Take on three great park­land course in the city’s new golf tour­na­ment

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL -

North­ern Ire­land is renowned for its chal­leng­ing links cour­ses, with golfers trav­el­ling from around the globe to play on the cham­pi­onship coast­line greens con­sis­tently named among the best in the world. But the story of golf on the island of Ire­land all be­gan with a park­land course in Belfast.

In the sum­mer of 1881, Thomas Sin­clair and Ge­orge L Bail­lie ap­proached Cap­tain John Har­ri­son, the Laird of Holy­wood, who gen­er­ously gave per­mis­sion for a golf course to be laid out, free of rent, on his land at Kin­negar, Holy­wood.

These fron­tiers­men of golf wasted no time and the first 18-hole com­pe­ti­tion took place over the new six-hole course on Box­ing Day 1881.

To­day that course is the pres­ti­gious Royal Belfast Golf Club, a course of great charm that pro­vides a true test of golf­ing skill and en­joys un­ri­valled views of Belfast Lough and the Antrim plateau be­yond.

It is one of three re­spected golf clubs to make up the in­au­gu­ral Belfast In­ter­na­tional Park­land Tour­na­ment, run­ning from July 3 un­til July 5, in what is sure to be a mo­men­tous week for golf in North­ern Ire­land.

The com­pe­ti­tion will of­fer golfers the op­por­tu­nity to play three park­land cour­ses, ROLLING HILLS: in­clud­ing Royal Belfast, Malone Golf Club, and Shan­don Park Golf Club, with the op­por­tu­nity for en­trants to also gain re­duced fees at Holy­wood and Belvoir Park golf clubs.

The course at Malone gen­tly rolls through 330 acres of im­mac­u­lately main­tained park­land along the River La­gan, with the many ma­ture trees await­ing a wayward tee shot.

Shan­don Park de­liv­ers an en­joy­able chal­lenge for all. The par four sixth hole is a 455-yard gi­ant, de­mand­ing ac­cu­racy from the tee and a down­hill sec­ond shot of equal pre­ci­sion into a well-pro­tected green.

Both men and women can en­ter the tour­na­ment, with prices start­ing at £99 per per­son. The first 50 peo­ple to en­ter re­ceive a free in­di­vid­ual green fee at one of the par­tic­i­pat­ing cour­ses.

With the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open com­ing to Port­stew­art this July and The Open Cham­pi­onship to Royal Portrush in 2019, North­ern Ire­land is now a must-see des­ti­na­tion for golfers.

But the Belfast In­ter­na­tional Park­land Tour­na­ment is ar­guably our best-kept se­cret, so get in first and cel­e­brate three days of golf in Belfast.

Turn your golf­ing trip into a short break by stay­ing at one of the classy four and fives­tar ho­tels nearby on the out­skirts of Belfast.

The Crowne Plaza ho­tel sits in the pic­turesque sur­round­ings of La­gan Val­ley Re­gional Park, just 10 min­utes’ drive from Belfast’s thriv­ing city cen­tre. It has stylish din­ing, com­pli­men­tary Wi-Fi and a 20-me­tre in­door pool.

The Park Av­enue Ho­tel is in a great lo­ca­tion for ex­plor­ing Belfast’s Ti­tanic Quar­ter, and it’s home to a Marco Pierre White Steak­house Bar and Grill.

Or if you want five-star lux­ury, then up­grade to the mag­nif­i­cent Cul­lo­den Es­tate and Spa, which stands on the wooded slopes of the Holy­wood hills and over­looks beau­ti­ful Belfast Lough. Es­tab­lished in 1828, Botanic Gar­dens has been en­joyed as a park by the peo­ple of Belfast since 1895. Fea­tur­ing a rose garden and long her­ba­ceous bor­ders, the Palm House was de­signed by Charles Lanyon and is one of the ear­li­est ex­am­ples of a curvi­lin­ear cast iron glasshouse. Ex­plore thatched cot­tages, farms and schools as you ex­pe­ri­ence life from over 100 years ago. Chat to cos­tumed guides as they demon­strate tra­di­tional crafts, and meet farm an­i­mals in the beau­ti­ful park­land of the Folk Mu­seum. Then step aboard steam lo­co­mo­tives and ex­plore horse-drawn car­riages, elec­tric trams, boats, mo­tor­bikes, fire en­gines and vin­tage cars in the Trans­port Mu­seum.

Royal Belfast’s 18th hole

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