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Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9 New
« on: April 17, 2019, 08:16:11 AM »
Portstewart and the much smaller Castlerock are separated by the River Bann, the longest river in Northern Ireland.
The land set along the Barr Mouth is the very definition of classic linksland and it was eventually put to good use in the mid 1980s.  The design was completed sometime previously by Frank Pennink and built by Castlerock Greenkeeper Billy Kane.  The club seems to do its best to keep this course a secret as there is little indication of it's existence.  Behind the club is a caravan park, maintenance area and practice ground which need to be tackled before arriving at the rather inconspicuous first tee. 


While pleasant, this short two-shotter is not something many will commit to memory.  So after playing the opener I was not at all prepared for what was to come.  Upon stepping onto the 2nd tee the picture is comely. To the right is an uphill tee shot for the 6th.  To the left the 5th comes rumbling toward us.  Down the middle is the second...a modest length par 4 which plays uphill.  The fairway kinks at a large dune, a feature I imagine gives flat bellies pause before swinging a driver. 


It quickly became apparent this course is no joke.


Looking toward the tee.


Now wondering what would come next, I was delightfully bewildered by a sub 100 yard hole.  So far as I recall, the only bunker on the course I saw is on this hole, in the front-left pit. The zig-zag nature of the green affords many great hole locations. Most shots missed right will leave a kiss on the card.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 12, 2022, 09:53:23 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9 1-3
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2019, 10:16:45 AM »
Phew!
Misread the title and thought it said "rebuilding" not "beguiling"


Really cool course and a wonderful contrast to the other 18
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9 1-3
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2019, 10:40:10 AM »
Splendid.
Looking forward to the rest.
Atb

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9 1-3 New
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2019, 11:38:15 AM »
Castlerock Bann 9 Tour Cont

After 2 & 3 it is difficult not to be engaged by the course. While playing the third we can see the 4th green and surmise its a bit of a utilitarian short hole.  The drop tee shot plays inside a large hollow to a rather plain green-site, but the hole is decent for that.




Walking behind the 3rd, we find the hidden 5th tee, the only par five on the course.  There isn't much of a fairway on offer, indeed, the entire course is fairly narrow.  There are options for big hitters to cut doglegs on 2, 6, 7 and 8, but the course isn't long so the rabbit can comfortably play to visual spots on fairways and not be left with overly daunting approaches.  Due to the shape of the hole, the fifth is difficult to reach in two and would require a bold and blind play over the right side.  This is an example of a perfect sub 500 yard par 5!




A closer look at the green reveals how much trouble one can get mixed up with if going for this green in two.   


We now walk to the nearby 2nd tee, which is basically shared with the 6th.  A legger left which plunges downhill. I am not at all convinced by the water and would hope a better drainage solution could eventually be employed.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 09, 2020, 05:36:58 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9 1-6
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2019, 12:22:07 PM »
Thanks for including the photo of the entrance road. I certainly like the looks of the course. The water you mentioned on 6 does seem out of place.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9 1-6 New
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2019, 08:45:55 AM »
Castlerock Bann 9 Tour Cont

One of the keys to the great success of the Bann 9 are holes 6-8.  They play back and forth over a dune ridge and in that sense they are similar. However, the green sites for the three holes are completely different and help to create variety from land which isn't terribly diverse.  Plus, the terrain is quite humpty bumpty, which even if familiar, is always unique.  It is on these three holes that we get a sense of playing to visible land for safety or, more dangerously over the inside lines. 


If the tee shot is too conservative an element of blindness comes into play which leaves a precarious situation as the plateau green has a narrow corridor for its entrance.


The juicy 8th works the same off the tee as does 6 & 7, but as mentioned previously, the greensite makes all the difference!


The final hole may be Bann's best short hole.  The green is shaped like a badly made golf tee; narrow up front and round to the rear behind a dune. 




Left rear.


Right rear. The Mussenden (main 18) 18th tee back right...and this is about the biggest criticism I can muster...the course starts and finishes nowhere near the house.


It is clear I am wholly impressed by the Bann Course, for sure Frank Pennink scored a winner.  Being a 2446 yard par 34 (sss 33), the numbers of the course don't seem overly impressive.  As often can be the case with courses designed over fabulous land, the numbers are largely meaningless.  What is important is that all sorts of stances and wind will combine to make golfers earn good scores with proper ball flight and that has always been the hallmark of links golf.  I wrote this about Cavendish, can golf get any better than this for the green fee?  Perhaps more importantly, does golf need to be any better than the Bann 9?  The great shame is that being the relief course many will not care to play the Bann 9 and  that is a terrible omission for any golfer interested in efficient, creative and beautiful design.   It is clear to me that I am more and more drawn toward 9 holers of distinction and there can be no doubt that the Bann 9 is distinctive.  1*  2019

Previous 2018-19 Winter Tour visits

Isle of Purbeck
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,67023.0.html

