Portumna Golf Club Course Review

Portumna has one of the best courses in Co. Galway plus a 17th hole sometimes mentioned in 'best in Ireland' conversations...

Portumna Golf Club - 16th hole
Approaching the 16th green at Portumna in Co. Galway
(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Portumna Golf Club Course Review

GF €30-€45
Par 72, 6,684 yards
Slope 125
GM Verdict – A rhythmic, free-flowing parkland wrapped up in deep forest.
Favourite Hole – The 16th is the shortest par 4 playing alongside the forest, yet it requires two careful shots to find a high green.

Portumna Golf Club - 13th hole

The challenging 13th hole where staying away from the trees is a must

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

This is a parkland beauty lost in deep forest, cavorting over old estate lands where deer roam and towering trees stand old and alone. It is big and muscular, it has the frills, it has a signature hole (par-5 17th) often discussed in conversations about Ireland’s ‘best holes’, and it rates highly in national rankings. Why then is it on a list of 'hidden gems' rather than one about the best golf courses in Ireland? It is a head-scratcher, for sure, but Portumna continues to fly below the radar, probably rating as the second-best course in County Galway behind only the splendidly remote links at Connemara Golf Club.

Portumna Golf Club - 17th hole

The signature par-5 17th is regarded by some as one of the best holes in Ireland

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

The course moved to the Harewood Estate in 1935 and was extended to 18 holes by Eddie Connaughton in 1992. It boasts low, easy-moving terrain with forest bordering all sides. This gives Portumna a peaceful isolation. This is amplified by the mature oak, ash and beech trees scattered across the heart of the course. It all combines to create a relaxing rhythm that’s easy to settle into. It is also a thoroughly playable course for all standards of golfer. The deer add an extra flourish as do the stone towers which appear sporadically. These were erected as viewing points when the estate hosted horse races across the land. They are a unique and quirky feature as is the old lime kiln behind the 6th green.

Portumna Golf Club - 16th hole

Looking back up the 16th hole

(Image credit: Kevin Markham)

Portumna promises a tantalising day with the driver especially if you are a straight hitter. Trees often make the tee feel enclosed – doubly so for the holes adjacent to the forest – which means shaping the ball needs control. But weave your way past the trunks and canopies, and Portumna’s graceful design, rolling over gentle ridges and crests, is richly rewarding.

What works so well is how attractive the holes look from the tee. There are several standout holes: the 5th is an immaculate downhill par 3 swallowed up by trees while holes 6, 13 and 14 are beauties, too. A special mention must, however, be made for the final three holes which form Portumna’s signature stretch. The short par-4 16th promises two sweet shots next to the forest, with trees squeezing the approach to a green on the rise. The par-5 17th is much discussed because of the long lake (the course’s only water) along the right, which threatens all approach shots to a green on the water’s edge. Then, at 181 yards, the bunkerless 18th is a surprisingly daunting finish, with a green benched into a rising slope. Don’t be short.

Kevin Markham
Kevin Markham

Kevin Markham stepped into a campervan in 2007, and spent the next 14 months playing every 18-hole golf course in Ireland… 360 of them. He wrote two books on the back of those travels and has been working in the golf industry ever since, both as a freelance writer and a photographer. His love of golf courses has seen him playing extensively in Scotland, as well as across Europe. In total, he has played over 550 courses including most of Scotland’s top 100, and over half of Portugal’s growing number. He writes for the Irish Examiner newspaper, Irish Golfer magazine, and Destination Golf, and is a regular contributor to Golf Monthly. He has his own photography website – kevinmarkhamphotography.com – and spends hours on golf courses waiting to capture the perfect sunrise or sunset.

Kevin can be contacted via Twitter - @kevinmarkham