The 2017 Irish Open venue is one of Northern Ireland's finest courses

Portstewart Golf Club Strand Course Review

Green Fee Range: £60 – £175

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,605 yards

Visitor times: Visitors welcome everyday, do note members-only times however

Website: portstewartgc.co.uk

Portstewart Golf Club Strand Course Review

Running through towering dunes, Portstewart’s Strand course has one of the most spectacular opening nines in golf.

The Strand course played host to the 2017 Irish Open, won by Jon Rahm, and is one of three courses at the club.

Portstewart debuts in the GM Top 100 at number 97. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Situated on the north coast of Northern Ireland, Portstewart is just five miles west of 2019 Open venue Royal Portrush.

A golfing break taking in both of those would be highly recommended.

Related: Top 100 golf courses UK and Ireland

It is regarded as Northern Ireland’s third-best course behind Royal County Down and Royal Portrush.

The club 1894 and its Strand course was designed by Willie Park Jr with later alterations from Des Giffin.

The 1st tee seen during the 2017 Irish Open. (Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Highlights include the phenomenal front nine, starting with the excellent dogleg-right opener.

The two par-3s at three and six are also two excellent holes.

The beautiful par-3 6th is short in length but tricky. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

To prepare for the 2017 Irish Open, improvements to the back nine included the introduction of some small dunes to frame the greens.

The par-3 12th green. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The changes have clearly paid off, as Portstewart’s Stand Course has entered the Golf Monthly UK&I Top 100 rankings for 2019/20.

Course changes

Report from Bernard Findlay, Course Manager

“Going back to the early 90s, Portstewart had gained many plaudits about the spectacular front 9. We started building these in 1986. However, we were keen that the back 9 should not be overlooked. Key changes started just 11 months before the Irish Open, in September 2016.

The 10th and 13th greens and approaches were separated only by the 14th tees, leaving no margin for safety or spectators. The 14th hole was the second of two straight par 5’s. I put together a plan and invited comment from the Greens Committee, our Pro and fellow Green Staff.

The 10th green and apron was without character or undulation. We lifted the turf off the complete left half of the green and apron, then laid it out on a nearby piece of semi-rough. The rootzone was removed to a depth of 300mm. Subtle undulation and run-off were introduced, carefully replacing and firming individual layers of rootzone. Turf was replaced 2 weeks later (removal & replacement of turf involved long hours and very sore muscles!).

The 14th tee set was moved 100 yards to the right, creating a 522 yard dog-leg par 5. The route to the dog-leg of this hole did not exist and required the removal of 3,500 cubic meters of material. A huge bunker was placed in to a hill at the inside of the dog-leg and two bunkers placed beyond the dog-leg on the left side, so making this a risk and reward shot from the tee.

The material removed to form the 14th was placed around the 10th and 13th greens & approaches and used to build dune then planted out with 70,000 individual Marram Grass plants, the shoulders of these dunes ‘bleed’ in to the 10th green.

Finally, we built a raised 18th championship tee, extending this par 4 to 471 yards and bringing in to play bunkers positioned both left and right of the landing area. According to the stat’s this proved to be the most difficult hole on the Strand course through the Championship.

Apart from a contractor with a large digger and trailers, the work was carried out by our own Green Staff. By the time the Championship came around the ‘joints were seamless’!

We feel a little sore that scores were so low through the Irish open, as you may recall the wind didn’t turn up for the occasion. So, plans for the future will likely include the addition of some bunkers and one or two other exciting ‘new developments’…..”

Portstewart Golf Club Strand Course Review – GM Verdict

A stunner of a course situated between river and sea