Whoever made the decision to piggyback on the name of Portmarnock will not likely make the Hall of Fame for marketing wizardry. A bit of a differentiation would have been better suited.
Before delving into the specifics of the course and its related architecture it's important to stress that too many people weigh in on items which have little to do with the qualities of the course. Being warmly greeted when one arrives is a fine gesture but it is absolutely zero to do with the course itself. I am not suggesting that rudeness is welcomed but scoring points from non-golf elements only muddies up the waters.
My issue with the layout is that until you arrive at the par-4 8th tee -- the preceding holes are fairly mundane. The terrain for that part of the course is also rather dull.
Yet, when you arrive at the 8th things begin to really take off. It helps that the inward holes are closer to the beach area and the land begins to show a good bit more variety.
The green sites for the remaining holes are also more stringent on one's approach play than the early part of the course. The par-3 9th and 11th are quality short holes but with any wind can prove quite vexing.
The long par-4 12th demands a solid strike off the tee -- linking distance and accuracy. The approach is also testing -- especially to a rear right pin placement.
The ebb and flow of the back nine is always about movement - holes sliding one way or the other. Case in point, the par-4 15th hole. The hole dog-legs to the right and players have to decide how much risk do they have the stomach for at the tee. The bold play can set-up a short iron but two deep sand pits await the sloppy play from the tee. The green is nicely angled and again the approach must be hit with precision and executed without doubt.
The final trio is a quality finishing stretch. The par-4 16th slides to the right off the tee and has another testing putting surface. When your reach the par-3 17th you likely will turn back into the prevailing wind -- for many that might require a driver if played from the championship tees. The green is another fine target -- elusive to all but the most skilled. The closing hole is memorable in a big time way. Even if one doesn't play from the championship tee I urge all to walk back and check out both the view and challenge that's provided. A left-to-right ball flight can provide big time dividends and for those who feel the urge the daring tee shot down the right side can yield a major reward provided the bunker on that side is avoided. If the pin is cut in the front or back right areas it takes a safe cracker's touch to dial in the right yardage and trajectory on the approach.
If the facility were to upgrade the opening series of holes the entire golf experience would reap a major bonanza. Nonetheless, Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links has enough reasons for anyone in the area to head over and enjoy the round. Clearly, when one takes in the guest fees at other courses in the immediate neighborhood you'll be clearly reaping major savings when heading here.
by M. James Ward
Date: February 21, 2018