Castlerock Golf Club is one of a truly great trio of links courses that lie within a few miles of each other on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland. Like the other two courses, at Portstewart and Portrush, Castlerock also has more than just an 18-hole layout to offer golfers.
The 2,446-yard 9-hole Bann is the par 34 relief course for the 18-hole Mussenden and it is routed through magnificent, towering dunes that sit just off the Atlantic shoreline. Created in the mid 1980s by the late Billy Kane who followed a Frank Pennink design, the Bann course is tucked away beyond a caravan park behind the clubhouse and it’s very easy for the casual visitor to know nothing about its existence. Once on the course, golfers are isolated in their own private little golfing world, hidden from view, for the most part.
The 5th is a 491-yard par five, called “Bannview” and it’s a truly memorable hole played downhill all the way to a green flanked by sand hills on three sides with the River Bann running all the way down the right side of the fairway – wonderful! This is the tough wee course the juniors practice on at here at Castlerock, so look out for even more fine golfers to emerge from this part of Ireland in the future.
Hands down the best nine holecourse I played! While the course doe not have any bunkers, they really aren't missed. The course really lays on the most spectacular piece of land on the parcel, next to the river 'Bann' on the coast. The course is tucked between dunes and it has a wide variety of short holes, blind teeshots and small greens. The par 5 fifth is one of the most scenic par 5's on the Irish island. IT really should have been part of the Mussenden Course. The Bann really is a good warm up for it's bigger sister, but we played it afterwards and still it did not disappoint! My playing partner and I agreed though, that Castlerock should have consisted of a more roomy 18 hole course than the compact 27, with parts of the main course being laid out on duller land.
After calling the day before to ask if there was anything we needed to know about the 18 hole course, the man in the shop said no and then we arrive and were told that they were playing off mats on all holes, and only 13 holes were in play. Personally, I think that constitutes as something to need to know.
We decided to play the 9 hole course as it was mat free and the greens were apparently better. This turned out to be perfect because we managed to play 18 holes as there are a few par 3’s.
The course itself is very narrow and there are a few blind shots but is one of the best 9 hole/short courses I have played. The par 3 9th in particular where we couldn’t see the flag on the green because it was behind a giant dune but we were safe in the knowledge that if we hit to the middle of the green, the huge left to right slope would take my ball towards the flag. Really exciting to climb over the dune and see who’s ball was closer!
Lovely friendly atmosphere in the clubhouse afterwards and am really keen to go back and play the main 18 holes.
For me, the Bann is one of the most exciting, fun and totally engaging 9-hole courses that I have ever played. It is truly a gem and one that should be played at least once by everyone who visits Castlerock. You need to think your way round this quirky little course to have any chance of scoring near handicap. The greens are small and the fairways quite narrow and with the views over the estuary to contend with, it’s tough to stay in the zone. This is a spectacular tract of land and the Bann a wonderfully natural course.