Portstewart Golf Club Strand Course Review

Running through towering dunes, Portstewart is a joy to the eye with one of the most spectacular opening nines in golf

The links at Portstewart makes perfect use of the towering dunes

Running through towering dunes, Portstewart is a joy to the eye with one of the most spectacular opening nines in golf

Portstewart Golf Club Strand Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 97 Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 97 New Entry

Summer Green Fees

Round - £195, Day - £250wd only

Visitors: welcome every day

Medal Tee: Par 72 - 6,626 Yards


Changes since previous ranking

Following substantial work in preparation for the 2017 Irish Open, nothing new was undertaken.

Portstewart Golf Club Strand Course Review

Situated on the north coast of Northern Ireland, Portstewart is just five miles west of 2019 Open Championship venue Royal Portrush.

The club dates back to 1894 and it is now home to not one but three 18-hole courses, albeit that the Old Course is a 5-minute drive away on the other side of town.

The view from the opening tee (Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)

It is the Strand Course that is the absolute star of the show, and this evolved from an original design by Willie Park Junior . This was subsequently given a substantial makeover almost 30 years ago. Des Giffin blended seven new holes with the existing layout to create a course that is as exciting as it is beautiful.

And it is not just scenic! Such is the test of golf on offer, that the course hosted the 2017 Irish Open which was won by Jon Rahm.

Entering the Top 100 for the first time in 2019, the course is now rated as the third best in the country behind two absolute world-beaters, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, making it one of the very best golf courses in Northern Ireland.

Looking down on the green on the par-4 eighth

Front Nine Fireworks

Highlights include just about all of the phenomenal front nine, starting with the excellent dogleg-right opener. The anticipation as you stand on the first tee is huge; an elevated and inviting drive down to a rumpled fairway with the green waiting over 400 yards away as you start your adventure.

The two par-3s at three and six, both of them installed during the makeover, are excellent.

The par-3 12th green. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The back nine was often considered something of an anticlimax due to the flatter topography. It still has its undulations and elevation changes, more so than at many leading links courses, but everything is relative.

The final short hole, the fifteenth

A few tweaks and enhancements happened prior to the 2017 Irish Open, including the introduction of some small dunes to frame the greens. The result is a more balanced course, and one that is sheer delight from start to finish.

Assessor Feedback

Imagine dramatic, theatrical holes, then multiply the drama and theatre by 5. This is a course that can destroy your card in the first 4 holes, but nonetheless beckons you back with its visual appeal. The siren of the north.

GM Verdict

Running through towering dunes, Portstewart is a joy to the eye with one of the most spectacular opening nines in golf

Rob Smith
Rob Smith

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played 1,150 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, he still managed to play 80 different courses during 2021, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.