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HOME AT FIRST's

GOLF COURSES IN—

— Golfing Gems on the Emerald Isle —

 

Narin & Portnoo

Golf Club

GWEEBARRA BAY, COUNTY DONEGAL, IRELAND

      HOLE #15, 'INIS CAOIL' — 525 YDS, PAR 5 — #4 HANDICAP     Photo courtesy Narin & Portnoo Golf Club

Poster Child for Golf's Golden Age

NARIN & PORTNOO Golf Club abuts Gweebarra Bay, which extends to the open Atlantic Ocean and captures direct ocean breezes (and gales). Located some 25 miles northeast of Donegal town in northwestern Ireland, the course is a classic links built atop, along, and through rugged dunes links, which provide good drainage (it rains in Ireland), naturally uneven fairways and greens, and rough of wild, windswept dunes grass, and sinkhole pot bunkers that come with the territory. The Gulf Stream doesn't "warm" County Donegal so much as it keeps it from freezing, and the course is rarely closed by weather. As is the case with many a good Irish pub, getting to Narin & Portnoo requires ambition and determination, but, once there, deciding to return home is the real challenge.

NARIN & PORTNOO GOLF CLUB PHOTOS

 

H

ISTORY: Narin and Portnoo Golf Club occupies a sand spit peninsula in southwest

Donegal. The peninsula extends from Narin north into

Overview of the Narin & Portnoo Golf Club, with Clooney Lake to the right, the Gweedore Bay ahead, and the Atlantic Ocean to the left. The course plays counter-clockwise, out-and-back. You can see the dunes affect the back nine more than the front nine, but open water and wind are near constants on every hole. N&PGC Photo.

          Overview of the Narin & Portnoo Golf Club, with Clooney Lake to the right, the GWEEBARRA Bay ahead, and the Atlantic Ocean to the left. The course plays counter-clockwise, out-and-back. You can see the dunes affect the back nine more than the front nine, but open water and wind ARE POTENTIAL TROUBLE on MOST holeS.      Photos courtesy Narin & Portnoo Golf Club.

Gweebarra Bay, a lobe of the eastern Atlantic. The first two holes approach Clooney Lake, one of many small lakes set among the tidal bogs, hills and dunes of this corner of County Donegal. The current 18-hole, par-73 course started out in 1930 as a 9-holer, and expanded to 18 holes when adjacent dunesland was rented and turned into a second nine in 1965. In recent years the club has purchased all the

rented land and hired architect

 

Eddie Connaughton to tweak the course to its present condition.


 

NARIN & PORTNOO Golf Club

LENGTH & PAR: 18 Holes, Par 73
White Tees: 6,269m, 6,856 yards, Par 73
Yellow Tees: 6,016m, 6,580 yards, Par 73
Green Tees: 5,767m, 6,307 yards, Par 73
Red Ladies' Tees: 5,315m, 5,813 yards, Par 73

GREENS FEES:    Currency Converter
Weekdays (Mo-Fr): €60/round/April through October; €25/Nov—Mar.
Weekends (Sa-Su) & Holidays: €70/round/April—October; €25/Nov-Mar.

FACILITIES:
Golf Cart (Buggy): €25. Book in Advance. Subject to weather conditions.
Pull Cart (Trolley):
€3. Request in Advance.
Club Rental: €25. Request in Advance.
Caddies available on request:
Request in Advance.
Putting Green.
Practice Net.
Golf Shop.
Restaurant & Bar.
Locker rooms.

Visitors Welcome:
Advance tee times required.
No handicap restrictions.
Open & Playable Year Round.

BOOKING OF TEE TIMES (required in advance):
Tel: (+353) (0) 74 954 5107
Via the CLUB WEBSITE
E-mail:
info@narinportnoogolfclub.ie

OR: Let HOME AT FIRST make your tee-time reservations at Narin & Portnoo Golf Club as part of your next trip to Ireland. There is no fee for this service!

NOTES: Credit Card information necessary to hold booking. No charges made to your card until date of play (when you may substitute cash as payment).

CANCELLATIONS & NO-SHOWS: Cancellations without penalty of existing bookings outside of 2-weeks prior to play. Cancellations within 2-weeks of play subject to a 50% green fee penalty credit card charge. No-shows (without notice of cancellation) are penalized 100% of greens fees charged to the registered credit card.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
NARIN & PORTNOO Golf Club
Portnoo, County Donegal, Ireland
Six Miles NW of Ardara, County Donegal, Ireland
Tel: (+353) (0) 74 954 5107
Fax: (+353) (0) 74 954 5994
E-mail: info@narinportnoogolfclub.ie
WEBSITE

LOCATION: Narin & Portnoo Golf Club is on the Gweebarra Bay, an inlet of the North Atlantic Ocean, about 6 miles north of the town of Ardara, County Donegal (route R261 north from Ardara to Narin) or 6 miles west of the town of Glenties (N56 NW to the R261, then west to Narin).

