Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links,
Designer: Bernard Langer
Championship Length: 6,886 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 73
Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links shares a similar name as its more illustrious neighbour but the similarity certainly does not end there. Like Portmarnock Golf Club, Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links is a superb links course, essentially fashioned from the same dune land as Portmarnock and deserves its growing international reputation. If anything in fact, the Links at Portmarnock (as it's also known) is an even tighter layout, distinguished by some wickedly difficult pot bunkers.
As the name suggests, there is also a renowned hotel on site at the Links and the original building was once the home of the Jameson family, famous for their Irish whiskey. Set in splendid surroundings overlooking the islands of Lambay and Ireland's Eye, you can hear the waves crashing on the nearby beach as a chorus of seabirds, make their presence felt. Bernard Langer designed the golf course and he certainly did justice to his first links design project. Upon completing his work, Langer commented: "there are very few locations in Europe that could have allowed me the opportunity to design such a classic championship links. I hope all who play it discover its magic and challenging beauty".
The inspirational use of natural dunes, elevated tees and greens, acutely angled doglegs and almost 100 bunkers, test even the most accomplished golfers. Some believe that the traps are too severe here and work has been carried out to slightly lessen their wrath. In all honesty though, the sand traps only add to the character of the course and after all, you're not supposed to hit the bunkers in the first place. If you can drive straight, play a clever round and steer clear from having to pitch out sideways, the possibility is there to shoot a good score but then that is the case at most golf courses.
One of the more memorable holes on the outward journey includes the par three 9th, measuring over 170 yards from the back stakes. You are advised to always take one club more here as the green is set on a plateau and is fronted by a depression, from where it is essentially impossible to make par. The long par four 11th is a superb hole and deserves its rating as the most difficult hole on the course, while the 18th is a superb par four, which plays alongside the sea from an elevated tee. Par here by the way, is a great end to a fantastic experience.