Every June, there is a major amateur golf competition held on the Antrim coast which attracts over one thousand golfers from all parts of Ireland, the United Kingdom and beyond. Formerly known as the “Black Bush” tournament – after a whiskey product of Bushmills, the sponsor – it is now called the Causeway Coast Tournament.
Competitors play a stableford format on four out of five days over the Mussenden at Castlerock, the Strand at Portstewart, the Valley at Portrush and here at Ballycastle. The club is justifiably proud of their involvement in such a prestigious Ulster golfing event where golfers return year after year for a week of great golf played over four top-notch neighbouring courses.
Ballycastle Golf Club was one of nine founding members of the Golf Union of Ireland back in 1891 – the year after they themselves were formed – and members originally played on a 9-hole course that was redesigned in 1906 then extended to 18 holes twenty years after that.
Measuring 5,876 yards, it is regarded by some as a quirky little course with many changes in elevation. Quirky it may be – but uninteresting? Never! The first five holes are played on parkland beside the Margy River and ruins of the Bonamargy Abbey, with the remaining holes laid out along the coast – holes 11 to 17 run up one side of a cliff, along the top, then back down the other side.
Views across to Rathlin Island – and the Mull of Kintyre on a good day – are simply sensational and are an important factor in the golfing experience to be had at Ballycastle. The vista from the tee of the 17th (a 180-yard par three known as “The Pitch”) is also fantastic, with the green lying over 100 feet below. It's just one of many memorable holes at Ballycastle.