The Revamped and Rebranded Portmarnock Resort & Jameson Golf Links. We loved it!

After our 90 minutes drive out to the wonderful Glasson Lakehouse, we returned to Dublin’s fair city and our next stay-and-play destination of Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links, recently rebranded as the Portmarnock Resort and Jameson Golf Links. The first thing we noticed was that the temperature had dropped significantly since the previous day at Glasson. It had been 26C there and here it was only 16C, with a fresh breeze.

Location and History

The Jameson Golf Links were originally designed by Bernhard Langer and opened in 1995. The course has hosted several high-profile events, including the Ladies European Tour and the Irish PGA Championship.

They are located just 15 minutes from Dublin Airport, the Portmarnock Resort & Jameson Golf Links offer a relaxing retreat away from the City Centre hustle and bustle. Sitting on a peninsula which juts out into the Irish Sea, the Links have recently been renovated in a project that only took four months. Work took place on eight holes, specifically 8 through 16, with the only exception being the 11th.

We arrived at the pro shop in plenty of time for our tee time. In the shop, we were greeted by the Golf Director Paul McCanny and Fintan Brennan, the Course Superintendent. They gave us a brief overview of the changes to the course and were looking forward to our thoughts on the course. No pressure then, here we go.

First Tee Nerves

Standing on the first tee, we were suddenly a little nervous. We got that feeling in the pit of our stomach that this would be challenging, and we wondered if our game would be up to it. We chose to play from the white tees at 6670 yards. The scorecard distances are in metres so remember to add 10% to your distances if you work in yards, like we do! There are four sets of tees ranging from 5500 yards to over 7100 yards. All the yardages have a par of 71.

Off We Go

The First Hole

The opening hole is a 370-yard par 4. There is a ditch that runs diagonally across the fairways so we chose a 3 wood to hit our opening shot. As you can see the course was playing firm and fast and our tee shot finished just short of the ditch on the right side. It went about 30 yards further than we had anticipated and left us with a gap wedge to the green. Two putts and we opened with a safe par.

The Third Hole

We bogeyed the second hole after catching a fairway bunker off the tee, so we hoped the par 3 third, would offer some respite. Playing 190 yards, the green is protected by five bunkers. We went with a 5 iron and ended up in the front right bunker. A decent shot out and a missed 6 footer meant we were back on that familiar bogey train again.

The Seventh Hole

Our bogey train continued for the next 3 holes and we stood on the 7th hole, four over par. Not great, The driver off the tee was causing us problems so we went with a 3 wood on this 450-yard par 4. We found the fairway and then hit a 3 hybrid onto the green. Hurrah!. Two putts and we had our third par of the round.

The Start of the Renovated Holes

The Eighth Hole

The 8th was the first of the renovated holes. At 363 yards, it plays left to right and the breeze is into and out of the left. We hit 3 wood again off the tee and slightly skied it. Our tee shot avoided the fairway bunker but it left us a 7 iron to the green and we made a par. As you can see from the photo above, there is a slight change in design to the shape of the bunkers. They are much more visually intimidating, hopefully, we wouldn’t put them to the test. It was obvious that these were new holes. While the turf had knitted together, you could still see the joints both on the fairway and the greens. In saying that, the greens putted really well.

The Ninth Green

The ninth is a stunning par 3. Playing 149 yards, it was straight into the breeze. We hit 7 iron and came up short and thankfully left of the bunkers. It was only when we got to our ball that we could really appreciate the drama of the green. The green is wide with plateaus on both sides and a deep bowl in the middle. The hole was cut on the left side of the bowl at the bottom of a slope. We couldn’t get our chip with 10 feet of the hole and finished the front nine, 5 over par.

The Back Nine

The Eleventh Hole

After bogeying the 10th hole as well, we feared the worst for our back nine. Standing on the 11th, with the breeze blowing left to right across us, the tee shot had our attention. At 150 yards, our only thought was not missing it right where a deep bunker waited. We went with an 8 iron and aimed it between the two bunkers on the left. The ball landed on the green on that line and then swept across the slope past the flag. It stopped 15 feet behind the flag but was only two feet from being off the green. It’s a really tricky hole with a short iron and a breeze.

