without you knowing.


Brexit brings new policies when it comes to crossing borders, but once you arrive at the golf course, the enjoyable golf rounds with your friends will be the same. 

We hope we’ve covered your questions about travelling or planning a golf break after Brexit. In case you need more details, you can find more advice here:

If you are going on a golf holiday after the 1st of January 2021, we recommend visiting to check the latest news about Brexit. 

5 great links: Golf courses near the beach

When you’re going on golf holidays with your friends or golf club, you want to make the most of your break: test yourself on the greens, enjoy a stunning view and get some vitamin D at the beach maybe. With spring and summer in your mind, you might want your next location to be close to the sea, so you can dive into the water and relax on the sand after improving your swing the golf course. For this blog post, we’ve selected some amazing and sunny courses near the coast that you should visit on your next golf break.


Vale do Lobo (Royal), Portugal

At Vale do Lobo, approximately 30 minutes away from Faro Airport

The Vale do Lobo is the most photographed golf course in Portugal and it’s one of the most beautiful courses in the Algarve. Right next to the Atlantic, the 18-hole link is the closest course to the sea in the south of Portugal, you can even see the golden sand of the beach right at the end of the green. Although the views are mesmerizing, being so close to the beach might add an extra difficulty: the wind. Sometimes you can have a nice and refreshing breeze from the Atlantic or the strong wind can give you a hard time and change the trajectory of the ball.

Established in 1997, Vale do Lobo (Royal) was designed by the American architect Rocky Roquemore, based on the original layout of Sir Henry Cotton. The link was built at the edge of a cliff on top of the Vale do Lobo beach and it extends further inland. The most remarkable hole in the course, and probably in the Algarve, is the par-three 16th, located on the top of the cliff.


Aphrodite Hills Golf Club, Cyprus

At Aphrodite Hills, approximately 15 minutes away from Paphos Airport

Named after the Greek goddess of love that emerged from the sea, Aphrodite Hills Golf Club is located near the Mediterranean shore, at the sunny island of Cyprus. A little bit further from the coast than Vale do Lobo, the view of the sea from this course is still stunning, being only 5 minutes away from the Ranti Forest Beach. 

The golf course was designed by the American architect Cabell B. Robinson and he considered Aphrodite Hills the culmination of his work. The golf course was built on two-level landforms separated by a canyon, two difficulties that the architect took advantage of to create memorable holes such as the 3rd and the 7th. In Aphrodite Hills Golf Club, Robinson integrates hazards and ponds on the greens with the local Mediterranean nature of the landscape. 


Finca Cortesin Golf Resort, Spain

At Finca Cortesin, approximately 1 hour away from Málaga Airport

The Finca Cortesin is situated between the Estepona Mountains and just a few metres away from the Mediterranean shore: an 18-hole link surrounded by an outstanding landscape. Located in the south of Spain and with an average temperature of 20C in spring, it’s a great destination to enjoy a sangria at La Galera beach (just 10 minutes away) after an enjoyable golf game with your friends. 

Therefore, not only do the views make Finca Cortesin a magnificent course, the abundance of details in the greens round off an elegant and challenging course. The link keeps the balance between the natural characteristics of the Mediterranean forest and high-quality Bermuda grass. The course is designed with white marble sand bunkers and water hazards placed strategically to make every hole a different and exciting challenge for the golfers.


Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort, Bulgaria

At Thracian Cliffs, approximately 1 hour away from Varna Airport

Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort is the most photographed golf course in Europe. Built on the top of a cliff and with a stunning view, the Thracian Cliffs is a unique golf experience: Golfers can see the sea from every hole of the course. Sitting on the top of the cliff and with the Black Sea behind, the 6th hole will be the most memorable hole for any player, not only because of its difficulty but for the impressive views of the waves.

Gary Player designed a course suitable for all levels, but still challenging enough for the expert golfers, it requires analysis of the green and careful planning of each stroke. Hazards of sand, narrow fairways and even the edge of the cliff are some difficulties that will make players prove themselves.


Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean), USA

At Kiawah Island Golf Resort, approximately 50 minutes away from Charleston Airport

On the coast of South Carolina, the ground slinks into the Ocean making parcels of land almost independent islands that disappear in the water. Between these parcels of land, the architects Pete and Alice Dye designed the Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean), a delightful link where the green blends into the sand of the beach. 

At this majestic spot, Alice Dye wanted the players to enjoy the Ocean view while they were playing in the 23,028 feet golf course. Narrow greens, hazards and oaks are strategically placed to keep the game exciting, but once again, the wind is the biggest challenge the golfer will have to overcome. It has a key role when it comes to making a successful stroke and makes each round different and stimulating.