Kirkistown Castle - Down - Northern Ireland

Kirkistown Castle Golf Club,
142 Main Road,
Cloughey,
Co Down,
BT22 1JA,
Northern Ireland


  • +44 (0) 28 427 71233

  • Golf Club Website

  • 15 miles S of Newtonards on the A20 then off the A2

  • Welcome anytime

  • Judy Braniff

  • G.L.Bailie and James Braid

  • Niall Mullen

Kirkistown Castle Golf Club in Cloughey, County Down, is the most easterly 18-hole course in Ireland and members celebrated the centenary of their golf club in 2002. G.L.Bailie of Belfast designed the original 9-hole layout and the first green keeper, Frank Polley, held the position for almost 50 years.

The course was extended to eighteen holes in 1929 and then six years later saw the implementation of James Braid’s modifications when tees and greens were altered and bunkers were reshaped and repositioned.

Visitors sometimes wonder about a couple of large depressions on the opening holes – during World War II, sand and gravel was excavated from the front of the 1st tee and behind the 3rd green for the construction of Kirkistown and Ballyhalbert airfields and that is how these two artificial landforms came about.

James W Finegan on the course: “Some insist that James Braid extensively revised the original eighteen, but hard evidence is lacking. At any rate, this is very good links golf – a turf base of sandy loam makes it quick to dry – with substantive elevation changes, a number of greens on the high ground that are fearfully exposed to the wind, plenty of revetted pot bunkers to add spice to the round, and a handful of par 4s over the 400-yard mark.” From Where Golf is Great – the finest courses of Scotland and Ireland. One of the best and most comprehensive golf course books we’ve ever read.

Cloughey is a little village near Portavogie on the east side of the Ards peninsula and the drive down from Newtownards is one of the most scenic in Northern Ireland as the road follows Strangford Lough then crosses towards the Irish sea. Alternatively, if approaching from the south, the ferry can be taken from Strangford on the mainland to Portaferry on the peninsula, crossing the treacherous Narrow Water where Strangford Lough pours into the Irish Sea.

The Kirkistown Castle course measures 6,167 yards in overall length and is arranged in two loops of nine with a par of 69 for the 18 holes. Between the opening and closing par fives, there are five par three and eleven par four holes. Many of these par fours are very strong holes, with no fewer than seven of them measuring over 400 yards.

The signature hole is the 438-yard par four 10th, named “Long Reach” where a pulpit green sits more than thirty feet above fairway level and is very hard to hold with a long approach shot. Par here is a real achievement and to score a bogey is not too bad either.

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Reviews for Kirkistown Castle

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Description: Kirkistown Castle Golf Club in Cloughey, County Down, is the most easterly 18-hole course in Ireland... Rating: 5.5 out of 6 Reviews: 2

Our society played the course at end of March, for the time of year the course was in fantastic condition.. It was an extremely challenging, but very enjoyable.We had a great meal afterwards, and hospitality was brilliant.Hope to return soon.
6 / 6
Kirkistown Castle
April 01, 2013


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Our group had great fun playing here and it’s also a brilliant value venue when scheduling a trip to play the mighty Royal County Down and the underrated Ardglass. The holes at Kirkistown are varied and entertaining. Two large mounds dissect the course and presumably these are the old castle fortifications which make the layout quite unusual and unique. The 2nd is a par four of complete uniqueness where it’s flat for the tee shot and then the ground rises alarmingly for the approach to a virtually blind green with the castle nonchalantly to the right of the putting surface. The 10th is in a similar vein but doglegged and nigh on impossible to make par if playing into any kind of wind. The course plays on sandy ground and to a certain extent has a links like feel. Well worth a visit.
5 / 6
Kirkistown Castle
September 20, 2007


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2 people found this review helpful
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