An underrated links with a surprise: The Castlerock Golf Club in Northern Ireland



The views on the Bann course at Castlerock Golf Club are better than the main course. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The 375-yard second hole at Castlerock Golf Club requires a big drive uphill to reveal the green around the dogleg right. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The par-3 fourth hole at Castlerock Golf Club sits between the railway line and a burn. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The par-3 ninth hole at the Castlerock Golf Club is nicknamed Quarry. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The 17th hole is the best par 5 at the Castlerock Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The clubhouse behind the elevated 18th green at the Castlerock Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
A burn crosses in front of the sixth green at the Castlerock Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The 11th hole is the easiest par 5 at the Castlerock Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The wee par 3 on the third hole of the Bann course at the Castlerock Golf Club plays merely 92 yards. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The fourth green of the Bann course at the Castlerock Golf Club sits in a bowl of dunes. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The fifth hole of the Bann course at the Castlerock Golf Club plays along the inlet to the sea. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
A surprise pond lurks near the sixth green of the Bann course at the Castlerock Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
Don't miss left on the eighth hole of the Bann course at the Castlerock Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
Part of the par-3 ninth green of the Bann course at the Castlerock Golf Club hides behind a dune. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )

CASTLEROCK, Northern Ireland – The Castlerock Golf Club holds one of Northern Ireland’s best-kept golf secrets. The original course, Mussenden Links, dating to 1901 on the scenic Causeway Coast, is pretty good – easily one of the top five links in the country. The truth is the club’s most thrilling golf holes are found on a short (but sweet) relief nine, the Bann course.

The Bann is a whimsical walking adventure through beautiful dunes. While the Mussenden Links mostly steers toward flatter ground and the occasional ridges that create a few blind shots, the Bann charges full bore into the highest sand hills near seaside inlet of the River Bann, the country’s longest river. Since the par 34 lacks length at 2,446 yards long, the Bann keeps players engaged with sweeping doglegs and blind, uphill tee shots. The three par 3s provide a variety of downhill looks and club selections, from a 92-yard baby wedge at no. 3 to a 141-yard five or six iron into a stiff breeze to the semi-blind ninth green tucked beyond a dune. Miss right on the par-5 fifth hole and you might end up on the beach along the river.

Back on the main course, you certainly won’t get bored. The par 3s on the front side are stout – the 200-yard fourth pinched between a burn and the railway line and the 214-yard ‘Quarry’ hole near a rocky outcropping at no. 9. The demanding finishing run will determine who wins the day. Just make sure you have enough daylight, and energy, left for an emergency nine on the Bann.

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May 12, 2017

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.


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