Situated on Northern Ireland’s magnificent Causeway Coast, Portstewart Golf Club presents a difficult but fair game. The Strand Course is indisputably the jewel in Portstewart’s crown for both quality of game and scenery. The course is set in classic links
country amid towering sand dunes with views at every turn of the Donegal hills, the Atlantic and the River Bann. The opening hole with its elevated tee, dogleg right to the green and sandy strip on the right, was always a particularly memorable opening hole.
For something a little less challenging, the Riverside Course stretches from the clubhouse down to the River Bann. And if you like a little heritage in your game, the original Old Course situated at the eastern end of Portstewart along the rocky shore, has tested players since 1889. Without doubt championship pedigree, Portstewart has hosted the Irish Amateur Championship in 1960 and 1992 and held qualifying rounds of The Open in 1951 and the British Seniors in 2004.
Founded in 1888, the legendary Royal Portrush Golf Club has two Championship Courses – the renowned Dunluce Course and the smaller but equally enjoyable Valley Course. Both command impressive views across the North Atlantic with breathtaking views of Scotland and Donegal but the golf is even more spectacular.
The Dunluce Course, re-designed in 1947 by Mr H.S. Colt and later in 1951, became host to the first ever Open Championship held in Ireland. During the entire tournament only two golfers managed to break 70. It’s easy to see why; the greens are scattered among huge sand dunes gently raised above the Antrim Coast providing vistas of sea, cliffs and islands. But no matter how appealing the view, attention must be paid to your game as Portrush can challenge even the most experienced of golfers. Portrush’s most celebrated holes are the fifth hole and the fourteenth. The fifth, ‘White Rock’ is one of the most exhilarating two–shots in golf. Over hit the second shot, and your ball disappears into the Atlantic! The aptly named fourteenth Hole, ‘Calamity’ requires total precision to carry the ball over an enormous ravine. Mis-hit this one and you could be taking your next swing from at least fifty feet below the hole. Is it any wonder that Golf World magazine regularly rates Portrush in the world’s top twenty golf courses?
What the experts say: “The course winds its way back inland, twisting and undulating, until it comes to a heart stopping pause at Calamity Corner. This hole, the hardest par 3 I’ve ever seen, plays 210 yards, uphill and into the wind to a green on the side of a cliff. I retired to the upstairs bar…and began the slow process of returning to our accustomed selves – the ones who play the ordinary, earthbound kind of golf.” Charles McGrath, New York Times.