Portsalon Course Layout
Hole 1 - MEILMORE Par 4
Magnificent view from the tee of Portsalon beach. This is an uphill par-4 of 355 metres to a green set into a steep hollow in the fairway. The approach is semi-blind and challenging, just the top of the flag is visible and the walk to the green is tantalising as one waits to discover one's fate.
Hole 2 - STRAND Par 4
Mindblowing vista, this is a blockbuster par-4 of 457-metres from a high tee to a fairway running diagonally along a sea inlet and then across a river to a well trapped green. To be a hero and go for it in two, assuming the drive was safe, or to lay-up short of the river? This is a very notable hole which gets a day full of decisions and challenges underway. This hole has been voted as one of the best eighteen Irish golf holes on several occasions.
Hole 3 - STOCKER Par 4
Traditional links hole 337 metres played to the first of two successive double greens in the St. Andrews tradition. This one is shared with the new ninth hole; and the second double-green is shared by the new fourth and eighth holes. These greens cause plenty of cheerful banter and the opportunity for monster putts if the approach shots are imperfect.
Hole 4 - VALLEY Par 5
Is the first par 5 and a beauty at 507 metres down a deep valley to another double green. This is a great driving hole and the second is one of the most inviting shots one could hope to play along the valley with that backdrop of blue Knockalla mountain towering majestically behind the green.
Hole 5 - KERR'S Par 3
A terrible beauty. Measures 185 metres, an evil green which sheds all but the most purely struck balls into a deep bunker or grassy swales.
Paul McGinley describes our four par 3's as very, very strong golf holes and true links challenges.
Hole 6 - KILLAVEE Par 4
Really introduces the player to the "new Portsalon". You feel that you can taste the salt water you are so close to the sea. This is a tiger of a par 4 at 435 metres. The tee commands awesome views of ocean, mountains and the tiny ribbon of fairway running through a valley into the dunes and up to a platform green surrounded by swales and hollows. Get your drive or iron shots wrong and the salt water one tastes has a different origin.
Hole 7 - WARDEN Par 4
The seventh is a 352 metre par-4 that sweeps down a valley in the dunes and sweeps right with overtones of the famed Foxey hole at Dornoch. It features a rolling fairway to a well bunkered green fronted by a deep grassy valley. The mountain backdrop foreshortens the hole and will cost the unwary some strokes.
Hole 8 - CASTLE Par 5
Par 5 of 474 metres with the biggest hitters asked to take on the carry over a mound on the left of the fairway concealing the remnants of an old castle. Once past these fortifications the player has to strike pure and long to the double green, which has a St. Andrews-like approach of "umps and ollows" designed to defeat all but the most imaginative shot makers.
Hole 9 - RUNAWAY Par 4
Challenges for the accolade "best hole". It is a par 4 of 435 metres from an elevated tee to a rumpled valley fairway and along to a double green, partially hidden behind a small dune. A tremendous test and a par score here is a meritorious achievement.
This is traditional links at its best.
Hole 10 - BINN Par 3
A beautiful downhill par 3 of 147 metres to a punchbowl green. Well bunkered with run offs, demands a well struck short to mid iron.
Hole 11 - KNOCKALLA Par 5
We now see Knockalla Mountain in all its glory, its ever changing hues and colours are an artists' dream. Plays much longer than its 499 metres, normally into the wind, the fairway tilts upwards to a heavily guarded and quite small green. In an age when it is difficult to make a par 5 as a 5 for the top champions, this is a hole that does the business without recourse to savage defenses. A par-5 that plays to its full value.
Hole 12 - DRUMANY Par 3
A Muirfield-type par 3 across a relatively flat plain from a slightly elevated tee to a green perched in the foothills of high dunes. At 170 metres the green looks generous, however three distinct levels make for testing links putting at its best.
Hole 13 - GREENFORT Par 4
A magnificent classical short par 4 at 328 metres. A high tee demands an heroic drive to the right side of a fairway, tree-lined on the lft, dunes and ocean views to the right. From the fairway, one has to approach across a rugged valley in the dunes to a natural platform green that demands a very precise approach shot. This is a hole full of character that demands skill more than brawn in an age of golf brawn.
Hole 14 - MATTERHORN Par 4
This is a Portsalon original at 395 metres. The tee is high up in rocks and trees affording even more spectacular views of dunes, ocean and the hills of Inishowen. The drive is as exhilarating as any in golf to a fairway which twists and turns and falls down hill towards the green. A classic if ever there is one.
Hole 15 - CROSS Par 3
Final par 3 of 140 metres and would be a signature hole on many courses. Uphill teeshot to a well bunkered green. Hit the target and your work is about to begin on a typical undulating links green. Miss the green on the wrong side and a 4 will be a good score.
Hole 16 - ALDERS Par 4
A par 4 of 376 metres features a drive over a crest to a generous fairway. A stream winds its way across in front of the green and a very precise shot from a downhill fairway is paramount. Those protecting a good score will need to exercise sound course management.
Hole 17 - RIVER IN Par 5
A great test and unchanged for over 130 years. At 503 metres it plays it's full length, the approach up an incline to a plateau green, is fast and treacherous. Strong players can get home in two just as safely as the player seeking to play a finesse third to this puzzling green.
Do not forget to look back from the green at the majesty of the terrain you have recently traversed.
Hole 18 - HOME Par 4
Par 4, 377 metres, the grand finale to a round in full view of the clubhouse windows. This introduces the final agony of performing one's best in front of the dining-room and bar windows. The approach over a fast running stream is to a green surrounded by bunkers and swales. Take 4 for a satisfying end to a round on what is gaining recognition as one of the world's classic golf links.
*Hole 19 Heaven* Par ???
''Now retreat into the safe havens of the bar or restaurant to look back out at what is now undoubtedly one of the world's finest links and the devilish demands placed on one's golfing prowess over the past few hours.
As the thirst is slaked the hunger grows for another go at those darned links.” (Quote from our illustrious designer Pat Ruddy)