The 400-year-old Castle Upton Estate at Templepatrick, near Belfast’s International Airport, had 220 acres of its grounds transformed in the late 1990s into an hotel and leisure complex, complete with a championship quality golf course.
Designed by David Jones and David Feherty, the par 71 layout can be set up from between 5,565 and 7,077 yards in length. Holes are routed in two loops of nine through lovely parkland, bounded on one side by Six Mile Water as it flows to Lough Neagh.
The Templepatrick terrain is fairly level and fairways are generous, bounded mainly by light rough. Bunker complexes are sensible and blend in nicely to the landscape. There are many tall stands of trees – some set in long lines – to admire on the property as the round progresses.
Difficulty in scoring can be attributed to two factors, the first of which is water – ponds at holes 3, 8, 9, 16 and 18 can prove to be very costly. The other element to beware is the quality of the putting surfaces – undulating greens constructed to USGA specification that demand concentration right up until the last putt drops.
A feature hole is the 12th, a 461-yard par four with a slight right dogleg where two mighty blows are required to have any chance of recording a par score. Trees screen the hole from the river all the way down the right side and there are sand traps to be negotiated left of the landing area and right of the putting surface – all in all, a formidable hole that rightly claims its status as number 1 on the stroke index.
The club have held the Ulster PGA Championships in 2000 and 2001 and additionally hosted the Northern Ireland Ladies Open in the summer of 2007.