Barton on Sea
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66997.0.html

Stoneham
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,30823.0.html

Droitwich
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,25590.msg475757.html#msg475757

Alnmouth Village
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,65709.msg1599230.html#msg1599230

Seahouses back 9
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66839.msg1597646.html#msg1597646

Walton Heath Old
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,61415.msg1460548.html#msg1460548

Reigate Heath
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,64197.0.html

Hallamshire
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66568.0.html

Cleeve Cloud
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,49796.0.html

Saunton East
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,51415.0.html

Saunton West
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66490.msg1587657.html#msg1587657

Aberdovey
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,43564.0.html

Westward Ho!
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66480.0.html

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 10, 2020, 03:09:12 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2019, 08:48:26 AM »
Great pics!!!
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2019, 10:00:20 AM »
I thought you’d be enamoured by The Bann-9 Sean so am glad you enjoyed it.
It may be a ‘wee’ course in terms of yardage but it’s the opposite in terms of fun and enjoyment, challenge too in many respects, just like a few other alleged second or relief courses. Such interesting terrain (and scenery) as well. Such a shame it starts and finishes away from the Clubhouse. Good value for money too. More should play here.
I did a phototour a few years ago, although unfortunately the photos have now disappeared - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,56960.msg1461491.html#msg1461491
Atb


PS - imagine playing a course such as this with a restricted ball. A 25% restriction on the ball would effectively bump the yardage up to circa 3,200. I suspect quite a few demeaners of ball restrictions would struggle with the challenge of The Bann and thus with their score on such a basis although their egos may not permit them to ever admit or even try it!




Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2019, 10:31:36 AM »
The Bann is great fun and clearly plays over some of the best land at Castlerock but Thomas, your last point highlights its weakness: it is too small.


By that, I don’t just mean in length. Everything is slightly small in scale. This results in narrow fairways, early turning points and a course slightly out of kilter with the modern game.


Is this a bad thing? Maybe not. Certainly not if the ball travelled 25% less far.


Definitely must be played if in the area but not sure I can agree with Sean’s 1*

Garland Bayley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2019, 12:41:32 PM »
Gotta agree with Ally. Sure it's great for straight hitters, but can be a nightmare for the directionally challenged.

The price was right though. Free for us after a morning 18 on the main course.

Gotta wonder whether the club could attain higher quality and fame by better developing Bann holes and melding with better dunal holes of the main course.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2019, 07:35:33 PM »
There is no question the Bann Course is small, but I would say its perfectly small because the course is VERY playable. Because of the availability of fairway from the tees there is room to play layups without leaving oneself in an impossible situation of not being able to reach greens. Without question using the driver requires precise shotmaking and on less windy days it is a real option (I watched some kids playing around the course and they were cutting corners with great success).  In my opinion the options are very well presented.  When I found out the course was built in the 80s I was stunned.  This is the exact opposite of what was popular at the time in that the design footprint is very small with no bunkers (well there is one bunker, but I think it is quite new).  In a very real way, the Bann Course was well ahead of its time and I think we will see courses built in this mode in the coming years. I almost gave the course 2*, I am that impressed. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: April 20, 2019, 07:45:06 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2019, 08:35:58 PM »



PS - imagine playing a course such as this with a restricted ball. A 25% restriction on the ball would effectively bump the yardage up to circa 3,200. I suspect quite a few demeaners of ball restrictions would struggle with the challenge of The Bann and thus with their score on such a basis although their egos may not permit them to ever admit or even try it!


You've hit the nail on the head.
Golf is the only sport where the age 50-65 year olds making the decisions would be affected by their own decisions.
Roll back a baseball or enlarge every stadium? Simple-roll it back- so what, none of those leaders play the sport anymore.
Golf is handcuffed by decision makers (at every level)who've been given an artificial fountain of youth they either don't recognize or don't want to give up
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2019, 03:30:40 AM »
Sean,


That’s a slightly different memory to mine. I thoroughly enjoyed it but there were a few holes where 6-iron off the tee followed by 8-iron to the green was the best play. Anything longer and you could not find / hold the fairway.


Like I said, turning points were very early. OK once in 9 holes but not 4 times.


I left it thinking it was a perfect course for kids and short hitters.

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2019, 05:55:27 AM »
Perfect indeed for youngsters, oldsters and short hitters.
To go back to a point I made earlier though, such a course could also be easily just fine as well for longer hitters if they were prepared to haul in their ego and vanity and play with a restricted distance ball. And a smaller playing field usually mean lower costs which it turn ought to mean cheaper subs/greenfees.
Atb

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2018-19 Winter Tour: CASTLEROCK'S BEGUILING BANN 9 New
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2019, 09:21:38 AM »
Sean,

I left it thinking it was a perfect course for kids and short hitters.

Well, if all courses were as good as this kids' course the industry would be better off.

Ciao
« Last Edit: April 23, 2019, 02:54:29 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

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