Erroneously listing itself as a “Hidden Gem”, it would be an oversight to leave Castlerock Golf Club off a Northern Ireland golf trip. While not as well known in Northern Ireland golf as Royal County Down, Royal Portrush or even Portstewart, Castlerock’s Mussenden Course is a challenging layout that never plays the same twice. It has also played host to many important amateur and professional events. The course takes its name from the circular Temple Mussenden located on a nearby cliff.
To illustrate just how the prevailing winds impact scores, in the 2001 Ireland PGA International it saw Paul McGinley shoot an opening record-setting round 64 on a calm day, the next day with the wind up Des Smyth was the only participant to break par!
Castlerock was founded in 1901, as a nine-hole routing along the Causeway Coast, as was the custom of the day. In 1906 the club voted to expand to 18 holes and in 1909 the new layout by Ben Sayers, a famous clubmaker of the day from North Berwick, Scotland opened the new links.
With a quality international reputation, the Club is today twinned with Niagara Golf Club in Canada, North America’s oldest club founded in 1875.
While not confirmed, it is club folklore that Harry Colt when doing extensive work at nearby Royal Portrush in 1930 was consulted at Castlerock and made some expert tweak suggestions.
Unless a dead calm day, there are no easy holes and even then, the lightning-fast greens challenge scoring opportunities.
The signature 4th hole is descriptively named, “Leg O’Mutton”. A 200-yard, par 3 featuring an elevated green, with the railway running the entire length of the hole on the right. A watery grave awaiting anyone whose shot strays into the menacing burn that cuts diagonally right to left before the green.
One should make time to also play the excellent second course at Castlerock Golf Club, the 9-hole Bann Course, named after the River Bann, that empties into the Atlantic at Castlerock. The course is known for its scenic beauty and on a clear day one can see the Isle of Islay in Scotland. The par 5, 5th hole is considered one of the most scenic holes in all of Irish golf.
Northern Ireland is a golfing utopia. With breathtaking views, rolling countryside, and around 100 courses across the small country, it is often considered the go-to destination for a luxury golf vacation.
6 nights accommodation and 6 rounds of golf
Prices starting from $4,750