Portstewart (Strand) - Londonderry - Northern Ireland

Portstewart Golf Club,
Strand Road,
Portstewart,
County Londonderry,
BT55 7PG,
Northern Ireland


  • +44 (0) 28 70832015

  • Judith Hutton

  • Willie Park, Des Giffin

  • Neil Graham


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Portstewart (Strand)

New 1st tee on Strand course - photo by Bernard Findlay Dec 2009Portstewart Golf Club was founded way back in 1894, but the origins of golf being played here date back even further to 1889. The Strand course is a bit of a hybrid, a mix of the old and the new. Major development took place in the late 1980s when the original Willie Park layout was updated and seven new holes were constructed in the virgin sand dune range called “Thistly Hollow”. The new Strand course, designed by Des Giffin, opened for play in 1992.

And what an exhilarating golf course this is, set amidst imposing, gigantic sand dunes with panoramic views across the Atlantic mouth of Lough Foyle to the Inishowen peninsula beyond.

The Strand is an incredibly challenging and thoroughly enjoyable golf course, with one of the best opening nine holes in golf. The 1st hole is an absolute stunner, one of golf’s most intimidating, a downhill 425-yard par four. There is a plethora of great holes here at Portstewart Golf Club; especially memorable are two of the new par threes, the 3rd and the 6th. The 3rd is a challenging single shotter, measuring 207 yards, whilst the 6th, measuring a mere 140 yards with a plateau green, is also a tough cookie and will stay in the mind for a long time.

James W Finegan on the course: “How good is the Strand course at Portstewart? For my money, just one rung below County Down and Portrush and under no circumstances to be missed.” From Where Golf is Great – the finest courses of Scotland and Ireland.
Credit must go to the designer because the new holes blend seamlessly with the old holes. Sometimes, when new land is taken in, there is a punctuation between the old and the new. Not so at the Strand.

A golfing trip to Northern Ireland would not be complete without a round on the Strand course. The members here are very warm and welcoming and if you add this course to a round at both Royal Portrush and Royal County Down, you will have played three of the world’s finest links courses.

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Reviews for Portstewart (Strand)

