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Portmarnock Hotel and Links

Yardage
6600
Par
71
SSS
72
Built
1995
Architect(s)
Bernhard Langer, Stan Eby
Nature:
Flat traditional links with many modern raised greens and wonderful fine fescue turf
Location/Address:
North side of Dublin
http://www.portmarnock.com
Secretary
Moira Cassidy
Telephone
00 353 (0) 1 846 1800
Professional
-
Green Keeper
Fintan Brennan
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Access Policy:
Visitors welcome
Dog Policy:
Welcome on a lead
Open Meetings:
Fees in 1960s
N/A
Fees today
€45

Review

I am going to make an exception to my usual rule of only reviewing clubs that I have played recently: in the case of Portmarnock Hotel and Links, because the quality of its fescue greens is so high, I know that fine golfers will be pleased to have our recommendation to play it.

18th and Hotel

18th and Hotel

Moira Cassidy, the Golf General Manager here, kindly took me round the course in a buggy and I was knocked over by the quality of the fine turf. (Incidentally, I was also impressed that she had a bowl of dog biscuits in her office, as dogs are so often made unwelcome on Irish courses!)

The course was developed in the 1990s, by commercial interests associated with the IMG consultancy which manages many touring professional golfers, as one of their PGA European Tour Courses. Bernhard Langer lends his name to the design and I am told he did take a lot of interest in its development but most of the work was done by Stan Eby who also knows what he is doing.

The 8th green

The 8th green

Seven years ago the hotel and course were acquired by a syndicate including John O’Connor who is a fan of proper, fine, running golf and they have poured investment into developing fine fescue grasses, under the expert management of experienced Fintan Brennan, with complete success.

So often new fescue greens become pock-marked by meadow grass (poa annua) invasion over time but this is certainly not the case here and it is a joy to see the true roll of the ball across greens cut to at least 5mm in height and the speed of the greens is determined by the natural climate of whether there has been a dry spell or not.   

Crest in gardens

Crest in the gardens

The design is that of a traditional links on land located inshore from the line of higher sandhills that separate the course from the Irish Sea. Pot bunkering and modern run-offs to the greens are used. The white tees measure 6600 yards par 71 SSS 72.

The current course was opened in 1995 to accompany a new, large, modern hotel built around the old Jameson family residence of whiskey fame and there are pleasant historical aspects to the garden that have been preserved. Indeed the family built a private 12-hole golf course in 1858 and Bernard Langer has affectionately incorporated part of the original layout into his design.

The course runs down the top half of the Portmarnock peninsula and abuts the famous Portmarnock GC championship course.

The short 17th

The short 17th

After a relatively flattish start to the round, the course moves to the seaward side of the ground with more undulations among the sandhills, providing increased character and a challenging finish.

This is not your usual commercial hotel “target-style” of course.

It is difficult to say, without playing it, at what level of ‘joy to be alive’ it should be rated but you will not be disappointed – it is a wonderful addition to the Irish links circuit and a shining beacon in terms of its playing condition.

It is not surprising that many championship events have been played here including the AIB Ladies Irish Open and Southern PGA Championship.

Reviewed by Lorne Smith 2010.

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