Course work gets top marks at Galgorm

Development work at Galgorm continues at a relentless pace with further investment to the championship Castle Course running into 2024, which includes significant course projects on the opening hole and the eighth hole.

Galgorm completed a major three-year investment programme to the Castle Course in early-2023, but the renowned Ballymena venue continues to drive forward to remain one of the finest parkland courses anywhere in the country.

As Northern Ireland’s premier tournament venue, Galgorm attracts visitors from around the world, who come to these parts to play the renowned links courses and pristine parklands while staying in ultimate luxury at Galgorm.

When the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the DP World Tour came to Galgorm in 2020, its conclusion also marked the start of a multi-million investment programme to its championship parkland. These major projects and significant investment have further enhanced the original Simon Gidman design set within Galgorm’s 450-acre site. 

“We are delighted with the progress made to the championship course over the last three years,” explains Gary Henry, Managing Director Galgorm Castle. “We have a clear vision at Galgorm as we strive to create one of the very best golf and spa destinations anywhere in the world. A huge part of this is creating a truly world class championship course for the best players in the world to compete on, while ensuring Galgorm remains entirely playable for our members and visiting golfers of all ability.”

The final phase of the three-year programme that concluded in 2023 focused on showcasing the venue's biggest natural assets, the River Maine and River Braid that feature prominently on holes 11, 13 and 14.

“New tee boxes at the par four 11th and 13th holes, built by the banks of the River Maine have completely transformed the aesthetics of the tee shots,” explains Henry. “New bunkering and mounding also enhances the strategic challenge of the holes, which remain playable for all levels from the various tee of the day options.”

The par three 14th is a wonderful upgrade where a new boulder wall along the riverbank right of the green frames the hole perfectly. The green was enlarged on the right side to wrap around the greenside bunker to provide the option of dramatic new pin positions. A new tee box was also created left of the current championship tee box to give a new angle of approach at this stunning 177-yard par three.

“The 14th really is a world class par three now with strategic pin options on a hole that is visually stunning from the tees with the new boulder wall feature and the River Braid encroaching short and right of the green,” added Henry.

Early-2023 also brought the second phase of work on the ninth hole and its finalised redesign. A par five for members and visitors but a par four for the pros, the ninth is now one of the best risk and reward holes on the course. The original lake on the left as you approached the green now flows across what was previously the fairway approach and is complemented with a new boulder wall facing the direction of play and a picturesque wooden footbridge. A simply stunning hole to close out the front nine at Galgorm.

Although the three-year programme concluded in the early part of 2023, the ‘Galgorm Evolution’ continues at pace.

Over autumn and winter months - despite the poor weather, work has progressed on the projects on holes one and eight. The extensive new tee box complex on the 1st is almost complete and will present a different angle (from closer to the clubhouse) and less demanding opening tee shot on the dogleg par four. Work on the two new fairway bunkers is also well underway.

“The main objective for this project is to ease its difficulty and improve pace of play. Two new fairway bunkers will be added on the left-hand side - adding a new strategic challenge while also improving the aesthetics of the tee shot by helping to frame the left side of the hole,” explained Henry. 

Several trees have been removed at the corner of the dogleg on the right-hand side, again easing the tee shot. Additional tree removal has also taken place in the woodland on the left-hand side, with new trees being introduced as part of a long-term Woodland Management Plan.

The second major project over autumn/winter was on the eighth hole where the lake left of the fairway has been extended towards the green and out towards the front-left portion of the putting surface. Trees to the left of the green have been removed and new mounding constructed in their place. This will create a completely new visual when playing the eighth and ninth holes.

Away from the course, continued upgrade and reconfiguration of the car park areas is ongoing.

Championship Castle Course

Click through for a closer look at the scorecard and gallery of the Championship Castle Course at Galgorm where international tournaments have been played on the DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and LET, including events such as the 2020 Irish Open, ISPS HANDA World Invitational and is the home of the NI Open.   

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Galgorm Castle Golf Club & Estate