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

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Castlerock (Mussenden)

Average Reviewers Score:
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: 7.1 out of 10 Reviews: 43
TaylorMade
Carl Statham
We had the three seasons in one day experience here. But I can honestly say that of all the links courses I have played this ranks only below Turnberry in quality. The dunes can be enormous and knowing your way around them key. So it would be nice if the course guide had a bit of pro advice in it for those of us who cannot stretch to caddies. The negative comments below completely amaze me, this is a very very strong links where placement is key and club selection off the the tees absolutely critical. The over all care that has gone into the course (although the greens were slow for a links course) and the obvious pride and family focus that has gone into the place is wonderful. My tour now heads to Portstewart and Royal Portrush and if they are ranked higher then my reports will even more glowing. So if you are a links fan some of the views and vistas and dramatic sweeps of Castlerock will take your breath away.
July 30, 2013
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Richard Smith
The Mussenden links is an interesting collection of holes, and overall I found it to be both interesting and enjoyable. There are a few odd holes that seem out of character, and the holes along the railway are probably less interesting than the others, but overall I think this course holds it own. The gentle dogleg 1st is a wonderful opening hole, but the 2nd is a sharp dogleg with out of place trees in the corner of the dogleg that seem out of place. However I thought 8 and 10 were excellent par 4's and the tough par 3 9th was an excellent hole as well. The finish leads you back towards the dunes with the par 5 17th being a particularly good hole. Overall I held this course in higher esteem than my playing partners, and it falls short of the Dunluce and neighboring Portstewart, but I found it fun and would return to play it again. Richard Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee
August 03, 2011
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Response
Ebrahim Vahed
May 28, 2012
Also played this course on same day as Portrush. unfortunately, it was bitterly cold and we walked off the course after 13 holes(first time ever). Apparently, we missed some of the best holes. This course does disappoint and does not even compare with Ardglass, which is ranked lower. some weak holes along railway line. A well priced proshop with some good bargains available. Would give this a miss. Rather play Portrush twice or Portstewart twice.
J Penson
August 17, 2012
Can not rate Portstewart ahead of Castlerock. Portstewart back nine really poor.
Goffy
I've been fortunate enough to have played a lot of courses in Ireland and although Castlerock displays a lot of the classic links traits it doesn't quite get the juices flowing. It's not that it's a bad course, there are some good holes, especially the later holes back in the dunes, its just that there are plenty of other courses in the area that do it better and more spectacular.
May 16, 2011
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Lee Abbey
A slightly disappointing round due to a few temporary greens and most of the others being hollow tined (we weren’t informed of this before the start). We also played this course after 36 fabulous holes at Ballyliffin and so it was always going to be a struggle to compete with that. This is a good course though with the later holes in the dunes being great fun after what for me is a fairly quiet start. The facilities aren’t as good as some in the area and the food in the bar (which is franchised out) is poor despite being cheap. I give this 4 balls but suspect if I played it as it should be then it would get 5.
April 28, 2011
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

JM
I feel that the comments below are a little harsh with regards to Castlerock and it strikes me as a bit sour grapes for either poor weather or poor play or more likely a combination of the two! Comparing it to Ballycastle is comical in my view as this is one of the most balanced links courses in the area and significantly better than Ballycastle, I accept that there are some that will "not get" the opening five holes, though in my opinion it's really only 3 and 5 are lesser holes to the remainder of the course (although 5 could be made significantly better if the tee was brought up and converted to a long par 4). The rest of the course is very very good, with a good balance and mix of holes long and short par 4's and 3's though some of the par 5s could be toughened up a touch! I know people rave on about the front nine at neighbouring Portstewart but if you look beyond the lunar like landscape of them and look at the (in comparison) substandard back 9 i think you'll find that Castlerock is a better and more balanaced track! Superb I will definately return!
March 01, 2011
10 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

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
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

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
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

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 03, 2010
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

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 16, 2007
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

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 25, 2007
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Response
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.