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World's Best Golf Destinations

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© Aidan Bradley

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Royal County Down: Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Many courses offer spectacular views, but few cast as powerful a spell as Royal County Down. It’s set within an otherworldly stretch of dunes along the Irish Sea, offering panoramas of Newcastle and its beach, the Victorian redbrick spire of the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa (rooms, from $165; hastingshotels.com) and the massive Mourne Mountains. Closer in, the course is marked by the delightful color and texture of gorse and other native flora, while fairways unfurl around marram-fringed bunkers. The journey is one of constant surprise: A disorienting blind shot over a dune wall is followed by a moment of startling beauty as the fairway—and all that lies beyond—is revealed. Greens fees start at $120; royalcountydown.org.

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