Castlerock (Mussenden) - Londonderry - Northern Ireland

Castlerock Golf Club,
65 Circular Road,
Castlerock,
Co Londonderry,
BT51 4TJ,
Northern Ireland


  • +44 (0) 28 7084 8314

Castlerock is a seaside village, located on the Causeway Coast. The Mussenden course (named after the nearby temple which is perched dramatically on the cliff edge) lies at the mouth of the River Bann where it meets the mighty Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day, the Isle of Islay is visible to the north, and to the west, the rolling hills of Donegal.

The club was founded in 1901, originally as a nine-hole layout, and was extended to 18 holes in 1908 by the famous Scottish club maker, Ben Sayers. In 1925, Harry Colt made further modifications to the course.

Living in the shadow of its famous neighbours, Portstewart and Royal Portrush, Castlerock Golf Club is every bit as good, and should not disappoint. This is one of the toughest links courses around, with some exceptional holes. Play close to your handicap and you are doing very well.

The wind is huge factor and when it blows, hold on to your hat. This will no doubt affect scoring. So much so, that in 2001, during the Ireland PGA International, Paul McGinley registered the course record of 64 on a calm day. The previous day, when the wind was up, the eventual winner Des Smyth, was the only player to score better than par. As with most links courses, you must keep your ball in play. Your short game must be of the highest standard because these greens are very quick, even during the winter. Maintaining concentration is important all the way round, because there are no easy holes at Castlerock.

The 4th, a 200-yard par three, is the club's best-known hole, called “Leg O’ Mutton”. The tee-shot is played to a raised green, with the railway line running the full length of the hole on the right and a meandering burn running diagonally from right to left. Do not try to bump and run your approach shot to the short par four 6th – the hidden burn runs across the front of the green. The 15th is a great par five, called “Homewards”. A blind tee shot needs to be struck slightly right of centre, providing a great chance to score well. The 18th is a lovely finishing hole – a tough dogleg to the right and the highest, double-tiered, green on the course.

James W Finegan on the course: “The entire course lies neatly between the railway and the river and the sea… Many holes meander through inviting duneland, but equally many occupy less attractive ground, among them the famous and very much inland 4th… This highly penal if rather ordinary-looking hole demands a straight, solid strike.” From Where Golf is Great – the finest courses of Scotland and Ireland.

We recommend a visit to Castlerock as part of a triple deal (with Portstewart and Royal Portrush). In 2003, the actor Michael Douglas visited Castlerock and he loved the course – a fatal attraction, you might say!

Castlerock also has a 9-hole course called the Bann. The layout is similar to the main Mussenden course, and the par five 5th is considered to be “one of the most scenic holes in Irish golf” – we can’t disagree. The club is is 'twinned' with Niagara Golf Club, considered to be North America's oldest existing golf course (1875).

In 2017 Martin Hawtree was commissioned to renovate the Mussenden course. Phase one of the project commenced in October of that year with updates to bunkers and greens (under the stewardship of SOL Construction) across six holes. Phase one was completed in April 2018 then phase 2 was carried out over the winter of 2019/2020, installing new bunkers, run off areas and mounding around several greens, along with the addition of new tees on another three holes.

Castlerock upgrades the Mussenden course

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Reviews for Castlerock (Mussenden)

