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


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, all of which have played host to the Irish Open.

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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: 8.3 out of 10 Reviews: 39
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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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simon smith
Played this course in sept 2005 and like other people really enjoyed it. Thought the first was a great hole and one to get your adrenalin flowing. I think this is better than the first at Castleock which I rate very much. This is definately another course to play along with Portrush, Ballyliffin and Caslerock if you can. Whilst i thought the front nine was very good - i was not in total awe of it. The course was a bit scruffy in places but i'm sure this was unusual for this time of year. I liked the isolation of it all and would recommend it to everyone. It's a pity the clubhouse didn't live up the the courses's high standards. Very smokey and not very comfortable which is a shame when all you want to do is sit back and relive those last few hours.
October 10, 2005
8 / 10
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Keith Baxter

I’m sure that the Top 100 connoisseurs out there already realise that there’s some good golf to be had on the north Antrim coast, but I bet few people realise how good it really is. I have recently come back from playing some of the finest courses in the British Isles- Ballyliffin, Portrush, Castlerock (that Bann course is awesome) – but for me, the highlight of the trip was Portstewart. The Strand is a course for the dune junkies, the dunes are simply gigantic and the front nine is routed directly through them. The scene is set from the off, the 1st has to be one of the best opening holes in all Ireland and things just get better and better. The only anti-climax is the back nine, which in my view is let down particularly by the last three holes. But and it’s a big BUT, the Strand’s front nine is worthy of the trip on it’s own. Simply stunning…Des Giffin thank you.

February 09, 2005
7 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
A very strong statement ….”This is the finest front 9 I have ever played bar none”. The variety of holes, the setting, the degree of difficulty and the real quality is as good as it gets - a brilliant job in the way these holes have been cut through the dunes. The back nine is good also, the winding in and out of the dunes are left for the front nine – so not so stunning in terms of the visual effect but the Strand course must not be missed.
January 28, 2005
8 / 10
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John Moody
First off, we arrived early on a sunny and breezy morning. We had phoned ahead the day before and the club had kindly agreed to bring staff in early to produce breakfast – a very daunting Ulster version of the “Irish fry”, which ensured that no-one was hungry during the round! The view from the first elevated tee is breathtaking, looking down the fairway which dog legs right around some dense looking bushes, set against a backcloth of some imposing sandhills. 45° to your right, you look straight down The Strand beach and the Inishowen peninsula of Donegal in the distance. An inspiring start to the round. From the back of the first green there is a sharp climb to the second tee called Devil’s Hill, a mere 366 yard par 4, but you have to thread your tee shot between two more imposing looking sandhills on either side. If you manage to get your tee shot into play you are left with a short iron up to a three tier green which slopes steeply from back to front – you don’t want to be long if the pin is at the front! The 3rd is the first par 3, a 218 yard downhiller off the back tees – (the course measures 6,895 or 6,571 off the front tees) and this green is protected by some shaved banking which will collect your ball if you are slightly off line and leave you a tricky chip, pitch or putt back on to the green. The 4th, known as “Thistly Hollow” is an intimidating par 5, to quote the course planner “only one way to play this hole, drive up the middle – 2nd up the middle – 3rd don’t be short!” – sound advice. Standing on the raised tee at the 5th, the stroke index 1, 461 yd par 4, it’s not immediately obvious what line to take, as the tee boxes are offset from the line of the fairway, which seems quite narrow (it is called the “Rifle Range”). A good drive is still going to leave you with a good whack uphill, through a gap protected on either side by a couple of sandhills to a three tier green which slopes from back to front and left to right – my par here was the highlight of my week. And so the front nine continues to wind its way through the sandhills offering a combination of striking landscape and big threat to off line golf shots, but a pleasure to play nonetheless. These nine holes were only added to the course in 1992, but you would never guess that they hadn’t been in play as long as the rest of the course.The back nine by comparison is almost bland but that is more to do with the magnificence of the front nine. The challenges on the back nine are more subtle with every hole offering something to make you think about what you are doing. The view from the 10th tee allows you to see most of the rest of the course dropping down towards the River Bann, although the tee shot itself is blind, over sandhills and gorse. The 11th features a deep swale before the green, foreshortening the distance and collecting many an underhit second shot, leaving a tricky pitch up to the green a good seventy feet above you. The 13th and 14th are both par 5s leading you uphill back towards the clubhouse. The 17th is the highlight of the home stretch, although it takes you away from the clubhouse back towards the river. It’s a 436 yd par 4 and is the stroke index 2 hole featuring another deep hollow in front of the green, which is on a small plateau – the ever helpful course planner advises “ don’t miss this green to the left (or to the right!)” and I would add that you cant be short (the hollow) and you don’t want to be long either (bushes)! Other than that it’s a pretty straightforward hole! And just so you don’t feel too comfortable, there’s a 464 yd par 4 to take you home, into the sea breeze, with 11 strategically placed bunkers waiting to collect anything off line.The stairs up to bar remind you that you’ve just had a hard round but to sit with your drink and look back out over the course leaves the pleasant glow of another day’s great golfing experience.
November 01, 2004
8 / 10
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