Staying in the very fine adjoining upmarket hotel gives residents a discounted green-fee on this championship-style links. Having successfully dodged the two-ball I had been partnered with by reservations, thanks to a quick call to the proshop before breakfast, I secured the first tee-time of the day and had an uninterrupted, clear run at the par 71, 6,514 meter layout.
The site the German was given contained a large area of relatively flat land with some more turbulent duneland closer to the sea. This has resulted in the first seven holes being played conservatively through very shallow, almost negligible, valleys with heavily bunkered fairways to greens defended by several deep pots.
Because of the uninspiring terrain this heavy bunkering had to be done to create strategic and visual interest and Langer has done it well, albeit in a relatively safe manner. There is a very fair feel to this opening exchange with the course where there is often a preferred side to approach the greens from. The rough is pleasingly light too but wispy enough to cause problems.
During the first third of the course we do feel to have a bit of repetition at times but the strategy is sound enough to make you think about your shots and it also quickly becomes apparent the condition of the links is going to be immaculate.
A lone tree and burn must be negotiated at the first hole whilst the 7th is a tough long two-shotter with a brutal burn some 40 yards short of the green which needs to be hurdled at some point. There are also a few doglegs throughout the course, which is a bit unusual for a links because of the changing wind, and these place a premium on driving.
Things spice up between the 8th and 11th where the more dramatic land can be found. This run of holes is much more adventurous and asks you to be more creative with your approach shots to some excellent green sites. A glimpse of the sea is also offered during what is a superb run of holes.
Holes 12, 13 and 14 return to the flatter, more efficient, part of the course before we dip back into the dunes at the 15th and then move to a lovely part of the links to play the final trio of holes, all of which are excellent and make for a satisfying ending to the course.
If there is such a thing as a typical ‘links resort course’ then this would be it. For anybody flying or ferrying in to Dublin for golf then conveniently located Portmarnock Hotel & Links would make an excellent choice for a round on your first or last day of the trip.
The Dunskey course at Portpatrick is one of the most fun and enjoyable I have played in Scotland.
Not many people know but there is also a third course at Turnberry and this is the nine hole Arran course.