Narin & Portnoo Golf Club was founded in 1930 by a group of local men and not long thereafter a 9 hole links course was developed- with design accredited to Hughie McNeil & Leo Wallace.
The members themselves extended the course to 18 holes in 1965.
A further significant redevelopment of the course was undertaken in 2004 by Eddie Connaughton in keeping with the club's wishes to retain the natural and classic character of the old course.
With a change of ownership at the club came the introduction of one of the world's top architects in Gil Hanse.
Hanse developed a master plan which is taking shape through 2019 & 2020. He has wasted no time in introducing changes which take advantage of the natural beauty of the site, adding drama to the course, and making it a stiff test of golf for even the most accomplished golfers..
Narin & Portnoo Golf Club is located in a delightful seaside resort in south west Donegal. The site is surrounded by the Atlantic Coast on one side, with sweeping views of Gweebarra Bay, and a picturesque lough on the other. As many classic links course do, Narin & Portnoo starts quietly with the first four holes routed through low lying flattish land before building through some lower dunes and coming to a crescendo with some dramatic holes in large dunes with glorious views. The course finishes with some pure links holes in smaller dunes. Overall the course has a very natural feel, and is cleverly routed to get best use of the dunes and views.
The green complexes are simple, natural and have enough movement to retain the golfer's interest. There are quite a number of world class holes, none of which have been overdone.
- hole 7, a par 3 from one high dune to another over a cavernous gully of long grass. The views over the coast from this point are stunning. This is the start of the dramatic holes that define the course (see pic top of page)
- hole 8 is a short downhill par 4 with a green set near the point of a peninsula. The approach shot is thrilling simply because of the shimmering ocean backdrop, and classic partially hidden green complex.
- hole 9 has a tee extending off the peninsula, and from this tee you hit along the coastline to a fairway that rises back up the dunes, and then down to another nice green overlooking the sea.
- hole 11 is a longish par 3 set high on the dunes overlooking the beach. It's a lovely links hole
- hole 14 is another wonderful par 5 beautifully and very naturally framed between dunes either side of the fairway, and up to a raised green. It is an impressive hole
An alternate hole- currently hole 14a has been built in huge clifftop dunes- but was not yet in play when we last visited in June 2019
When it comes to golf courses, I am a sucker for natural links courses.
Narin & Portnoo is as natural as they come. The setting is gorgeous and the course is a joy to play with a succession of world class holes- and it is getting more dramatic and more scenic as Gil Hanse weaves his magic.
It qualifies as a 'Travelling Golfer must play!'
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