Castlerock is a fine links course in Coleraine in Northern Ireland. The course is beautiful, with wonderful vistas all around.
Castlerock is a fine links course in Coleraine, County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.
Testimony to its quality is that we played it on the same trip as we played Royal County Down and Royal Portrush and one of our travelling party of golfers rated Castlerock above these stars of world golf.
Not all the holes at Castlerock are links ones, however. You start off with a right-turning dogleg that is true links and a gentle introduction to the course.
You then head towards the railway for some holes which do not scream links at you, in fact barely whisper it. The hole the club seems proudest of, and uses to promote its charms, is not obviously a links one at all.
This is the par-3 4th, a scenic hole, played over a stream with stone bridges, the green defended by four bunkers. The stream is near enough the tee that it is not a strategic challenge, nor should the railway line which passes along the hole be either. (The railway line becomes more intimidating on the next hole, as it runs snugly along the length of the par-5 5th.)
But, for me, the best holes at Castlerock re the finishing stretch from 16. The course is beautiful, with wonderful vistas all around. But you do have look around, as rarely does the course direct you to the best views.
This changes on 16, the shortest par 3, at 157 yards, and where the green hangs above the whole site. The views are magnificent. The hole is appropriately called Summit.
The 493-yard 17th is played towards sea and town with a striking backdrop, and the 18th a right-turning dogleg which climbs steeply towards the green is a superb closing hole.
We played the 18-hole Mussenden course at Castlerock. There is also a nine holer, the 2,446-yard Bann course, which is played more in and around the dunes than the Mussenden is. We caught glimpses of this playing round – the holes looked attractive – and wished we had time to play it, too.
Everyone at the club made us feel very welcome.