Three Things to Know about Royal County Down Golf Club Before the 2024 Amgen Irish Open
Situated in Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland, is a links paradise that perpetuates the rugged beauty of the region’s coastline, framed by the stunning backdrop of the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea. The Royal County Down Golf Club, steeped in history and revered by golf enthusiasts worldwide, is set to host the prestigious Amgen Irish Open for the fifth time—a special occasion as it returns after a nine-year hiatus, marking only the second time in 85 years.
As a pivotal stop on the 2024 DP World Tour Schedule, this championship is poised to unfold against the picturesque and challenging backdrop of Royal County Down’s Championship course.
Join us as we explore the top three things to know about this iconic destination as it prepares to welcome the world’s best golfers for the much-anticipated 2024 Amgen Irish Open.
Royal County Down Golf Club, with its length and captivating layout, presents a challenging yet mesmerizing terrain for competitors in this year’s championship.
Measuring 7,206 yards from the championship tees, Royal County Down Golf Club plays as a par-71—a length that, while not considered lengthy by contemporary standards, may present a different challenge in the winds of September, potentially playing longer than anticipated.
The course’s unique character is exemplified by its par threes, ranging from the relatively short seventh at 144 yards to the formidable fourth at a striking 229 yards.
In the realm of par fours, eight out of the fourteen extend beyond the 430-yard mark. The pinnacle of this challenge is the signature ninth, a 483-yard marvel that, after a blind tee shot, rewards players with panoramic views of the Slieve Donard Hotel, the Mourne Mountains, and the Irish Sea. On the flip side, the sixteenth, at just 337 yards, offers an enticing opportunity for long-hitting risk-takers, potentially drivable for those daring enough to navigate five deep pot bunkers and surrounding gorse bushes.
As for the par fives, Royal County Down provides a birdie opportunity on each, with all playing under 550 yards and easily reachable in two for most players in the field. However, the journey to these reachable lengths is not without its challenges, as players must navigate a collective 33 pot bunkers scattered strategically between these three holes and contend with the proximity of the Irish Sea along the first fairway.
The length and layout of Royal County Down Golf Club promise an exhilarating test of skill, strategy, and risk-reward dynamics for players in the 2024 Amgen Irish Open.
In 1889, George Baillie, a Scottish schoolteacher, laid the groundwork for Royal County Down Golf Club’s legacy by crafting the initial nine holes. The club’s origins are tied to a time when the railway turned the seaside town of Newcastle into a haven for golfers from around the world.
Guided by the visionary Old Tom Morris, the original 9-hole course underwent a metamorphosis, evolving into a full-fledged 18-hole masterpiece shortly after.
Over the ensuing decades, the course witnessed influential contributions from notable golfers-turned-architects. Harry Vardon, J.H. Taylor, and James Braid, luminaries of the sport, each left an indelible mark, shaping the course’s unique character.
However, the collaborative efforts of George Combe and Harry Colt played perhaps the most influential role in charting the course’s destiny. George Combe, known as the club’s “Convenor of the Green,” applied his expertise and played a crucial role in crafting golf’s inaugural handicap system. Harry Colt, renowned for his work at Muirfield and Pine Valley, left a transformative legacy upon his arrival in the 1920s, elevating Royal County Down into the iconic masterpiece that captivates golfers today.
The commitment to evolution remained a constant theme at Royal County Down, as seen in more recent enhancements orchestrated by Mackenzie & Ebert. These updates not only preserved the course’s essence but also enhanced its allure, ensuring that Royal County Down Golf Club stands as a timeless and evolving testament to the genius of its visionary architects.
From our count that is nine architects that made Royal County Downs what it is today; more people than will be in the final four twosomes on Sunday afternoon this September.
Over the years, Royal County Down has consistently earned its reputation as one of the premier links courses worldwide. Since as far back as 1893, it has been a favored venue for both esteemed professional and amateur championships. Renowned players such as Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Rory McIlroy, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus have all experienced its exceptional terrain. Furthermore, the course has proudly hosted a series of prestigious events, including:
● Irish Open (Four Times)
● Senior Open Championship (Three Times)
● Walker Cup (2007)
● Curtis Cup (1968)
● Amateur Championship (twice)
● Home Internationals (three times)
● Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship (nine times)
● Irish Open Amateur Championship (fifteen times until 1959)
As Royal County Down hosts its fifth Irish Open in 2024, fans and players alike will once again be able to see its beauty, quirkyness, and challenge on full display.