Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham, Hoylake, Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, and Portmarnock

England’s Open Venues with Ireland
– The Character of this tour

Duration – 7 nights
Logistics – Follows an ‘out-and-back’, ‘point-to-point’ touring structure
Transport – Self-drive works best
Mileage – Medium to High. Involves two Irish Sea ferries
Travel Class – Premier & Affordable
Non-Golf offer – Good (Dublin, Antrim Coast, & Liverpool)

At Faraway Fairways we’ve noticed an increasing number of overseas visitors seeking to utilise the often less-expensive ‘gateway’ of Dublin as their point of arrival. It presents us with the possibility of combining the cream of England’s open venues with Ireland in a beguiling circuit. Our first assignment is the world top-100 rated Portmarnock golf course, which is widely regarded as one the fairest and truest tests of any links golfer on the planet. The following day sees us heading north where we tackle the world top-10 rated masterpiece at Royal County Down before moving onto Belfast. The next day sees us launching a snatch and grab raid against the host of the 2019 Open Championship venue, and world top-20 ranked links of Royal Portrush, before returning to Belfast to begin our pursuit of England’s Open venues

We have the choice of flying, or sailing overnight, either way are target is a trio of Open Championship venues on the Lancashire coast. Royal Lytham has perhaps, statistically speaking at least, eclipsed Carnoustie as the most difficult on the rotation. Lytham with its red bricked and green gabled clubhouse is one of the most recognisable in golf. Royal Birkdale, is widely regarded as England’s premier links golf course, and the host venue that allowed Jordan Spieth to have his name carved onto the claret jug in 2018. The next day we play Hoylake on Merseyside, an old-fashioned links that since it returned to the Open rotation has rewarded Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. This completes the rump of England’s Open venues with Ireland added for extra value.

All that remains left now is to get back to Dublin (although you might of course decide to fly open jaw and head back home from Manchester?). Our scheduled day of arrival back in Ireland will be a Saturday, which does limit our scope. The Portmarnock Links are an excellent course which features in a list of Ireland’s top-20.

For a comparatively short break, this truly is a pageantry of golfing royalty. Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, Royal Lytham, Royal Liverpool and Royal Birkdale are amongst four clubs to have hosted the Open Championship. Six courses, played over seven days hold world top-100 rankings. That’s impressive in any language and probably doesn’t require any further justification. Taken together you’ve got the best of England’s Open venues with Ireland, and can also count the vibrant and atmospheric cities of Dublin and Liverpool as additional reasons to look favourably on this comparatively inexpensive option. You could do a lot worse than build yourself a ‘recovery day’ into the itinerary!



Sunday PORTMARNOCK GC Dublin Dublin
Monday ROYAL COUNTY DOWN Belfast Belfast
Tuesday ROYAL PORTRUSH Antrim Coast Liverpool or night ferry
Wednesday ROYAL LYTHAM Blackpool Liverpool
Thursday ROYAL BIRKDALE Liverpool Liverpool
ROYAL LIVERPOOL/ HOYLAKE Chester Dublin or night ferry

Click Image to learn more details about the course


7 Nights Duration
  • Premier
  • Affordable

TRANSPORT - This tour involves crossing between Ireland and England. There are two ways of doing this (although you could mix them up). A night ferry from Belfast to Liverpool, followed by another night ferry from Liverpool to Dublin. This arrangement permits us to take our vehicle out of Ireland and avoids processing new pick-ups each time we land. An Irish Sea ferry isn't a 'cruise', although we can achieve some degree of comfort by using private two-berth cabins. Spending two nights at sea does reduce the hotel prices slightly. The crossing takes eight hours, but can leave you 'kicking your heels' a little bit on arrival as they get in fairly early. It's why we've scheduled Lytham (the furthest drive) on your Wednesday

Alternatively we could fly between Belfast and Liverpool or Manchester, and back from Liverpool or Manchester to Dublin. Despite us having modelled and indicatively priced the ferry, on balance, Faraway Fairways would probably recommend flying. We haven't included the price of any flights in the cost. You will need to make this arrangement yourselves once we have been able to confirm tee-times. Flying is more expensive and will of course incur two extra nights hotel accommodation that the ferry would otherwise absorb. There is probably less that can go wrong flying however, and it's likely to be less fatiguing too

NON GOLF ACTIVITY - Non-golfers get more time for non-golf activity than golfers. An asterisk (*) is used on the ‘Non-Golf’ button in the itineraries to indicate where a golfer could reasonably expect to be able to undertake an activity. Anything left unmarked is only practical for non-golfers to undertake. Check the button called ‘What’s Included’ that appears on the final named day ‘tab’ to see if it’s included in a price.

