The course at Galgorm Castle Golf Club lies within a spacious 220-acre estate that was once the ancestral home of the McQuillan clan and the Castle that looms over the 10th green dates back to 1618, when it was commissioned by Sir Faithful Fortescue.
The lush fairways of the course are laid out in mature parkland, bordered on two sides by the rivers Main and Braid, with several small lakes adding further aquatic interest. Because of the low-lying aspect of the site, four of the fairways were actually raised during construction to cope with potential flooding problems in the future.
The short par four 4th is a hole to be reckoned with on the front nine (even though it only ranks as stroke index 10 on the card) as the fast flowing waters of the Braid River race past the front of the green. “Treasury,” the 141-yard 7th is another hole where water must be crossed between tee and putting surface.
On the inward half, locals will tell you the only way to play the 177-yard 14th, named “Devil’s Elbow,” is to “aim at the Slemish Mountains on the horizon,” but don't go too long or too far right, otherwise your golf ball will probably end up wet on the river bed.
Mount Juliet was due to host the Irish Open in
May 2020 for the first time since 1995, but the event was postponed due to the
coronavirus pandemic. The European Tour hoped to stage the tournament later in
the year at Mount Juliet, but quarantine restrictions for travellers into the
Republic of Ireland forced the European Tour to move the event to Galgorm
Castle in Northern Ireland (Sept 24-27).
After spending a few days playing along the northern coast, Galgorm Castle added a bit of variety to our itinerary of mainly links golf. Although it felt good to get away from the strong coastal wind there was absolutely no let up when it came to the challenge provided on this tough, modern and exciting parkland design. With fast undulating greens and plenty of water hazards, including two rivers and a handful of lakes, it's easy to see why this course is such a popular venue for the annual Northern Ireland Open. We visited a week or so after the event and decided to play from the much shorter daily tees measuring just over 6100 yards, almost a thousand yards shorter than the tour tees. With wet rough and no run on the ball after some heavy rain this was comfortably long enough for our group as none of us bettered our handicaps. Certainly one of Northern Ireland's better inland courses and a quick stop at the halfway house has to be recommended as they serve one of the best on-course hot dogs I've ever tasted. Brian W
I’m more than a little surprised to be the first person to review the Galgorm Castle course on the Top 100 site, having played it today in the pro-am for the Northern Ireland Open. I really would have thought a resident in this part of the world would have been keen to tell others about its many virtues before now.
The course is set in a stunning location, where fairways are routed around a beautiful old estate, and its’s evident right from the outset that this place was constructed with tournament play in mind. Many of the holes dogleg either right or left on a pretty flat landscape and if you’re off the short cut grass and into the rough then you’ll probably drop a shot because it’s so thick.
A great deal of the golfing interest here is found in the green contours, whether it’s a severely sloping putting surface like the 1st or a two tiered affair like the 12th so make sure your putter is in good working order.
The two rivers play a large part in proceedings between the 4th and 15th, with around half the holes threatened by water hazards.
thought the four tightly bunkered par threes were excellent, varying in length from 138 yards to 198 yards from the regular tees. As you might expect the day before a national professional championship, the course was in immaculate condition though it played a little long in the damp underfoot conditions today.
The greens must have stimped at well over ten, which was easy enough to handle for professional Jack Senior in our group, but his three amateur playing partners found it rather hard to cope with, I must admit. I believe the course only opened in 1997 so it’s a modern track that will appeal to those who like their parkland golf to be both scenic and challenging.
he pros will make it look easy over the weekend, of course, but you should treat it with the utmost respect if you play here as it will pose a stiff golfing examination.