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Description: The Strand course at Portstewart Golf Club is exhilarating. Set amidst imposing, gigantic sand dunes with panoramic views across the Atlantic mouth of Lough Foyle to the Inishowen peninsula beyond. Rating: 8.4 out of 10 Reviews: 34
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Luke Willmott
I played this quality links course last week in typical Northern Irish February weather - cold, wet and windy. A winter green fee of £40 was good value, when you compare it to the £95 summer fee. On a Friday, we had the course to our selves, something to do with the weather me thinks! This course should really be ranked along side the more revered Royal Portrush - I suppose Royal status and a much longer and richer history counts for a lot in course rankings. The front nine, as with previous reviews gets the plaudits and rightly so. There is a definite feel of a course like Enniscrone - heading out into the massive dunes on a thin spit of land surrounded by water, flanked by holes on the flatter landward side. The first is a cracking opener with an inviting downhill drive looking towards the giant dunes and the strand to the right. At the 2nd you could be at Carne and further out on the outward nine you feel you could be at Royal County Down, with all the whin bushes or Lahinch on the 8th, a favourite hole of mine. The inward nine skirts around the dunes and therefore is a little more exposed and less dramatic, but is still links golf of the highest order, having really enjoyed 10,11 & 14. The closing 3 holes occupy the open land in front of the fantastic new club house and whilst not being as visually stunning as what has gone before, are still good solid links holes, nonetheless. The greens, although a little brown in colour, ran very true and would I’m sure, be devilishly quick in summer. The general condition of the course was first class with tees, paths, fairways and bunkers expertly kept, although a slight quibble would be a lack of hole information on the set of tees we were playing from. The course proved fair and very playable, even in very the testing conditions, wayward shots, off the tee especially, were found, admittedly with plenty of awkward stances and lies. Overall, a great example of Irish links golf which MUST be played if you’re on a trip of N.Ireland. Definitely put this course in your bracket with RCD, Portrush and Castlerock.
March 02, 2010
10 / 10
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Mikxe
No doubt, the outward nine holes are first rate. Those pyramidal dunes remind me of Carne. But the back nine peter out. What’s more, Portstewart has the slowest-playing membership in the British Isles. We played in the first tee time after the last of their Saturday four-balls, and it took five+ hours to get around—in the dark. If private clubs want visitors to subsidize their cheap memberships, they should at least let us finish our 100-quid rounds during daylight.
November 05, 2009
6 / 10
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moreski
November 06, 2009
I agree entirely with the above review. The front 9 are some of the best golf holes I have ever played and the first tee is stunning. I share your frustration about slow play though. We played as a four ball, and were held up all the way round. We came in after 16 which had taken 4 hours 45 minutes. Absolutely shocking. Difficult to know whether this was attirbutable to members or visitors, but it seems as though when busy they have a significant problem.
Paul Barron
We arrived on a sunny day with no wind at all and were immediately, very impressed by the view from the first tee, over looking the dunes and the Atlantic. There was no doubt that the constructions of the first nine holes are fantastic and much has been said already about the feeling you get amongst the dunes. However, some of the back nine are fairly ordinary. Also on this visit we were disappointed to find the first nine holes were top dressed with seeding down. When we complained to the manager/secretary he was shocked and indignant that anyone should dare to complain – his stock answer was “Ah, but did your ball run straight and true”, It seemed to me that there was some recovery plan taking place on the greens – unusual to come across top dressing and seeding in late July! They have spent 3.5 million on the new club house and it looks very grand. 22/07/09
July 28, 2009
6 / 10
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David McGill
Exceptional in every way. A little chaotic with new clubhouse being implemented but a fine day of golf on a very clever design. Front nine is try eye candy and as fun as you can get playing between and over dunes that rival RCD and Portrush. Second nine is more exposed to wind and IMO more difficult. Perhaps not as memorable but also of high quality. Great staff as well. Dave McGill Ohio
June 13, 2009
8 / 10
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Dean Paul
It is a fine course with breathtaking views and better scenery than Castlerock or Portrush. It is short of the best due to poor qulaity greens which are differently paced over front and back nines, bumpy and inconsistent in grass texture. The bunkers were poorly re-designed in 2006 and cause too much penalty for any golfer having shallow sand and incorrectly filled grading so that balls stick near the face and sides. The worst holes are 16 (which is the weekest green and no features at all) and 17 which is a total idiocy with a ludicrously unfair plateau approach taking even good shots well off line. If it were shortened by 50 yards and the green at 16 re-designed the 18 are the best links anywhere. Just to finish off: Bunkers are not protected by collars of first cut and far too difficult to make them fair, and there are too few to give features and definition especially on the outer nine. This is such a pity as the new clubhouse will be splendid after completion in 2009. Come on Portstewart you could be the best in Ireland and the best links anywhere if you put your mind to it! D Paulus (South Africa)
May 19, 2008
8 / 10
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Robert
March 20, 2009
It seems that the course beat you up for you to post such a comment as that. Portstewart is an outstanding Links golf course make no mistake
Bernard
April 03, 2009
I would have to agree with Robert. Portstewart are only guilty of continual improvement both on and off the course!
Kevin Powers
March 23, 2010
To D Paulus, Not sure what courses you have played in Ireland, but to suggest that the Portstewart 18 could be the equal of RCD, European, Waterville, Portrush, Ballybunion, Carne is foolish. It is very similar to Enniscrone - magnificent holes in the dunes, with a good group on the flats.
Adrian Gaspar
Played as part of a NI golf tour and I was blown away. As everyone says the front 9 is stunning, but the back nine is very good too. I almost felt privileged to be able to play the Strand course for £35 as a member of another of the North West Links Association courses. The previous reviewers have ably summed up the best holes so I don’t need to repeat but I personally can’t imagine a links lover being disappointed with Portstewart, which I rated slightly better than the Dunluce. Is there anywhere that can offer 4 courses within such close proximity better than those on the North Antrim coast – Dunluce, Valley, Castlerock and Portstewart?
September 17, 2007
10 / 10
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Ted
Must have the best opening hole in golf on this course, a dogleg right with an elevated tee shot down to a fairway in mountainous dunes, with a medium iron to an enclosed green. the two nines were very different, hugh dunes on the front nine, relatively flat on the back nine - the front nine is quite hard walking if you are suffering from the previous nights hospitality! a new clubhouse is to be built shortly whilst the present one still operates - this should give even better views of the 1st hole and the Atlantic to the right. A good course, one I would rank marginally behind its near neighbour Castlerock.
June 26, 2007
6 / 10
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Peter Lacey
Played Thurs 26th October. Fantastic front 9 holes without doubt the most dramatic 9 holes of golf ive played to date. Super condition for time of year, great greens and tees that look like they've never been played off. Why cannot the course be re-routed so that the present back 9 is played first, if this was the case most people would leave the course with the feeling that they've played the best course ever.!! Pro was really friendly and the clubhouse food was superb, altogether a must do golfing experience. Far better than Portrush and should be ranked above it for sure.
November 01, 2006
10 / 10
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Deane Paul
May 19, 2008
Can't re-route the course when the 10th is "in the country" a long walk from clubhouse.
Cédric
One of the best first 7 holes you will find anywhere. The back 9 is not as impressive but very good anyway. Liked it better than Portrush. A great challenge. What a pity their clubhouse is not to the level of the course. 2nd minus would be that it is almost impossible to book a round by email as they never reply which is quite annoying if you don’t live in the UK….
September 05, 2006
8 / 10
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Jim McCann

Fantastic – the only word to describe the front nine on the Strand course at Portstewart. If you think of playing here as a mere limber up before a round at nearby Royal Portrush then think again as you will find this place is no golfing pushover.

Another reviewer of this course speaks about the new holes on the front nine being for ‘dune junkies’. I could not agree more – what a buzz you get from the opening drive on the first until you reach the wee halfway house at the turn. You are on a high and needing the relief of a more sedate back nine to come back down to earth again – not that the back nine holes are bland in any shape or form; they are just more sedate in comparison to what has gone before.

A power of work had just been done over the winter of 2005/6 when I played, with many bunkers relined and pathways resurfaced by the look of things. Another reviewer speaks of the clubhouse being smokey and uncomfortable – that is no longer the case as there is now a non smoking policy in the dining room and members bar. Mentioning the bar, what an elevated view of the coastline from there with the waves crashing onto the shore below.

This is very special terrain with linksland to die for – if only they had gone even further into the dunes when the course was reconstructed in the 1980s. Portstewart has a very members' club feel to the place and I, as a visitor was made very welcome throughout the clubhouse.

Playing a top course is not about teeing it up and keeping the blinkers on for 18 holes – a large part of the enjoyment is about the feel of the place and the views afforded of the surrounding land. Portstewart certainly scores heavily in those categories and is well worthy of its inclusion in the elite list of ten links courses promoted by the North & West Coast Links of Ireland.

Jim McCann

February 17, 2006
10 / 10
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