Review of the Month February 2020 – Portpatrick Dunskey
Portpatrick Dunskey is one of the best combinations of affordable green fee relative to fun golf experience I have come across. For the feeling of having reached golfing paradise on the edge of the earth, it is nearly up there with Carne Links in Mayo, Ireland from my experience. For variety of holes, stunning views, excellent condition with true rolling greens, I would have paid much more than £33 had I known what was in store.
It’s a par 70 of just under 6,000 yards with two par fives and just one par four over 400 yards, but certain uphill holes are very uphill can play quite long, particularly in strong winds of course. The start is solid, two relatively flat par fours in opposite directions without too much trouble around. Then to what is the beastliest hole on the course, aka ‘Muscle Skelp’, a 545-yard uphill par five that requires three solid shots to find the green. The 6th just shades the 9th as my favourite par four on the front nine, a downhill right-to-left hole with the approach played from an elevated position on the fairway to a green with two bunkers guarding the entrance. Here and on the 10th hole similar downhill short iron approach shots controlled into wind were required – enjoyable shots to play.
I think the par three 7th is one of the hardest holes on the course despite a stroke index of 13. An uphill 165 yards into wind with big trouble left by way of a steep bank, a ditch short and several bushes around to punish anything far askew. The 9th tee is in a nice setting close to the sea, played slightly uphill towards a smattering of houses, and is a birdie opportunity at 310 yards as long as you stay left to avoid the sand traps. The 10th is a very enjoyable downhill par four played from alongside the houses towards the sea in the background, thus setting the tone for the vista-fest that awaits midway through the inward half. Whilst the 12th is 390 yards on the card, it is directly up a very steep hill and is ranked the hardest hole on the back nine. It is on the 12th green where you are first presented with the view to the left down to Maidenhead Bay and across to Northern Ireland, just 20 miles away.
And so to the mesmerising 13th hole. Reaching the 12th green may have given the secret away already, but it is on the 13th tee where the vista is at its most epic and it can take you by surprise. The sun was out on the day I passed and Ireland was almost within touching distance, while the waters of the cove below were a tropical light blue making for a setting more Mediterranean than Scottish. The hole itself is great fun to play, a huge downhill par four playing much less than the 295 yards on the card, the green driveable in the right conditions. To have come so low you must go back high and alas the 14th is an even steeper uphill par four than the 12th, albeit not quite as long and punishing. You are still in prime vista zone on 14 until the 15th tee and it’s worth the walk to the back of the tee to catch one last glimpse of the coast before returning to the main upper section of the course, with some attractive short holes before finishing with a fine par five. The 18th at 535 yards is very reachable in two in the appropriate wind, with a welcome wide fairway and the only bunkers on the hole being at the green leaving little to punish two strong and accurate hits. The fairway meanders from right to left, then back to the right off a camber towards the green, so aim well left of the green with your second shot for the best run into the green.
Portpatrick Dunskey is well worth the visit. Spectacular scenery, a variety of memorable holes, not without considerable difficulty in places, in great condition with smooth greens and excellent value for money.
Review of the Month February 2020 selected by Editor-in-Chief, Keith Baxter, and sponsored by TaylorMade – click to read more about Portpatrick Dunskey.