Castleknock Hotel & Country Club is located five miles to the west of Dublin city centre on land that was once part of the Somerton estate. Property developer, Paul Monahan, purchased Somerton House and associated grounds in the early 1980s with a view to living there and developing the site later on.
And so it came to pass that a 140-bed hotel, part of the Tower Hotel Group chain, was constructed in 2003 and a 160-acre, 18-hole parkland golf course – designed by Jonathan Gaunt – was opened two years later at a cost of over €4m.
The course has had ten acres of man-made water features and a state-of-the-art drainage and irrigation system installed. It is hard to believe now that large parts of the course were leased out in the 1990s to potato farmers!
Water features at seven holes at Castleknock, with every par three hole guarded by lakes which, as the club says, have recirculation systems “to ensure that the water is always fresh and inviting to the player but hopefully not to the golf ball.”
Castleknock is set in mature woodland, with the 3rd to 6th holes, in particular, enjoying the dramatic wooded backdrop of the Liffey Valley. Greens have been constructed to USGA specification and are well proportioned – average areas are 700 square metres – with subtle undulations to permit a large variety of pin positions.
With planning permission for a number of luxury houses on the property now granted, developer Paul Monahan is selling shares in the golf course and these are limited to 200 members of the golf club. Shares are not cheap at over €20,000 each but, thankfully, casual visiting golfers do not have to invest such a hefty sum of money to play at Castleknock, paying a fraction of that amount instead for a green fee.
We played this course in October 2018 in fine weather where we found the course overall very enjoyable. The parkland course is well drained as there was little expense spared to create sand based fairways.
Great design variety where the front nine has three par 4’s; three par 5’s and three par 3’s which makes it most unusual but very pleasant. Point to note is the length has been allocated to the par fives hence some have low indices while the par fours can be short the first of which requires an iron off the tee. The holes are excellent with large fair bunkers and the greens are huge whilst receptive and great to putt on. The course has a some puzzling layout where one player played up to the 17th green when on the eight fairway so keep a constant check on the map on the card for the line of play and some hidden water.
The course has an American feel to it where water is in abundance and you play around the hotel but must yield to oncoming ‘car traffic’ on the 10th hole. The course has a lot of deciduous trees which shed loads unlike pine trees (US style) which do not.
This does not take away from the challenge which exists with the variety of tee boxes- four in all. Many memorable holes include the sixth par five dog-leg with water on the left, the 14th index 1 crescent going left to right and the five par threes all over water. The course deserves the ranking of # 16 in Dublin and has some good views across to the Dublin Mountains. Recommend play but could be leafy after the fall. pd