Portstewart Strand Course

Portstewart Golf: Strand Course

(7118 yards, Par72)

The golf club was founded in 1894, but the Strand Championship course did not make its debut until July 1908. It was designed by A.G. Gow of Portrush, possibly a club member.

Willie Park Junior updated the course in the late 1920 and since then it has had some minor makeovers. In the late 1980’s Duneland for seven new holes, which would become holes two to eight on the course, were introduced from an area of dunes known as “Thistley Hollow”.

The new design was by a club member and schoolteacher Des Griffin and the old and new holes were to blend perfectly when the course was ready in 1992.

The Strand Course at Portstewart is set in classic links country with towering sand dunes. The routing provides a fair links layout with undulating high dunes, run offs to bunkers, rolling fairways and tricky manicured greens.

There are magnificent views of the Donegal Hills, Atlantic Ocean , Strand Beach and River Bann. The views from many elevated tees are magical and the beauty of the course is truly memorable.

It is a treat that will take a very long time, if ever, to fade from a golfers memory.  Every player is tested with the variety and ingenuity of the shots required to get around this demanding golf course.

Portstewart Golf Club does not appear to have employed a professional golf architect since Willie Park Junior in 1920.

It is to the credit of the Club that their own staff has largely created the layout of the Strand Course when the development of a new course can run into millions of pounds.

The changes to the front nine will have moved the Strand course up the various rankings.

Nobody disputes that the front nine is up with the best in Ireland, perhaps the best in links golf.


Portstewart Strand Golf Course Highlights

Hole 1

427 yards, Par 4

The first hole makes for a dramatic start.

It's known as one of the game's most intimidating holes, a mean 427-yard par 4 that sweeps downhill from an elevated tee. Wind strength and direction need to be taken into account.

The fairway doglegs right towards the sea and can be tricky.

You require accuracy off the tee to set up an approach to a large green.

There is out of bounds on the right and thick gorse, a line of mounds on the left.

Club selection is the key for your second shot.

The views are beautiful some say it is the greatest opening hole in links golf.

Hole 2

366 yards, Par 4

The tee shot is again from an elevated tee and the hole is visually spectacular.

It is a short par four of 366 yards.

You only need an iron or hybrid downhill between two high dunes to reach the landing area. If you miss left you could have a blind second shot.

The green is uphill and hazards are a high dune on the left, a steep fall back down the fairway for any shot not making the green and a well-placed bunker front right.

Hole 6

143 yards, Par 3

A short par three of 143 yards that can be tough.

Depending on the wind you could need a shot ranging from a three-iron to a wedge.

It has a small plateau green tilted right to left. T

here are steep fall offs on both sides and two bunkers at the front.

If you miss the green your ball could end up far enough off line to leave a blind shot.

It is both tricky and memorable.

Hole 8

445 yards, Par 4

Another long par four of 445 yards, from the tee you need about a 220-yard tee shot downhill to position yourself on a large platform.

Turn left 90 degrees to consider a fabulous downhill approach shot to a well-guarded green.


The Club has two other links courses:

Portstewart Riverside Course

(5,725 Yards, Par 68)

A beautiful riverside course with holes meandering along the banks of the River Bann.

A reasonable challenge, the Riverside is a perfect group/society course. It is of the classic links-style which is so favoured in these parts.

As the name suggests the course lies near to a beautifully ebbing river.

Features are as to be expected for a course of this style and combine to strike the perfect balance between challenge and enjoyment.

This is perhaps the course with the most universal appeal for golfers of varying strengths. 

Portstewart Old Course

(4822 yards, Par 64)

The Old Course is an institution in its own right; the front 8 holes are perched along the rocky shore, east of Portstewart town.

It is on the Portmore Road heading to Portrush with the back 10 on the landward side.

It is the original Portstewart course, a great layout especially good for groups, holidaymakers and golfers just starting out.

Walk the historic fairways that date back to 1894.


The 62nd Irish Open Championship

The Strand Championship Course at Portstewart was host for the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

 Jon Rahm overcame a rules scare to earn his first European Tour victory by six shots with a closing round of 65. His total score was 264 and he was -24 to par.

The winner's cheque was €1,019,362 and the second place was shared by Richie Ramsay from Scotland and Matthew Smith from England.

It was a momentous occasion for the Club and Jon Rahm.

He said: “ It’s my pleasure to be here, I came here a couple of years ago to play the Amateur Open and I fell in love with the place, both towns, Portrush and Portstewart. I think the golf course is amazing. It's probably one of the most beautiful golf courses I've ever seen, if not the most.”

Sharing the overnight lead on 17 under with Daniel Im, Rahm looked certain to fall out of the lead after a wild tee shot with an iron on the second but saved par by holing from 25 feet as Im took three putts to drop one behind.

After Im leaked another shot at the next, Rahm's sensational eagle three at the long fourth moved him two ahead and four successive birdies from the seventh increased his lead to six as he stood on the 11th tee.

He was four clear on the 13th fairway when a query over his ball marking on the sixth green caused concern. Tournament referee Andy McFee approached Rahm to get the player's view on his ball-marking incident after the European Tour had been made aware of the issue.

After moving his marker out of Im's putting line, Rahm had appeared to replace his ball in a slightly different spot as he prepared to tap in from 14 inches.

However, following a long conversation with the Spaniard, McFee elected to impose no penalty.

Despite having two bogeys in his final three holes having lost concentration, Rahm's winning total of 24 under par was three shots inside the previous tournament record set by Bernhard Langer at Royal Dublin in 1984.

The 79,856 attendance figure was more than the previous year at the K Club.

It appears that The Irish Open will be back at Portstewart Golf Club in 2022.


Local Attractions:

The Old Bushmills Distillery

Located in Bushmills, County Antrim, they use Irish barley and water from Saint Columb's Rill a tributary of the River Bush.

The distillery is a popular with tourists, about 120,000 per year.

The company that built the distillery was founded in 1784.

The date 1608 is printed on the label of the brand referring to when a royal licence was granted by King James 1st to distil whiskey in the area.

The distillery has been in continuous operation since it was rebuilt after a fire in 1885.

Bushmills whiskey range on display at the distillery:

  • Bushmills Original
  • Black Bush
  • Red Bush
  • Bushmills 10 year single malt
  • Bushmills Distillery Reserve 12 year single malt
  • Bushmills 16 year single malt
  • Bushmills 21 year single malt
  • Bushmills 1608: Originally released as a special 400th Anniversary whiskey.


The Dark Hedges - Game of Thrones

The Dark Hedges were used as a filming location for the "King's Road" in the television series Game of Thrones.

A beautiful avenue of 150 beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century along the entrance road to their estate. It is located between Armoy and Stranocum in County Antrim.

The trees form an atmospheric tunnel and have become a popular tourist attraction.

Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.

Season 2, Episode 1: The North Remembers - On the King's Road, Arya Stark has escaped from King’s Landing, disguised as a boy. She is with Yoren, Gendry, Hot Pie and others who are to join the Night’s Watch, in a cart, travelling north on the Kingsroad.

Other attractions:

  • Morelli's Ice Cream Portstewart
  • Scenic train trip to Derry
  • Derry City Walls
  • Mussenden Temple
  • Exploris Aquarium
  • Belfast Titanic

To find out more about our bespoke Ireland golf holiday packages, contact us today.

See all our Ireland golf tours:

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