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Playing Ardball

Despite a superb seaside location twenty miles north of Royal County Down, with water views from every tee and green, Northern Ireland's Ardglass Golf Club has never quite attained must-play status for tourists in its 107-year history. With the recent unveiling of three new waterfront holes, the delightful but famously cramped layout should finally shed its reputation of being a few carats short of a gem.

Designed by local hero and ex-European Tour pro David Jones, the new windswept loop skirts the shoreline of the Irish Sea. It comprises a 205-yard par three sandwiched between par fives of 527 and 488 yards, helping to add about 170 yards to the now 6,236-yard par seventy. Opened to members this past fall, the new holes will play as nine through eleven when they become a permanent part of the rotation in April. Among the existing holes to be removed are the sixth (requiring a memorably quirky blind approach over a stone wall) and the seventh, neighboring par fives in an area where four holes converged to create a head-spinning shooting gallery. "Congestion is a thing of the past," declares club manager Debbie Polly.

Future plans include adding greater fairway definition and new tees. The desired refurbishment of the club's exotic but threadbare home won't be so painless: The fourteenth-century castle, believed to be the world's oldest clubhouse, is a historic monument and thus subject to more strictures than a redesign at Augusta.
—Eamon Lynch

Greens Fees: $44-$63. Tee Times: 011-44-28-44841219 or visit ardglass.force9.co.uk.

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