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Description: Living in the shadow of its famous neighbours, Portstewart and Royal Portrush, Castlerock Golf Club is every bit as good, and the Mussenden will not disappoint. Rating: 7.2 out of 10 Reviews: 38
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Clayto Jones
This is a "I shall not bother again" course for me. I played on a windy day - hardly surprising! For me, it has too many very silly holes. The famed "Leg of Mutton" is a prize example. OB on two sides, wind hammering from the left, my group has three wipes/lost balls and one par (resulting from my one in a 100 tee-shot). A later par three required a 180-190 metre carry. My partner used driver, one bounce before tyhe green and on line; lost ball up the bank at the back. My 3 metal landed 15m short but straight; I was very lucky to find to find it. Why do people rate such puniishment so highly? Play the gems at Ballyliffin and Ballycastle instead! Have a second round at either Portrush course; play Portstewart. Don't waste your time here.
November 28, 2010
2 / 10
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Joey Chase
Played Castlerock last week along with some of the others in the region. I must say the course condition was great, the welcome was great, the views were even great! The course, however, was a bit of a let down. Truly didn't get several of the first holes. I know that they were a means of working towards more interesting terrain, but still not my cup of tea. The back nine was alot more fun though, working into the dunes very nicely. It is tough to give the course bad rating as my views were slightly skewed having played such great golf the previous days. Might need another crack at it and add on the 9 holer next time. Joey
October 10, 2010
6 / 10
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Brian H Findlater
Was very impressed by this course whcih I knew very little about before hand. High dunes with some very difficult and picturesque holes. Enjoyed it more than Portstewart. The members were very hospitable, the club house comfortable. We felt welcome at a golf members course where golf and friendship came first, not money. A treat!
June 04, 2010
8 / 10
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Adrian Gaspar
Played as part of a NI golf tour, and was very impressed. Meets all your expectations for a highly rated links course and simply driving in to the car park I knew straight away I was going to love the place - it just had an old and traditional feel for me. Everyone was really friendly and the course itself is beautiful. I do however agree that some tweaking here and there to a couple of the early holes would turn this course from one of the best in NI to one of the best in the UK. I rated Castlerock a fraction behind Portstewart but would recommend to anyone.
September 17, 2007
8 / 10
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Ted
A course in immaculate condition, with some very punishing rough - the starter warned us to be careful of our wrists!The first 5 holes weren't my favourite part of the course, although they were extremely tough - I agree with Jim McCann's comments about the internal out of bounds at the par 3 leg o' mutton, it isn't necessary as the hole would still be one of hardest par 3's you will play without it.After the 5th the course turns into links territory and from there gets better and better as you go on - the view from the 17th tee is breathtaking across the Atlantic.All in all a very good links, and the welcome from start to finish from the attentive staff is second to none.
June 26, 2007
8 / 10
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Martin McClure
December 24, 2009
My comments are slightly biased as I won an open stableford competition the first time I played this beautiful course which is a real gem. The par 4 first completely confuses those taking their driver as it brings into play the rough over the huge mound if you leak it right. The par 3 4th hole is really difficult but brilliantly set up. The course is challenging but fair and has real charachter which is matched by the welcome received in the club house. This course deserves to be ranked much higher.
JOHN G. HOLBROOK
I played this course in late September of 2006. It was the most wind I have ever played golf in theweather forecaster said it was gale force winds.It was between 30 & 40 miles per hour, The layout however was excellent wished I could haveplayed on a more enjoyable day. I would liketo play here again
December 04, 2006
8 / 10
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Shaun
Lovely course in great condition, agree with the last review that the par should be reduced to 71. Strongly recommend you go and play Castlerock and also enjoy the fabulous welcome you will receive from both staff and members.
October 09, 2006
6 / 10
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Niall Baker
This is a really enjoyable place to play golf. The course is not too tough but is still challenging and not a pushover.The wind will dictate which holes you will score well upon but scoring chances are there if you play well. It is a par 73 and realistically it could be a par 71 with both the par 5s being reduced to 4. This would not detract from the course. The greens were in incredible condition for October. they were much better than many courses during the summer. As is often the case in Ireland the welcome in the clubhouse was second to none and this is a club ofwhich I would be delighted to be a member of if I lived in the north of Ireland. Go play it .
October 07, 2006
8 / 10
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Jim McCann

A review of Castlerock should mention the clubhouse and the staffing of the golf course as well as the actual lie of the land on which the course is built.I have rarely been at a club with such a vibe - you feel that staff are really trying hard to provide a service to the members and guests. And out on the course itself , there seemed like a small army of green keeping staff tending to the tees, fairways and putting surfaces. The Mussenden Links is a great links track and deserves to be in the top 100 on the website alongside Portstewart (Strand) which is only several long drives away across the river Bann - and the club seem very proud of their ranking too because a copy of these website pages have been pinned to the noticeboard in the gents locker room!

The greens were fast and true when I visited in late April, 2006 and the member I played with told me they had been that good throughout the winter. Tee boxes were immaculate and greenkeepers were repairing divots on several holes as we played.Some bunkers needed raking but that was the only small criticism I could raise with the condition of the course. I didn’t like the OOB to the left of the burn on the par 3 ‘Leg O’ Mutton’ fourth hole (onto the fairway of the 14th hole) - the only time I’ve seen something like that before was on the Machrie in Islay – but I did like the idea of the large halfway house after the 9th hole which obviously gets well used in the summer season.

The bunkerless short 9-hole Bann course is well worth playing too; just don’t think a short course like it will be a pushover as there are blind shots galore and some of the small punchbowl greens are very hard to find, especially if the wind gets up like it did for me. It is certainly a pity that some of those holes in amongst the dunes could not be incorporated into the big course but maybe it’s also good to have an alternative track for members to play when there’s many guests competing on the Mussenden in a week long competition like the ‘Black Bush’ in June every year.

Castlerock should not be overlooked when playing links golf along the north coast of the Ulster province.

Jim McCann

April 24, 2006
6 / 10
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simon smith
Played this course the first week of Sept and really enjoyed it. The greens were very good and made the day. I especially liked the first and thought it one of the best opening holes i 've played in some time. The one at Portstewart is equally as nice mind you !! The course is well laid out and there are some very nice holes. I'd give it 8/10. The hospitality of the club was excellent and we had a nice carvery too. We played on the Sun and it cost us £70 which was expensive given that it is a good course but not a spectacular one. Play it if you can afford it !!
September 26, 2005
6 / 10
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