The Portmarnock Links opened in 1995 and is a stunning Bernhard Langer designed course on the outskirts of Portmarnock Village in North Dublin. The first IMG property in Ireland, it is located in the grounds of the Old Jameson Estate (of whiskey fame) of St, Marnocks. It stretches to the boundary of Portmarnock Old golf course along what is known as the ‘Velvet Strand,’ a five-mile stretch of stunning beach that runs from Malahide to Portmarnock. The course has hosted many GUI (Golfing Union of Ireland), PGA and LET (Ladies European Tour) events since its inception and was home to the Irish Ladies Open in 2008 and 2009, the former won by the legendary Suzann Pettersen. Consistently ranked in the Top 20 courses in Ireland, the Links at Portmarnock is well worth including with other east coast links on your golf vacation to Ireland.
The Links at Portmarnock combines all of the elements you would expect from a challenging links golf course. The opening hole is a tricky test that in some ways mirrors the 1st at the Old Course in St. Andrews as the burn runs across the hole approximately 70-80yds short of the green to prevent the bigger hitters going for the hole. The challenge presented by the opening nine is the fact that the holes run relatively parallel to the coast and therefore are exposed more often than not to the onshore winds and inevitably a crosswind for the majority of your shots. The Par 4 eighth hole is a terrific dogleg requiring great accuracy off the tee and is followed by the tricky short Par 3 ninth that requires a solid iron and a large slice of luck to get it close on this undulating putting surface.
As you move into the back nine and closer to the sea, the topography of the golf changes and you begin to encounter increasingly higher dune complexes, additional blind shots, elevated tee boxes, and the overall challenge increases as you also typically, have to cope with increasing wind speeds. The back nine, in particular, requires your focus and attention or shots can disappear quickly. The finish in particular, at Portmarnock, is solid, and both seventeen and eighteen are usually played in a crosswind. The 193yd 17th to an elevated green is one of the toughest targets to find on the east coast of Ireland. The green slopes severely and there are steep runoffs, particularly on the right side of the putting surface and deep pot bunkers to catch errant tee shots. The eighteenth is a strong Par 4 finishing hole despite not being overly long. The tee shot must avoid the three strategically placed fairway bunkers to have any chance of making it in two, and four more await greenside. The tall dunes offer you some protection, but this is a great way to finish what should be a very memorable and enjoyable round of pure links golf.