Portmarnock Golf Club
Tom Doak recommends golf architecture students pay special attention to the routing at Portmarnock Golf Club.
Tom Doak explains in The Confidential Guide that Portmarnock is to Irish Links Golf what Muirfield is to Scottish Links Golf.
The Portmarnock Golf Club is a male-only members club but women are welcome and able to use all of the facilities on hand.
Rumour has it the land was used as a private golf course since about 1850 by famous distiller John Jameson.
Golf Course Review
Portmarnock Golf Club is one of the world’s greatest links golf courses. It is situated on its own peninsula and laid out generously over 500 acres! The city of Dublin lies directly opposite to the West and the Irish Sea, Ireland’s Eye, and the Hill of Howth to the East. Portmarnock Golf Club is known historically as Dollymount.
Portmarnock Golf Club History
On September 10, 1894, William Pickeman and George Ross would visit Dollymount to see the peninsula’s potential for use as a golf course. After securing the lease on October 1, 1894, William Pickeman created the original 9 hole golf course with Mungo Park acting as consulting green architect. By 1896, Goerge Coburn added the next 9 bringing the total to 18.
Early on, Portmarnock Golf Club was accessed by ferry (see below) or during low tide, it was forded in motor cars or by horse-drawn carriage.
Improvements were made to Portmarnock Golf Club in 1905 and 1906 in preparation for the 1907 Irish Open Amateur Championship. The following were noted as alterations:
- 4th hole extended by new tees and two fairway bunkers added (480 yards)
- 6th and 7th holes combined to create a new 6th (520 yards)
- New Par 3 7th (175 yards)
- 8th hole lengthened 80 yards (300 yards)
- 11th hole lengthened 30 yards (450 yards)
- 15th hole lengthened 70 yards (500 yards)
In 1907, the golf course measured 3085 yards out and 3130 yards in, for a total of 6215 yards!
Fred Hawtree added the third set of nine in 1971. The three nines are now known as Yellow, Blue, and Red. It is the Blue and Red nines that make up the Championship Course.
Nearly 100 years later, in preparation for the 2003 Irish Open, Martin Hawtree introduced the par 3 12th and refined the greens on 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 14. Tees were also added on holes 12, 15, and 18 stretching Portmarnock Golf Club to 7466 yards!
Portmarnock Golf Club Synopsis
There are no massive dunes and the site is exposed to the wind. The challenge is presented and fairly laid out with penal bunkers at the ready if one gets too greedy. This is east coast Irish links golf of the highest order. Similar to East Lothian links, subtlety and nuance are hallmarks rather than bold dunes.
Portmarnock Golf Club - Videos
Watch Hidden Links Video of Portmarnock Golf Club
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Featured Architect: Alister MacKenzie
As taken from his book, Golf Architecture, Alister MacKenzie felt the following were essential: The course, where possible, should be arranged in two loops of nine holes. There should be a large proportion of good two-shot holes and at least four one-shot holes. There should be little walking between...