Royal Belfast Golf Club is one of only a handful in Ireland to have ‘Royal’ prefix their name – the others are Royal Portrush, Royal County Down, Royal Dublin, Royal Curragh and Royal Tara. Royal Belfast Golf Club was formed in 1881 and was one of nine Ulster clubs who founded the Golf Union of Ireland in 1891.
Members first played on an 18-hole course at Kinnegar, Holywood in 1882 but within 10 years the course became so busy, and the land was being used as a rifle range, that they moved to Carnalea near Bangor, this time playing on a 9-hole course. In 1925, the club finally relocated to its present 140-acre site on the south shore of Belfast Lough at Craigavad, Holywood where the views across the water to the Antrim hills are magnificent.
Heritage and tradition are bywords at Royal Belfast Golf Club. The magnificent former manor house that is their clubhouse has golfing memorabilia tucked in corners everywhere – from an Old Tom Morris driver to an original scarlet golfing coat worn by a founding member, and the club is extremely proud of their position as the oldest club in Ireland.
The Royal Belfast course was designed by Harry Colt, one of the leading golf course architects of his day. Assisted by W.A. Murray, Colt routed the holes over rolling parkland but kept it within view of the vast expanse of water just off its’ shores. Stands of trees, lush fairways, gentle elevation changes and intelligent bunkering all combine to make the course an absolute charm to play. Holes 9 to 11 are directly on the shoreline and are particular favorites of the members.