Five things you didn't know about Irish Open golf course Galgorm Castle

The new Irish Open host has invested £50 million in facilities over the last 10 years
Five things you didn't know about Irish Open golf course Galgorm Castle

Galgorm Castle in Antrim, host to the delayed 2020 Irish Open. Picture: INPHO/Presseye/Russell Pritchard

- The golf course at Galgorm Castle was the brainchild of businessman Christopher Brooke, who inherited the estate from his grandmother. Designed by Simon Gidman and built by David Snoddy, it opened in June 1997 after a seven-year planning and design process at a cost of £3.5 million sterling. The par-72 course, which was laid out over 220 acres, is bordered by the Main and Braid Rivers which come into play on seven holes. Set among mature trees, the water hazards include a magnificent oxbow feature and a further five landscaped lakes. Featuring four par-fives, four par-threes and ten par-fours, the course now measures 7,250 yards from the championship tees.

- The resort made its first foray into tournament golf in 2013, when it hosted the NI Open. Staged in August, it became a firm favourite with fans and players. The event was played six times between 2013 and 2018, yielding wins for Daan Huizing, Joakim Lagergren, Clément Sordet, Ryan Fox, Ross Kellett and Calum Hill. Last year, the resort staged the ISPS Handa World Invitational Men | Women presented by Modest! Golf Management in conjunction with Massereene Golf Club. The men's event was captured by Jack Senior while the women's title went to Northern Ireland's Stephanie Meadow. The NI Open returns this year and will be a Challenge Tour stop from September 3-6.

- The Antrim resort, which also boasts a "business courtyard" and garden centre, has invested over £50 million in its facilities over the last 10 years and has plans for further expansion costing over £15m over the next five years. It rebranded as Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort last year and now boasts its Championship course, a state-of-the-art golf academy, a six-hole pitch & putt as well as a 9-hole par-3 course. Wilma Erskine, who retired following the Open Championship after 34 years as general manager of Royal Portrush, joined the Board as a non-Executive Director last year. LPGA Tour star Stephanie Meadow was appointed as the resort's new Touring Professional earlier this year.

- Given the investment that has been made by the owners, Ballymena brothers Paul and Nicholas Hill of Tullymore House Ltd, it's no surprise that resort has picked up a string of awards over the past few years. Last year, it was voted the Best Luxury Spa Resort in Northern Europe at the World Luxury Hotel Awards in Finland. In February, the resort announced plans to invest £20 million over the next five years to double its room numbers and help maintain its position as one of the world's most iconic spa retreats.

- Galgorm Castle is one of the finest examples of Jacobean architecture in Ireland. In May 1607, King James I granted the Ballymena Estate to Rory Óg MacQuillan, a mighty warrior, famous for stating "No Captain of this race ever died in his bed," which the resort says "thankfully means Galgorm Castle has one less ghost.” His Castle overlooks the 10th green and a network of souterrains at the fifth and eighth greens. The Duke of Wurtenburg made Galgorm his headquarters following the Battle of the Boyne while Sir Roger Casement lived there for six years when he was attending Ballymena Academy.

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