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Founded: 1891
Designer: Mother Nature, Pat Ruddy (redesign 2001)
Championship Length: 5,880 yards
PAR: 69
Type: Links
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Who this course is best for:

A golfer who would like to get a off the beaten path, enjoys links golf, and would enjoy playing a shorter course.


Portsalon Golf Club is set on one of the most northern parts of Donegal, on the shores of Ballymastocker Bay, alongside a beach recently voted the “second most beautiful beach in the world.” Like Rosapenna and Narin & Portnoo, Portsalon is not an internationally renowned golf course. What Portsalon is, however, is a seriously good golf links with roots in the 19th century, located in some of the most beautiful terrain imaginable and offering stunning views.

This is what Irish golf is all about. Portsalon represents a throwback to what the great courses such as Ballybunion and Lahinch were like before they became recognized the world over, and before demand for tee times grew beyond their wildest dreams. Measuring just under 6,000 yards, its par 69 course simply exudes character and charm, does not suffer from any pretensions of greatness and offers all visitors a warm welcome and the opportunity (lest we forget) to play a marvelous links.

Though Ireland has many great hidden golfing gems, Portsalon can legitimately lay claim to being Ireland’s best kept golfing secret. With heather-clad mountains plunging into the deep blue waters of the bay, Portsalon has few peers with regard to scenic splendor. The opening hole is an uphill dogleg around a cliff and is followed by a par 3 of some 196 yards over water to a green that juts into the bay. The 3rd hole, unchanged since 1891, is a downhill par 4 played across and along the beach to a green guarded by two ancient rock formations. It is an exhilarating start, and so it continues at Portsalon, with fairways and greens threading through sand dunes untouched by the course of time.

Redesign work was commenced at Portsalon, undertaken by Pat Ruddy of European Club fame. Completed in early 2003, Portsalon now offers a par 72 challenge measuring over 7,000 yards and will be on its way towards gaining the international recognition that it so richly deserves.

Course review content courtesy of Golf Publisher Syndications

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