Review for Narin & Portnoo

Reviewer Score:


Narin and Portnoo sits between the cluster of top courses around Sligo (County Sligo GC/Rosses Point, Enniscrone and Donegal GC Murvagh) and the top courses in the eastern part of Donegal (Rosapenna, Portsalon and Ballyliffin). This logistical point is probably the main reason we have only played it once in three years of travelling the North and Northwest of Ireland.

Having played there, however, I see no other compelling reasons to leave it out. In fact, I can think of a few good reasons you should consider including it, even if it might add to your travelling time:

First, I really like the originality of the design, as far away from standard 36+36= 72 as possible. I mean where else would you find three par 5s in a row? Here you find them on the back nine – holes 13, 14 and 15. At least a couple of scoring chances you might think, and so did I...But, instead of salvaging my score I managed to wreck it by being too aggressive. Next time I will be wiser.

Second, I am also fond of courses with an opening hole which offers you a choice between a safe and an aggressive option. At N&P the first hole is only 289 meters (320 yards) with a drain crossing the fairway, which means that you actively have to choose your club already on the first tee. Here also, I will be wiser next time.

Third, if playing as much as you like at your own pace on a very good links course is your thing, then N&P is definitely one to consider. I base this recommendation not only on the single day we visited but also the state of booking sheets I regularly checked during the 2017 summer season to see if we could indeed choose our starting time freely, a definite plus given the variable Irish weather. Next time, I will stay to play more than one round, as long as the weather cooperates.

Finally, if you include N&P and then drive east towards Rosapenna, you will experience one of the most glorious roads Ireland has to offer. One fantastic view follows another. If you think views off the golf course have no place in a review like this, consider stopping on the way to play a late afternoon nine holes at nearby Cruit Island, where the craziest views, and ditto golf holes await. We did and will remember that day for the rest of our lives.

Date: January 21, 2019

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