A Week of Golf in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Golf Blog

Ballycastle Golf Club

Located on a small area of land the first 5 holes are played on parkland surrounding around the old graveyard. Those are the scoring holes with a par 5 to start and a couple of short 4s to ease you in. Water is in play on the first two holes, however, should your driving be wayward.
The second section leads across the links settings including a hole across the beach edge. Three tough drives despite the short yardage comprising of tricky greens too. If the wind blows hold on to your score until the 11th. The 10th and 11th tees provide stunning views over the Irish Sea with the possible sighting of Scotland on a clear day. The back 9 with the exception of the 18th are played on heathland setting on top of the hill. There are some good holes however with frequent blind shots. The 16th is a good risk and reward drivable par 4. And the eighteenth is a good finishing par 5 made tight with the out of bounds left and rough to the right.

Riverside, Portstewart Golf Club

Slightly missed named the riverside had 2 holes alongside Northern Ireland’s longest river and the rest is squeezed into the adjacent land. There are many water hazards which defend what is a flat unattractive layout. Short 4s will be over powered by long hitters and the greens are relatively flat and defenceless.
Perhaps the reputation of the Old Course and the Strand course overshadow what is more accurately described a good challenge for mid to high handicappers. There are a few good holes which challenge players both tactically and with shotmaking. Portstewart is blessed with a wonderful location and on that spectacular June day it was a fun round but lacking the teeth of a tough test.

Galgorm Golf Club

Home to the Irish Open Challenge Tour event. It’s set on a terrific piece of land winding through long established trees. There are very few opportunities to see surrounding holes and witness any local scenery. It is very challenging due to its length, deep lush rough, continuous water hazards and slick greens.
There is very little rest bite until back-to-back par 5s at 9 and 10 to score. Each hole challenges players to shape the ball both ways and play a variety of shots but with length. The greens are no safety net they are large but undulating and quick. The front nine contains the most memorable holes with the second nine, all be it tough, providing better scoring opportunities. The eighteenth is a fairly disappointing finish to what is a terrific park land test in a links dominated golfing country. A brilliant test of golf for mid to low handicappers if links is not always your style.

Gracehill GC

A hidden gem situated in the quiet centre of Northern Ireland near the dark hedges. It contains a good mix of long holes, short holes, tight drives, dangerous water hazards and sone amazing par 3s. The first contains an incredible approach across water with the green set between two towering trees. The drive has to be spot on to go for the green in two. The four par 3s are stunning. Three tough shots over water reminiscent of famous par 3s across the globe. The par 5s are largely uninteresting given their relative lengths. There are some very good par 4s particularly on the back 9. Holes 10, 13 and 18 are fantastic driving holes with tight approaches. The 13th is a stunning treelined par 4 which is as tight as a smarties tube. reminiscent of Wentworth it is a real jewel in the crown on the back nine. Scoring will be high in changeable weather. Perhaps with better green-keeping equipment the fairways and greens would match the standards of nearby neighbouring courses.

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