DISCLAIMER - The content of all tours are sold subject to availability and final confirmation of price. We do not speculatively book hotels in advance. Late bookings might be subject to a market led price increment. The prices displayed are strong indicators of what you would expect to pay but can also fluctuate in line with choices people wish to add or omit. Please check what's included. Prices are per person based on two sharing


With a rich history closely aligned to the progression of golf in Ireland, Portmarnock has hosted numerous Irish Open Championships, the Walker Cup, the Irish Amateur Championship and the British Amateur Championship. From Sam Snead to Seve Ballesteros, some of golf’s best-known names have tested their skills this majestic narrow tongue of shallow dunes-land, just north of Dublin. Considered by many as one of the fairest links courses in the world it delivers an incredible challenge and true test of golf. In 2016 Portmarnock secured a prestigious world-25 ranking, perhaps five-time Open Championship winner Tom Watson summed up the links best during his visits saying “There are no tricks or nasty surprises, only an honest, albeit searching test of shot making skills.”


Royal County Down is the world’s highest rated golf course according to Golf Digest on their 2016 rankings. It is framed in one of the most stunningly natural links settings. The Murlough Nature Reserve provides the stage, the magnificent Mourne mountains the backdrop. 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.

Royal Portrush

Sited on a particularly beautiful stretch of the North Antrim Causeway Coast, Portrush is constructed on an area of natural dune land with limestone cliffs. The Open was held here in 1951, and won by Max Faulkner. The reasons for its absence since are well documented, but in 2019 it returned, Shane Lowry playing the elements better than anyone else proved a popular local(ish) winner. Two holes dominate. The fifth is an iconic short par 4, that taunts you into over clubbing. Get it wrong and you plunge down the cliff onto the beach below. The sixteenth is arguably even more famous, an intimidating par 3 that involves driving across a valley of no recovery onto a surface in another dune system that falls sharply away on all sides. With out of bounds down both sides, Rory McIlroy’s first hole quadruple has probably entered folklore too. It’s difficult to imagine that the Open has a tougher opening assignment


Royal Lytham could never be described as a “classical” links course. It doesn’t have any giant shaggy dunes, nor does it have undulating roller-coaster fairways or pretty sea views, but with its red roofed, green gabled clubhouse it has character and bags of history. The course itself is extremely tough. An analysis of the most recent Open Championships that Faraway Fairways has undertaken suggests that Lytham is in fact the most difficult of the courses on the rotation. Numerous sandhills, particularly long and snaggly grasses, and an abundance of bunkers (174 of them) do the defending. It’s perhaps not surprising that a renowned escapologist like Seve Ballesteros twice lifted the claret jug here

Image by Wojciech Migda.
CC by SA 3.0, License [CLICK]


Whereas the argument to be called Scotland’s best links is competitive, the English title is less contested. Royal Birkdale is widely acknowledged to wear the crown and renowned for its fairness, immaculate condition, and being a tough assignment to conquer. The fairways are laid out in the flat-bottomed valleys between towering dunes making it particularly hazardous is the wind. Shots breaking from sheltered positions suddenly begin to take on their on sense of independent thought. It’s part of select group of courses to have hosted the Open (10 times) and the Ryder Cup. Birkdale’s roll-call is equally impressive with the names of Palmer, Trevino, and Watson prominent, who can possibly forget the trevails of Jordan Spieth at the 13th in 2017 on his way to victory

Image by Sue Adair, CC by SA 2.0


Hoylake has a long and illustrious history of playing host to the Open, and has now staged twelve, its first in 1897. Since it’s return the names of Woods and McIlroy were added to the claret jug, which perhaps hints to the fact it rewards the worthy. Founded in 1869, Hoylake is the second oldest seaside links course in England. Hoylake is a tough links. Only six holes are in the dunes – otherwise there is little protection from the ever-changing wind. The land is unusually flat, offering little in the way of definition and reference points, in this regard it requires you to envision a shot


This links Bernhard Langer designed links borders its illustrious neighbour, the Portmarnock Golf Club. For such a new layout, the Hotel Links is a very natural and understated course. There is nothing showy about the design; the natural land is used simply and effectively. The first eight holes play across gently-undulating ground with definition provided by varied grasses and pot bunkers. Then, around the turn, a cluster of shaggy sand dunes provides a much more pronounced aspect. Resort courses tend to be regarded by golfer’s with suspicion, but this one quickly established itself in Ireland’s top-20 and should be treated as an exception

Time to say Goodbye

Time, as they say, waits for no man, and sadly we’re no exception. Today it’s time to bid you farewell, hope you enjoyed your stay, and will consider returning soon. Better still, the return match awaits. We’ll ensure you get to your airport for a safe, and comfortable return across the Atlantic, where the benefits of flying east to west will now become apparent, as you land a mere two hours after you took off! Don’t forget to stay in touch through our blog, email, or the social networks, as we update information. Once again, thank you

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