Portstewart Golf Club - The Strand
|Red (W)||73||5853 yards|
|Blue M: 74.9/131||427||366||218||538||461||143||516||445||378||3492||407||407||167||555||522||198||418||436||471||3581||7073|
|White M: 73.1/123||417||360||205||522||449||135||475||411||350||3324||396||376||154||487||489||159||389||428||424||3302||6626|
|Red W: 71.2/121||400||347||166||442||334||110||423||357||268||2847||370||312||140||469||458||118||363||419||371||3020||5867|
Greatest first tee in golf
So Royal Portrush held The Open, so Royal County Down is 'the best course in the world', so Adare Manor will host the Ryder Cup - yeah, yeah, yeah. No golf course in Ireland, or indeed the world, has better views or better links golf than Portstewart.
The beautiful Strand beach, the bay, the River Bann, Mussenden Temple perched precariously on the cliffside looking like it could topple into the icy Atlantic any moment, the rolling hills of Donegal. This is the greatest opening shot in golf, this is breathtaking Irish beauty, this is Portstewart.
Rewrite your bucket list now.
Front nine is breathtaking; rest of course hold its own
Portstewart Golf Club's Strand Course has long had the reputation of having one of the most spectacular front nines in all of golf. And that's definitely true. From the opening elevated tee shot, with views of the seas and the dunes below, it doesn't get any better. And it's a fairly difficult test, too, as you work your way up and down the dunes. Throw in the wind, and you've really got to be on your game. The back nine doesn't match the scenery of the front, but it's also quite good, and challenging, too. The last couple of holes, compared to the opening holes, might not have that wow factor, but they are solid nonetheless. And again, they're certainly not easy.
Really enjoyed the course. Front nine better and strong finishing three holes. Some great views. Had a great caddy named Kevin and he worked very hard. Weather conditions weren't the best. I would play this course again.
Host of the 2017 Irish Open
Portstewart's Strand links will finally step out of the shadow of Royal Portrush by hosting the 2017 Irish Open.
There are such differing opinions about the routing. Like many others, I find the flatter back nine to be a letdown after nine holes of romping through dunes as good as any in Ireland. Traveling in my foursome was a Canadian golf architect who - when looking at the last nine from that perspective - found the course to be just as strong during both loops. Pick whatever perspective you wish.
Work being done in advance the tournament has added a few new back tees and some tweaks in spots. The changes should only enhance one of Northern Ireland's must-play links.
With Royal Portrush we looked to this course based on reviews as one of our top targets in our group's trip to N Ireland golf. Of all the courses this was our biggest disappointment. The opening hole provided a spectacular view of the course and coastline and we were optimistic about a greta experience.
Immediately we discovered that the green's conditions were terrible because they had very recently been aerated. We should have known this because they were punching the practice green while we were teeing off. This made putting a real challenge. To me that is unconscionable to have done at the high of the season.
To make matters worse the fairways were pretty dried out giving the course an almost desert like feel. I noticed few if any sprinklers in the fairways and our caddy told us they hand water all the fairways! It was clear that the course was in need of more aggressive maintenance.
That said there were certainly some marvelous holes including the finishing holes that seemed to be in better shape.
With other very good courses in the area, if one needed to cull a course from the program, I would pick this one.
Often overlooked but shouldn't be missed
Portstewart managed to be my favourite all around experience of my trip. The golf staff set me up with a last minute game with a few members who warmly welcomed me to their group. From the high first tee, the views across the dunes are stunning. The course meanders through the dunes, though it lacks the wild twists and elevation changes of Carne and Enniscrone. Everything about it is well balanced. It’s tough but not excessively punishing; it requires well placed drives to setup the ideal approach, but you can still be creative and make a decent score without the perfect shots. The ebb and flow of the course won’t frustrate you and wear you down. The modern club house and facilities are beautiful but the club keeps the welcoming Irish charm. With two other courses on the property, this seems to be a stop suited for everyone.
The front 9 is wilder and more of a challenge than the back, but you've got to remain altert and focused to score on the flatter and seemingly more straightforward 9.
A lot of fun
The front nine here is exhillerating with huge dunes. The first tee shot is as good as it gets hitting down hill to a right to left dogleg. The back nine is flatter but still challenging. The course palys hard and fast. I thought hole #8 was the best hole on the course with a blind tee shot (aim at the rock that matches the tee your playing from) to a fairway that slopes righ to left. The second shot about 130yds is all carry, a very unique hole.
Tale of Two Nines
The Strand Course is quite different front to back. The first hole offering a daunting tee shot from a severely elevated tee , with great views of the surrounding area. The front nine offers a great real of elevation change with interesting and challenging holes. We truly enjoyed it. The back nine however was a little mundane and appeared to be an afterthought and not anything like the front. Overall a good day of golf with my buddies, but uninspired finish. The course was either loved or hated by the group.