Castlerock has two courses the 18 hole Mussenden and the nine-hole Bann both classified as true links golf courses.
There is general agreement that the Bann has the best linksland with high dramatic dunes. On the other hand, whereas the Mussenden has some exciting linksland it has other areas that are not so interesting.
Reading golfers reviews after they played at Castlerock there is a significant number of them who believe that the club should integrate the Bann course into the Mussenden and create one outstanding Championship course.
This has actually been accomplished in some respects by Carne Golf Club. Their Championship course was designed by Eddie Hackett and named after him.
Later a nine-hole course the Kilmore was opened, it had exceptionally high dunes. More recently they have marketed the two courses as 21 holes.
Golfers can book any two of the three nines. The back nine of the original Hackett and the original Kilmore are now offered as the "Wild Atlantic Dunes Course”.
This is considered to be probably the biggest dunes course in the world.
(6805 yards, par 73)
Castlerock is a seaside village in County Londonderry five miles west of Coleraine, it is close to Portstewart and Royal Portrush Golf Clubs and is on the Causeway Coast.
The club was formed in 1901 with 9 holes. After leasing further land it was extended to 18 holes by Ben Sayers the well-known Scottish Clubmaker.
It formally opened for play in 1909.
In 1925 Harry Colt made modifications to the course and whilst working at Royal Portrush was consulted about the course in 1930. More recently 10 holes have been renovated, overseen by Dr Martin Hawtree in the winters of 2017 and 2019.
The Mussenden course is named after a Temple perched on a cliff edge where the River Bann meets the Atlantic, The whole course is between the railway, the sea and the river.
There are views to the north of Scotland and to the west are the hills of Donegal. The course can be tough, especially as it is often exposed to severe wind off the Atlantic.
Your short game will be tested as the greens are very quick. The key as in many links is to keep your ball in play.
Comprising a mixture of inland and links holes, a round at Castlerock will test every department of your game.
200 yards, par 3
It is called the ‘Leg O'Mutton’ and is known as the signature hole at Castlerock.
It requires a tee shot struck over a river with a railway track tight to the right.
There is a burn crossing diagonally right to left before the raised green surrounded by four pot bunkers.
493 yards, par 3
This is a very visual hole played from an elevated tee down to a fairway with a central bunker at about 250 yards.
There are two further deep pits about 80 to 100 yards further on.
They must be played over if you are down the right side. However, with a favourable wind, the green can be reachable in two.
337 yards, par 4
This short par four is a great closing hole. From an elevated tee, there is a slight left to right dogleg.
Even a good drive can be moved offline by the contours of the fairway.
You can then be left with a relatively blind approach.
It is slightly uphill to a plateau green in front of the clubhouse.
Big hitters may try to reach the green with their tee shot with a following wind.
(4892 yards, par 68)
The Castlerock Golf Club has a nine-hole relief course that is a great warm up for the main course.
It was designed by Frank Pennink but created in the late 1880’s by the late Billy Kane who followed Pennink’s design. The irony is that this short course has the best linksland at the club routed through wild towering dunes and is far more dramatic than the main course.
It is a golfing adventure where fairways and greens are elusive targets. It threads through beautiful dunes just off the Atlantic shore and near the inlet of the River Bann.
The whole course is a great deal of fun.
There are a number of blind shots, its rollicking fairways are quite narrow and the small greens are tucked behind dunes or in dells.
As the course lacks length it keeps the players attention with sweeping doglegs and blind uphill tee shots. There are five par fours, three par threes and one par five.
92 yards par 3
Known a ‘Kelly’s Eye’.
It has a scary narrow entrance to a narrow bone-shaped green.
The only bunker on the course is on the left and not really in play but the right side is a steep drop.
473 yards, par 5
It is played downhill all the way on a tight fairway to a green flanked by sand dunes on three sides with the river all along the right fairway.
It is noted as a most scenic hole.
318 yards, par 4
The tee shot needs to go about 200 yards to the top of a hill leaving a short iron to a small green surrounded by dunes with a pond short left.
The Irish PGA Championship was first played in 1907. It is open to any PGA Member, Affiliated Members and Assistants resident in Ireland who are attached to a golf facility or any Irish-born PGA Professional, either by qualifying or exemption. The tournament is a 54-hole stroke-play event with 18 holes each day.
Christy O'Connor and Harry Bradshaw top the honours board having each claimed the title 10 times.
Castlerock has hosted this Championship 4 times. There was a long period when it was not played in Northern Ireland because of the troubles. The times Castlerock hosted the tournament were:
On the Causeway coast, there is a single-track railway that links to Derry.
It runs nestled between craggy cliff-faces and golden sands. This line is the only track to run along the iconic Causeway Coast.
It is a very scenic and popular trip.
Tunnels carved into headlands make it possible for the tracks to be a stone’s throw from the ocean. It is 28 miles from Castlerock to Derry and takes about 31 minutes.
The Derry Walls are the largest ancient monument cared for by the state of Northern Ireland. They have the longest complete circuit of ramparts of the 30 walled towns in Ireland.
One way to see the Derry Walls is to walk around the exterior of the monument, exiting the City through New Gate, passing by Bishop’s Gate and re-entering the Walled City through Butcher Gate.
This route follows the line of the original dry moat. A walk around the top of the ramparts allows you to see how the city has developed out beyond the Walls.
The Derry Walls are approximately a mile in circumference and take in both the highest and lowest points on the former Island of Derry.
Mussenden Temple is located in the lovely setting of Downhill Estate near Castlerock in County Derry. It sits on a 120 ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean, a dramatic site.
There are splendid views westwards over the sea and of the surrounding countryside. There are stunning cliff top walks around this diverse historical site.
Unfortunately, the interior is not accessible, but you can enjoy the grandeur of this iconic building from the outside.
The temple was built in 1785 and forms part of the estate of Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol.
it was built as a summer library. Its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. Over the years the Temple has been in danger of being lost to the sea due to the erosion of the cliff.
In 1997 the National Trust carried out cliff stabilisation work to prevent the loss of this lovely building.
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