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: In Northwestern Ireland in and near Donegal town approximately 25 miles (45 minutes) southwest of the course.

OTHER REGIONAL COURSES OF NOTE:

Donegal (Murvagh): Long, scenic, and, especially when windy, difficult links 5 miles south of Donegal town on the Murvagh Peninsula in County Donegal 5 miles south of Donegal town. An Eddie Hackett masterpiece rated #16 on Golf Digest Ireland's "2012 Top 100 Irish Golf Courses".

Ballybofey G.C.: Short, 18-hole parkland course with tight fairways lined with mature trees. Just east of Ballybofey, Co. Donegal, about 18 miles NW of Donegal town along the N15.

Bundoran: quality, historic Harry Vardon links 12 miles south of Donegal town on  Rt. 15 in Bundoran, County Donegal.

County Sligo (Rosses Point): County Sligo, tough, scenic peninsular course near Sligo town, about 1-hour south of Donegal town. Rated #11 on Golf Digest Ireland's "2012 Top 100 Irish Golf Courses".

Enniscrone: County Sligo, brilliant, relatively unknown links facing the wild ocean on the western end of County Sligo, about 60 minutes west of Sligo town. Rated #14 on Golf Digest Ireland's "2012 Top 100 Irish Golf Courses". Another Eddie Hackett minimalist design from the early 1970’s. Bless him.


 

THE COURSE & SOME NOTABLE HOLES

 NARIN & PORTNOO GOLF CLUB'S 9th HOLE 'THE NUN'S POOL', PAR 4, 399 YDS, #5 HANDICAP

Poster Child for Golf's Golden Age 

         If you are looking for a golf course like the TPC Scottsdale, home of the bombastic, new age FBR Open, read no further. Northwestern Ireland’s Narin & Portnoo Golf Club is so unabashedly old school, so delightfully natural, so unapologetically noncommercial, so sincerely welcoming and friendly it could easily qualify as poster child for golf’s golden age. Sure there are other true links courses in obscure corners of the British Isles that time has passed by, but most of these are just waiting to be discovered, developed, and made over into cash cow golf resorts. Bless Narin & Portnoo. The course has soul.

Hole #6 - 'Lunula'

BEWARE OF THE HUGE SAND PIT OFF THE TEE.
THE GREEN SITS ATOP A HIGH DUNE TO THE LEFT.

 NARIN & PORTNOO GOLF CLUB'S 6th HOLE 'LUNULA', PAR 4, 438 YDS, #3 HANDICAP

T

HE COURSE: Narin & Portnoo is a traditional out-and-back links set

among the peninsula’s dunes. Its sand spit setting, with 10 holes aside the Atlantic or Clooney Lake, make for both an excellent natural setting for links golf, and a scenic seaside course with sweeping views of Gweebarra Bay.

With 3 sides of the peninsula open to the water, exposure to the weather can significantly affect one’s round of golf at Narin & Portnoo. In windy, rainy conditions challenges here are vexing: drive the ball low to minimize the wind, pitch and run the ball over the irregular undulations of the fairways, and then loft the ball on downwind approaches to the course’s several elevated greens. Regardless of the weather, the peninsular scenery reminds golfers they are playing the game in the best of natural, traditional conditions, the way the game was originally played.

Hole #13 - 'Hemmersbach's Gap'

THE FIRST OF THREE CONSECUTIVE PAR-5s ON THE BACK NINE.

 NARIN & PORTNOO GOLF CLUB'S 13th HOLE 'HEMMERSBACH'S GAP', PAR 5, 505 YDS, #16 HANDICAP

          There is widespread variety among the mix of holes at Narin & Portnoo, keeping things interesting and adding to the challenge of the course. The shorter front nine (one par 5, two par-3s) begins innocently enough with a short, straight, 316-yard par-4 (index=9) that is as far from the prevailing winds and water as possible at Narin & Portnoo. After the first hole, the course proceeds to hug the right perimeter boundary of the course, with prevailing winds threatening to push shots out-of-bounds on holes 2 through 8. Drives on holes 8 and 9 must fly directly toward greens backed up against the sea. The drive at the 399-yard, par-4 9th is doubly daunting: it must first cross over the approach to the 8th green on its into-the-wind flight straight for the green tucked into the far corner of the peninsula.

