Royal County Down is located in one of the world’s most naturally beautiful links settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve. Against the magnificent backdrop of the Mountains of Mourne, the links stretches along the shores of Dundrum Bay, zigzagging back and forth to provide a different vista from virtually every hole. The narrowest ribbons of fairways thread their way through as impressive a set of sand dunes as could be imagined. The fairways are surrounded by purple heather and golden gorse, so beautiful to look at but so punishing for any who may stray from the prescribed path. The ‘bearded’ bunkers are world famous and feature overhanging lips of marram, red fescue and heather. The greens are fast and many are domed, rejecting any shot lacking conviction. This is a true test of any player’s command of the traditional bump and run, the preferred way to play any links. The ninth hole is one of the most photographed holes in world golf. A 486 yard par 4, it is played from one side of a huge mound down to a fairway some 60 ft below and 260 yards from the tee. From the bottom of the slope the second shot is played over two bunkers to a raised green. The finest of all links courses, it offers a stern challenge from the championship tees. The record is 66 set by Ireland’s first golfing superstar, Jimmy Bruen, in 1939. From the stableford tees it offers golfers of all standards the opportunity of playing a truly great course with dramatic panorama of the surrounding mountains and coastline.