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.