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 – and be sure to take plenty of club,” otherwise your golf ball will probably end up wet on the river bed.
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