Royal Portrush Golf Club (Dunluce Links)
Northern Ireland

Sixth hole, 190 yards; The design of this hole may well be the equal of the more famous 14th hole. It is fittingly named Harry Colt’s, a tribute to perhaps the master of all time in building great sets of one shot holes. Colt leveled off a dune top and the green site on a plateau makes the hole an exacting shot with thegreen complex shunting aside the indifferently hit ball. A fade is ideal, as the green angles away to the right. Once again, no bunkers were required, so good is the land. The green is two tiered and along with the 8th, is the longest on the course. Getting at a back hole location is the single most demanding approach shot at Portrush. Unfortunately, the thick nature of the rough (which can result in a lost ball) means that anyone chasing after such a hole location is either supremely confident or foolish indeed.

This view from well left of the hole shows the 45 yard long 6th green as it rises to a back plateau.

Eighth hole, 375 yards; This dogleg swings to the right but the golferneeds toavoid the temptation to shorten the hole too much as the corridor between the dunes narrows 90 yards from the green. A well played three wood leaves the golfer on a plateau with a level stance looking down the length of a long slender green perfectly nestled between dunes. With a green that is 45 paces deep, the key to this modest length hole is in controlling one’s short-ish approach, never but so easy with a ‘breeze’ about.

The way Colt found/created green sites on top or in dunes separates Portrush in quality from all most all other links.

Closer up at the 8th, the day's hole location is actually 37 paces onto the green, requiring at least one additional club for one's approach.

Twelfth hole, 390 yards; A much respected links hole, thanks entirely to its green complex which falls away on all sides. A hidden twelve foot deep bunker long left is to be avoided at all costs. Once aware of its presence, most golfers shy well away and end up chipping onto the green from elsewhere, having to contend with the closely mown banks that ring the built-up green. Though simple in appearance, the 12th is full of both great golfing quality and terror.

As seen from the front left, the 12th green seems simple enough, right until one's ball is gathered into the pit bunker left of the green.

Once the golfer experiences (or sees his playing partners grapple with) the left bunker at 12, an amazing number of subsequent approach shots are steered right. This view from long right of the green shows the subtle terror of short grass.

Thirteenth holes, 370 yards; A superbly routed hole as it attacks the dune in a manner like no other hole at Portrush, which is to say that it goes up and over the dune. A successful drive to the crest leaves the golfer with an enticing approach toward the Skerries Island in the distance. Much to Colt’s credit, he takes the golfer to the cliff line in the middle of each nine. Manyhold his two looping nines at Portrush as being among the ideal routings in the game.

The view from the 13th tee where golfers have played fine drives to the crest of the hill.

Once over the crest, the golfer is greeted with this thrilling approach.

Fourteenth hole, 205 yards; As prepared as one may be, the first encounter with Calamity rarely is successful. The 60 foot gully/ravine to the right, the wind and the sound of the pounding surf make the bail out area to the left of the green appealing. However, Colt insured that if you miss one of these medium size greens that an up and down would take some considerable doing.

These golfers watch the flight of the ball from the 14th tee. The not-to-be missed Valley Links at Portrush occupies the ground below.

A view from the tee of the well named Calamity Hole. Always on the lookout for locations for one shot holes, Colt would have found this hole early on as he wrestled with the routing for the course.

Colt must have been thrilled upon first site of the rim of the crater at the 14th as it leant itself to the creation of such a unique and world class hole. However, Colt was boxed in at this point and the 15th plays awkwardly out of the dunes. The remaining three holes are over other the least inspiring property of the course. However, like everygood architect must, Colt made the most of the opportunities, primarily through his more extensive use of bunkers. The 16th is a fine dogleg two shotter, thanks to the bunkered rise in the ground eighty yards short of the green and the tightly mown fall off left of the green. And the 18th with its eleven bunkers has been converted into a strong 455 yard two shotter from an indifferent par five of some 30 yards longer. In 1997, Gary Player whistled in a three wood to set up the deciding birdie and victory in the Senior British Open Championship. The sense of occasion that this Home hole now provides makes it a much more satisfying conclusion than it is generally given credit for being. With minimal natural features with which to work, Colt’s eleven bunkers (nearly 20% of the bunkers on the entire course!)give the Home hole its interest. As The Troubles subsided in the 1980s, Royal Portrush began receiving its due recognition. As an examination in driving and approach shots, placing ones tee ball consistently between the grass covered dunes is one of the most satisfying experiences a good golfer will find. Weaker golfers may tire of hunting for golf balls and should give consideration to playing the other course at Portrush, The Valley Links. In particular, stretch of holes from the 7th to 10th on The Valley Links is the equal of any of the non-cliffside holeson the Dunluce course. Either way, a day at Portrush will linger with the golfer for a long time indeed.

The End