Guide to Castlerock Golf Club
Castlerock Golf Club is one of North Ireland’s best-kept secrets. The original course, named Mussenden Links, dates back to 1901 and is located on the Causeway Coastal Route, around 13 miles from Portrush.
This stunning course is easily one of the top five links courses in the whole of the island. The club also has even more exciting holes located on the adjacent 9 holes Bann course.
The history of the club can be traced back to May 4, 1900, when a public meeting took place at the Pavilion in Castlerock to consider the viability of creating golf links at the resort. The inaugural meeting for this future club took place on a Tuesday afternoon on April 16, 1901. The meeting, chaired by Reverend William Irwin, D.D., appointed a council for the season.
During the meeting, it was agreed that thanks of members be tendered to Colonel Bruce and Sir H. Hervey for their generosity in placing such a large tract of land at the club’s disposal for the purpose of a golf club. By then, a large clubhouse had already been erected on the ground, and the links were carefully laid out.
The formal inauguration ceremony for the links on Castlerock was held on Saturday, June 22, 1901. There was an open competition, where winners were awarded prizes of £3, £2, and £1. It generated a lot of interest and the attendance by the public was tremendous. Besides that, many golfers attended. The winner of the inaugural competition was J. Hunter Steen – Cheltenham G.C. Gross 84, H.5, Nett 79.
In 1906, the A.G.M. authorised the council to begin negotiations for leasing of more land to create an extra nine holes, making it an eighteen-hole course. On the meeting of May 1909, it was reported that the council had begun negotiations with tenants next to the 9-hole course and had managed to arrange for sufficient ground to make the extension.
Sir Hervey and Lady Bruce oversaw the formal opening ceremony for the new 18-hole course. The ceremony took place on July 15, 1909. Mr David Craig, the club’s captain, offered his thanks to sir Hervey for his generosity and constant interest in the Club. The opening competition was held with a medal for the 18 holes course, with 30 players taking part. However, only four cards were turned.
In 1912, the Irish Professional Championship was played at the club from May 9 to May 10 of that year. After the first day, Pat Doyle was ahead on 152 having set the course with 72 during the afternoon round. Michael Moran was just behind with 155. Moran managed to score 75 during round three compared to Doyle’s 82, and he thus took a 4-stroke lead. Another 75 by Moran meant that he maintained a 6-shot lead over Doyle who managed a 77 at the end of the competition. The third position went to Harry Hamill, who was a shot behind.
Today, the club hosts various competitions for men and women at all skill level. To find events, you can visit the club’s site, where dates for each competition are listed.
The Bann Course
The Bann is a great walking adventure that takes you through beautiful dunes, located near some of the highest sand hills on the western shore of the River Bann, the longest river in Northern Ireland. Despite the lack of length at 2,446 yards (par 34), the Bann will keep you engaged with its sweeping doglegs and many blind, uphill tee shots. The par threes give you a wide array of downhill lies as well as club selections, from the 92-yard third hole to a 141 yard into an oncoming sea breeze. There is also a semi-blind ninth green, which is located just beyond a dune. If you miss right on the par-5 fifth, you could end up on the beach along the River Bann.
- Barmouth Par 4 Stroke Index 9/10 Length 301 yards
- Everest Par 4 Stroke Index 1/2 Length 367 yards
- Kellys Eye Par 3 Stroke Index 17/18 Length 92 yards
- Kanes Hollow Par 3 Stroke Index 15/16 Length 153 yards
- Bannview Par 5 Stroke Index 13/14 Length 491 yards
- The Pond Par 4 Stroke Index 8/9 Length 337 yards
- The Chasm Par 4 Stroke Index 5/6 Length 288 yards
- Doghill Par 4 Stroke Index 3/4 Length 276 yards
- Atlantic Par 3 Stroke Index 11/12 Length 141 yards
The Mussenden Course
The Mussenden course is a 6506 yard Par 73, with a mixture of par-5s and par-3s. Its best hole is the fourth, called the Leg O’Mutton. It is a 200-yard par-3 with a railway line to its right and a burn to its left and raised green.
There is also the 214-yard “Quarry” hole that is located close to a rocky outcropping at the 9th. The tough finishing at the end determines who carries the day.
In 2017, the course was renovated with the bunkers receiving an upgrade from Martin Hawtree, the renowned architect and the SOL construction company, having previously worked on Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen.
During the work, it became apparent that merely replacing the sand hazards would not suffice. Thus, the plan evolved into an 8-hole project, which extended to the fairways, bunkers, and greens. As work progressed, apparent problems such as drainage issues with the 11th, 13th, and 15th, meant that more work had to be done than initially envisioned.
Diverting efforts and resources from the two holes intended for the original project ensured upgrades were done to the other six while remaining within budget. There are still plans to upgrade the 3rd and 16th, but those plans are still on hold. The course is now shorter by 25 yards since the 2nd hole had to be moved forward. The 2nd hole had the green moved forward and the buckthorn removed from the right side, with four new bunkers, and screening mounds are now in place.
Drainage issues with hole 11 meant that the green had to be raised by about a meter. A vast section to the left of the fairways is now used as the sand mine to build up a raised pulling surface.
The green for the 13th hole has been pushed back by fifteen yards because of a large volume of clay below the pulling surface. Due to the new position of the green, it now brings a small stream close to the hole into play. There is now more run off to the right of the putting area.
- Knocklayde Par 4 Stroke Index 9 Length 367 yards
- Sconce Par 4 Stroke Index 5 Length 375 yards
- The Whins Par 5 Stroke Index 13 Length 523 yards
- Leg O’Mutton Par 3 Stroke Index 11 Length 200 yards
- Railway Par 5 Stroke Index 15 Length 477 yards
- Railway Par 4 Stroke Index 7 Length 347 yards
- Armchair Par 4 Stroke Index 1 Length 418 yards
- Bulldozer Par 4 Stroke Index 3 Length 411 yards
- Quarry Par 3 Stroke Index 17 Length 214 yards
- Fairy Dell Par 4 Stroke Index 4 Length 415 yards
- Coastguards Par 5 Stroke Index 16 Length 529 yards
- Spion Kop Par 4 Stroke Index 2 Length 430 yards
- Swallow Hill Par 4 Stroke Index 14 Length 382 yards
- Corner Par 3 Stroke Index 8 Length 192 yards
- Homewards Par 5 Stroke Index 6 Length 518 yards
- The Summit Par 3 Stroke Index 18 Length 157 yards
- Inishowen Par 5 Stroke Index 12 Length 493 yards
- Mussenden Par 4 Stroke Index 10 Length 357 yards
For those who wish to improve their game, the Castlerock has an impressive training area. There are facilities for general practice tees as well as areas for the short game. An area that is used little was ground-shaped to give it gentle mounds and slopes, which compliment the sand dunes in its background.
There is a two-tier green in this area that has two bunkers constructed to extreme precision, which includes a watering system. To help alleviate extensive wear caused by extensive use, there are artificial grass tees in strategic areas. Around the green, chipping mats have been installed. The club takes pride in being able to provide this training area to members who wish to become better players.
Castlerock Green Fees
Mussenden Green Fees – 7 days – £100
Bann links Green Fees – 7 days – £20
Caddy rate – £40 per round (plus gratuities)
Golf Carts – £30 per cart
Powa Kaddy – £10 per round
Pull Trolley – £4 per round
Club Rental – £30 per round
65 Circular Road
Phone: 028 7084 8314
Shop: 028 7084 9424
Bar: 028 7084 8314
Restaurant: 028 7084 8314