Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 8
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 8
The par-5 eighth hole on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 7
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 7
The seventh green hides behind a dune on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 6
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 6
Dunes pinch the sixth green on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 5
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 5
The fifth hole on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 3
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 3
The 141-yard third hole on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 2
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 2
The second hole on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 1
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 1
The first green on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 17
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 17
The new par-3 17th hole on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 16th green
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 16th green
Looking back to the 16th green of the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 15
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 15
The new 15th hole on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 9
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 9
The par-3 ninth hole on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 12
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - hole 12
The 12th hole on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 14th green
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 14th green
A look back at the 14th green from the elevated 15th tee on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 18th tee
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 18th tee
The new 18th tee on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club reveals the sea. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 7th green
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 7th green
A golfer hits onto the seventh green of the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 17th green
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - 17th green
The new 17th green on the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club is actually an original green from the earliest days of the historic club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - view from Dunluce
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Royal Portrush Golf Club - Valley Links - view from Dunluce
The views of the Valley Links from the more famous Dunluce links at Royal Portrush Golf Club entice many golfers to play it. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
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Royal Portrush Golf Club: Changes enhance the Valley Links in Northern Ireland

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – The sacrifice the Valley Links made to the Dunluce Links has made oft-underappreciated links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club better.

The Valley Links – also called the Rathmore Golf Club by locals – gave up its fifth and sixth holes in the dunes, so the Dunluce Links could add two new holes in its preparation for The Open Championship in 2019. In response, architect Martin Ebert’s recalibration of the closing stretch of the Valley Links was just the facelift the Valley Links needed to shed its reputation as merely a relief course, especially for women, juniors and average golfers. It created four finishing holes provocative enough to deem the 6,336-yard links a must-play on any golf trip to Northern Ireland.

As the name implies, the Valley Links unfurls in the bottom of a bowl of dunes. Its more mundane holes march parallel to one another – in opposite directions - with a few notable and interesting exceptions along the way (specifically nos. 5, 7, 8).

It's the new heroic shots coming that sends players home feeling satisfied. The new 171-yard 15th hole plays off an elevated tee into a heavy breeze. The 16th hole, the old no. 17, stretched from a par 4 into a 493-yard, dogleg par 5. Another new par 3, the 194-yarder at no. 17, incorporated a green from the Skerries pitch-and-putt course that just happened to be one of the original greens dating to the club’s earliest days. The finale is 333 yards of downwind fun. The elevated tee, overlooking the Irish Sea, feels like a launching pad with the gale at your back. Driving the green isn’t just a possibility. It should be the expectation.

( Read Jason Scott Deegan's review of the Valley Links at the Royal Portrush Golf Club )

So many highlights from a week in @northernireland - #ardglass #portrush #RCD #Castlerock #LoughErne #PortStewart

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Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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The Portstewart Golf Club moves out of the large shadows of Royal Portrush and Royal County Down in Northern Ireland by hosting its first Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2017.
Ardglass Golf Club provides one of the most unique experiences in Northern Ireland, from the castle clubhouse reputed to be the oldest in the world to dramatic holes along the cliffs, overlooking the Irish Sea and a lighthouse.
Castlerock Golf Club features two fine links, the original Mussenden Links and the newer nine-hole Bann Course.
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Royal Portrush Golf Club: Changes enhance the Valley Links in Northern Ireland
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