TOURNAMENT TEST OF HIGHEST ORDER AFTER LATEST COURSE CHANGES AT GALGORM
Three-year course development programme to complete by spring 2023
The Galgorm golfing evolution continues at pace with the biggest course development project phase yet now underway and set to deliver the final ‘wow factor’ when the multi-million investment programme concludes in spring 2023.
Galgorm is into the final year of its three-year course development programme where work carried out this winter will rubberstamp Galgorm’s reputation as one of the best venues in the country.
Since 2010, Northern Ireland’s internationally acclaimed tournament venue has hosted over 15 professional tournaments on some of the game’s leading tours: the DP World Tour, European Challenge Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour plus the Clutch Pro Tour, the leading developmental tour for men and women professionals in the UK and Ireland.
“There has never been a more exciting time for golf at Galgorm,” explains Gary Henry, Managing Director Galgorm Castle. “For over a decade, the owners have reinvested in Galgorm with annual winter course projects plus numerous other additions and features across the 400-acre site.
“As we look ahead to 2023, we are delighted to enter the final stages of our three-year course development programme where the course changes are certain to impress golfers at every level when they play our championship parkland.”
“This year’s programme of works will help to showcase our biggest natural assets – the River Maine and the River Braid – on holes 11, 13 and 14 while also completing a second phase of work on the ninth and the creation of additional teeing ground at the first hole.”
“These final projects are the culmination of hard work and innovation as changes to the championship course will have a real and lasting impact for golfers of all ability,” added Henry.
Work is almost complete at the 177-yard par three 14th where a new boulder wall along the bank of the River Braid creates an exciting new visual impact.
The putting surface has also been enlarged to the right and now wraps around the bunker. This will allow for dramatic and testing new pin positions, especially during tournament weeks.
The 14th teeing areas are perched above the confluence of the two rivers and a new tee box has been added to create a different angle of approach to the green. From the new tee box Slemish Mountain is visible on a clear day. In addition, the ‘general play’ tee box has been extended towards the river to create a more exciting tee shot for all abilities.
The River Maine features prominently on holes 11 and 13 where new tee boxes are being introduced along the water’s edge, adding an exciting new element to tee shots for both tournament professionals and amateur golfers. Fairway and greenside bunkers will be added to both holes with respective stroke indexes of three and one. The new changes won’t make the holes any easier either and par is a fine score for any golfer.
“In previous years the primary objectives behind our development work were to improve course drainage, enhance the paths network and improve the course’s playability. We are now one of the drier parklands in the country, which would not have been the case in the early days,” added Henry.
“In recent years, we have refurbished all original bunkers with some repositioned, while adding many new bunkers. The bunkering here is unique for Northern Ireland as our bunkers are large and play a prominent role in the design and strategy of the holes, more akin to some of the large American championship courses.”
Galgorm has been lengthened significantly over the years and now stretches to almost 7,300 yards from the championship tees – the longest parkland in Northern Ireland. This is no surprise considering how important length is for tournament venues in the modern professional game. However, with a minimum of four tee boxes on every hole the course runs from 5,505 yards (red tees) to 7,276 yards (blues), while the course measures 6,101 yards from the green markers and 6,602 yards from the whites.
The current three-year course development plan began in 2020 with multiple projects each year, while one signature project has always stood out. The first signature project was the redesign of the 18th hole where a brand-new water hazard with sleeper wall comes into play immediately left of the green, making it one of the country’s most dramatic finishing holes. In 2021/22 the major project was the redesign of the lake to the left of the ninth fairway and it now features more prominently from the tee shot.
This year’s work will complete the redesign of the ninth hole by enlarging the lake near the green, which will soon flow out into what is currently the fairway. A wooden bridge will take golfers across the lake and a boulder wall constructed in the face of the lake. This will significantly change the strategic challenge of the hole and provide an impressive new feature.
“Completion of this work will bring a close to the 25th anniversary of Galgorm Castle Golf Club and everyone at Galgorm is extremely proud of what has been created. We now believe we have one of the best championship parklands on the island, which challenges some of the best players in the world on an annual basis from the men’s and women’s game, while also offering a beautiful experience on a classic Irish estate for all golfers,” added Henry.
“Our members are already excited by the most recent changes, and we are all looking forward to the spring when everyone can enjoy the new challenges this phase of works will bring. Next summer, we look forward to hosting the players from the DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour once more for the ISPS HANDA World Invitational.”
There is much to reveal away from the fairways too. In September the new Castle Barn at the clubhouse opened where members and visitors can take full advantage of the ‘indoor-outdoor oasis which has style in abundance’. It really is a great place to relax after a game and enjoy live sport on the big screens or grab a bite to eat with cocktails and entertainment with friends – plus enjoy live music on weekend evenings.
Galgorm has been busy collecting more awards in recent times too with further silverware picked up at last week’s 2022 World Luxury Awards when named Luxury Spa Resort for Northern Europe. Galgorm was also named winner at the 2022 World Spa Awards.
The journey doesn’t stop as Galgorm promises more exciting news to come. It really is a case of watch this space when new announcements will be made as Galgorm continues to lead the way as Northern Ireland’s standout golf destination.
C/O Paul Gallagher (PGPR)