Birdie Putt!

The 12th hole would provide us with our only birdie of the day and it was completely unexpected. At 550 yards, the hole snakes between the dunes and bunkers. Our driver off the tee finally found a fairway and we were faced with a shot of 265 yards to a green that sat at least 30 feet above us at the top of a severe slope. We chose to lay up with a 6-iron. The third shot was with a gap wedge and we could only see the top of the flag. When we got up there, the ball was sitting 8 inches from the hole. Easy birdie.

Par Golf

The Par 3, Seventeeth

That birdie must have sparked something in our game as we put together our best run of holes after it. Four consecutive pars had us on the 17th hole, level par for the back nine. What faced us was a 188-yard par 3, with a green that sat above us. As you can see, most of Ireland is right of the flag, which was perched just over the bunker on the left. As the wind was out the left, we hit 5 iron and absolutely flushed it, right at the flag. Our shot was that well hit that the wind didn’t affect it and our heart was in our mouth whether or not it was enough club. It was and we were left with a downhill right to left putt from eight feet for birdie. We lipped out…

The Approach to the Last

The final hole on the links is tricky. At just over 400 yards, from the tee you can’t see much of the fairway. It plays from left to right and there are numerous bunkers to catch anything but a perfect fade. Your approach shot also needs to be good as you are hitting from an undulating fairway. The bunkers just short, and the embankments both left and long are all in play. Our 7 iron found the front right of the green and we finished with a par and a level par back nine. It’s just a pity about our erratic front nine!.

Summary of the Links

Playing golf at the Jameson Links is a wonderful experience for golfers. The course has a traditional links layout, with tight fairways, deep pot bunkers, and undulating greens. Bernhard Langer’s course design, enhanced by the recent renovations of five green complexes and the introduction of four new tees, ensures that golfers face a challenge on each hole, and no two holes are the same.

The new green complexes and tees are all in play now but will take time to lose that new turf aesthetic and blend in. Some of the complexes are spectacular and offer multiple difficult pin positions. Huge congratulations to all those involved in creating something special in just four months. The new routing and topography changes give stunning views of The Velvet Strand, Lambay and Ireland’s Eye, which creates new memories even for those who have played here before.

The Hotel

Our Room with a View

The hotel has been voted the second best golf hotel in Ireland. The entrance and reception area are majestic. Bright and airy with marble flooring and comfortable seating. The bedrooms are generous and ours had a dual aspect. Our article header photo shows our view out over the course whilst we also had a view over the first tee and out over the Irish Sea. The hotel facilities are excellent and we had our evening meal in the famous Jameson’s Bar.

Fish and Chips

The food in the bar was delicious and well presented. We had the fish and chips and the cajun chicken burger and we scoffed the lot. Maybe us golfers are easier to please after a hard round on the links? The food definitely hit the spot, along with a pint of the local IPA. There are multiple dining and drinking options at the hotel, as well as a beautiful Spa. We just didn’t have the time to visit them all on this visit. Maybe next time?

Thank You

Thank you to Aoife Horgan, the hotel’s Marketing Executive for arranging our visit to the Portmarnock Resort & Jameson Golf Links. More thanks are due also to Golf Director Paul and Course Superintendent Fintan for the welcome and telling us about the changes to the course. We are sorry that we didn’t meet up after our round but we hope that you get the feeling from this article that we really enjoyed playing and staying at your wonderful facility.

At a Glance
  • Recently Revamped 18 hole Championship Links
  • Beautiful hotel in a stunning location
  • Large well equipped pro shop
  • Home of the famous Jameson’s Bar
  • 15 minutes from Dublin Airport
  • 30 minutes from Dublin City Centre

Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for

Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!

If you would like Jim to write about your venue, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732