Hole #14 - 'Sweeney's Bank'

A ROLLING, ELEVATED GREEN IS REACHED AFTER NEGOTIATING
A NARROW, BUMPY FAIRWAY.

 NARIN & PORTNOO GOLF CLUB'S 14th HOLE 'SWEENEY'S BANK', PAR 5, 536 YDS, #10 HANDICAP

          The longer back nine (3,653 yards, with four par-5s, and two par-3s) dares golfers to drive out over the beach or across rugged rough to play against the prevailing winds affecting holes 10, 11, 15, and 16. The back nine has a paper clip’s internal loop of holes 12 though 14 where the fairways are protected somewhat from the wind, but here the tight, bumpy fairways and frightful rough ensure that the course’s challenge is not diminished. Narin & Portnoo ends the way it began, with a friendly (index=14) 399-yard par-4, largely sheltered from the wind as it makes its way back to the clubhouse and a friendly pint.

Hole #16 - 'High Altar'

THE VIEW FROM THE TEE TO THE GREEN. BEST PLAYED WHEN
WINDS ARE CALM — WHICH IS TO SAY "PROBABLY NOT TODAY".

 NARIN & PORTNOO GOLF CLUB'S 16th HOLE 'HIGH ALTAR', PAR 3, 120 YDS, #18 HANDICAP

          The 18th hole offers a chance for redemption at the end of a challenging round, and redemption, of course, brings golfers back for another round. With the promise of redemption at the 18th hole and potential resurrection at the 19th hole, Narin & Portnoo Golf Club offers all the redeeming features of classic links golf in one unassuming, cordial, delightfully natural package. Expect all on-course curses and shouts of glee to be muffled here by the roar of the wind and sea, a soft blanket of mist, and the friendly welcome of gentlemen sportsmen. Anyway, such a grand natural church is no place for curses and shouts of glee.

Hole #17 - 'The Dorleens'

FROM THE TEE TO THE GREEN THE WAY SEEMS ANYTHING BUT FAIR.
IN CLASSIC LINKS GOLF THE BIGGEST HAZARD CAN BE ONE'S FAIRWAY LIE.

 NARIN & PORTNOO GOLF CLUB'S 17th HOLE 'THE DORLEENS', PAR 4, 412 YDS, #6 HANDICAP


 

T

HE REGION: Ireland’s most

dramatic scenery is found along the ragged edges of the island, and, arguably, is never finer than

along the complicated coast of Donegal. This northwestern corner of Ireland records the assault of the Atlantic Ocean on mountainous headlands and peninsulas: the first land encountered since Iceland. Such are the stormy clashes in this corner that almost all sizeable, permanent

Narin and Portnoo villages with their broad, white sand beach. N&PGC Photo.
Narin and Portnoo villages with
their broad, white sand beach.

habitations are found inland, protected

 

among the folds of the mountains. The villages of Glenties and Ardara are the closest non-seasonal communities to Narin & Portnoo Golf Club, at six miles

 

Portnoo Golf Club, at six miles distance each. Two

Kilclooney Dolmen, one of many prehistoric monuments and architectural sites in the Narin and Portnoo region of County Donegal. N&PGC Photo.
Kilclooney Dolmen, one of
many prehistoric monuments
and architectural sites in
the Narin and Portnoo
region of County Donegal.

coastal resort villages, Portnoo and Rosbeg, are closer, but thrive only during the few months when sunnier, warmer weather hints at Irish summer.
          This part of Ireland has many things in common with Highland Scotland, including great natural beauty, and a vital traditional of woolen clothing production. Ardara, especially, is known for its hand-woven tweeds. Where civilization is most tenuous, traditional arts and crafts become the heart of the economy. Expect to find artists and craftsmen showing and selling in villages throughout the region. Expect an extraordinary amount of traditional Irish music in the pubs, and excellent, fresh seafood in the local restaurants. You will hear Irish spoken throughout the area, a region of Ireland where ancient history, archeological ruins, and Celtic traditions and lore

 

are concentrated.


TRAVELING TO NORTHWESTERN IRELAND TO PLAY GOLF?
Let
HOME AT FIRST make your advance tee-times at Narin & Portnoo Golf Club and many other Irish golf courses as part of your pre-reserved Irish trip itinerary. HOME AT FIRST offers independent, flexible, fly/drive travel to Ireland and other great golfing destinations in the British Isles. There’s no extra charge for this service.

MORE RESOURCES:
     Golf in Ireland
    
Home At First's
IRELAND travel program.

Want to learn about other courses throughout the British Isles
including some of the greatest tests of golf in the world? See our
IRELAND, SCOTLAND, ENGLAND, and WALES
Course Guides for more information.

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