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Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC New
« on: July 05, 2014, 08:42:08 AM »
Had the opportunity to play for a few days in the north of Donegal.  To be frank, I wasn't expecting such wonderous scenery.  The Derryveagh Mountains isolate the endless strands and inlets which populate what is often a stunning coast.  I can imagine there being a hundred courses along this stretch of coastline, but I reckon the relatively small number which do exist is plenty.  Why?  We were there in the height of summer enjoying stunning weather yet the courses were nowhere near full.  I was at least expecting Rosapenna to be busy, but it felt more like a hulking great mausoleum, albeit quite a comfortable mausoleum...for the living. 

After landing in Belfast and making the unpromising 2.5 hour journey to Narin & Portnoo, we played as planned in what were initially cloudy and fairly breezy conditions. The opening hole is short, but very tight.  A burn crosses the fairway around the 240 yard mark and OOB (the ubiquitous caravans!) is hard right.  While a bit visually messy, I liked the hole and thought the green was good.


After a dull par 5, the third is a fairly dull par 3 and I wondered why this feature wasn't better utilized.


After the 4th I was beginning to wonder what I was doing in this part of the world, but from this point onwards, the terrain greatly improves and there are several excellent holes.  Rather than going into great detail, I will offer a flavour of the course.  The excellent 5th climbs to a dell green surrounded by dunes. 


The next hole was hard to fathom because I mistakingly took a white post staked out to the right as OOB.  The hole turns unkowingly hard left over a large, hairy dip then climbs to a pulpit green.  #7 is a knob to knob short hole and one I enjoyed.


The next hole is great fun and one of my two favourites at N&P.  Maybe 330 yards downhill playing straight to the strand.  The fairly small green seemingly dangles above the beach.  I didn't like the look of the fairway so played up the left.  I didn't appreciate this angle leaves a butt clenching blind approach from where I imagine many wind up short right.


We now climb back up the right flank of the dune just descended.  The fairway abruptly ends as if an extremely localized earthquake had struck. The land then tumbles to the green.


#10 is much the same sort of hole rambling over heaving ground.  The catch is there is a narrow gap for the brave to go for the green in two. 


The green too has much interest.


The terrain retards back to normalcy for a few holes, but the short 11th is a good hole.  The main problem with N&P is the flat holes.  For me, they hold no interest so let us fast forward to #14, the middle hole of a trio of three-shotters of which two are newish.  I don't like the idea of eating up so much terrain so quickly with banger holes, but so far as the concept goes,  E Connaughton's 14th and 15th (I think he also redesigned some greens) are good holes, if a bit too tight.
 
#14




#15


N&P finishes strongly with three good holes, including the short infernal 16th with its slip away green and my darling 17th.  A true elephant's graveyard of a hole with humps continuing just shy of a green which runs like a ramp to the rear.  Play is from right of the photo.


The 18th is more traditional over flatter ground, but no worse for it and the only flat hole at N&P for which I have any time. Despite the awful 4-5 flat holes, there is far too much fun to be had to be too down in the mouth.  After one play I am not convinced it is worth the protracted trip to reach N&P, but we must remember that golfers have to go where the courses are.  If one does decide to go this far to the northwest of Ireland, Cruit Island is a must play to make it all worth while.....  2014

Other Tour Stops

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59070.msg1388131.html#msg1388131  Cruit Island

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59189.msg1391553.html#msg1391553  Rosapenna OTM LInks

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59240.msg1392946.html#msg1392946  Rosapenna Sandy Hills

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59129.msg1390457.html#msg1390457  Portsalon


Ciao   
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 08:44:14 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2014, 08:52:47 AM »
as usual, just when I think nobody's got it better than me,
Sean turns up in my favorite part of the world to once again beg the question..
Who's got it better than Sean? ;)
Eagerly awaiting more, though Rosapena's no longer one of my faves
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Paul Gray

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2014, 09:47:57 AM »
Sean,

As ever, thanks for the excellent tour.

Can't remember who posted it but recently someone did suggest that a lottery win could in part be spent by funding you to go on a review tour. Pending tonight's draw, I'll happily fund you.
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2014, 10:58:20 AM »
N&P, very nice indeed.

Lots of fine holes. Certainly plenty of hump-bumpy ones that stand out but I quite liked the flatter ones too. That 8th hole though, cunning little rascal, from the tee it looks so much shorter than it really is. Go down the left on the basis that you can get close to the green or it gives you the best line into the green. Well you probably can't and it doesn't. But that left side line sure brings some potentially fun up-n-downs plus over the back onto the rocks into play as well.

Damn fine hole. Damn fine course. Seeing these photos brings back some nice memories of my visit and photos from a couple of months ago.

N&P maybe a little out of the way but it's very much worth visiting, and if combined with Cruit Island, makes for really a splendid day.

atb


Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 04:07:11 AM »
atb

What is it you like about the flat holes?

Thanks for the kind words Paul.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2014, 01:54:34 PM »
The flatter holes? Variety would be the first thing, a bit of flatness amongst so much hump and bump is nice.

As to the flatter holes themselves, the 2nd is probably the blandest hole on the course, but I was advised that the area to the right of the fairway, the red staked hazard area, is sometimes underwater, or at lest very damp and not playable out of, and the green kinda juts out into it. The green being shallow and wide was different too, plus the difficult to spot ditch over the back. The 3rd? My playing partners and I all found it's sheer flatness confusing (in a nice way). I go along with your comment about the possible use of the hollow short of the green but we all liked the hole. Difficult depth perception from the tee, the ditch very close to the right, the long hollow and bunker to the left, which after playing the hole 4 different ways for 3 par's and a bogey we all agreed was a 'friendly' bunker. The 4th, a good long par-4 with the ditch all along the right side and a tough to play green site. Playing this hole well requires some fine strikes (or some luck). The 12th, the way you had to, for a right hander, hit a fade off the tee to hold the ball against the right-to-left slope on the firm and bouncy fairway. Not usual these days to have to work a tee shot to hold a fairway, so a nice change. Nice green site too, lot's of contour. The 13th's okay and the 18th, bland off the tee maybe, but nice shot into the green, what with the severe right-to-left slope.

Amazing huge dunes and sand blow-out on the other side of the bay to the 7th/8th holes.

Very nice Narin and Portnoo. Happily go back.

Very much looking forward to seeing more of your Donegal tour.

atb

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC New
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2014, 06:25:43 PM »
atb

Okay, yes, I like a mix of design as well.  Its just that I didn't find the flat holes other than 18 as better than holes found on a rank muni in bumb suck Redditch  8)  Those holes really drag the quality of the design well down for me. Its almost as if a child designed those holes. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 08:45:46 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Robin_Hiseman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2014, 04:23:56 PM »
Harsh words there Sean! I'll have to look out my own N&P photos and put them up to see if folks agree with you. I'm not sure I've read such a harsh judgment from you before. They must have really got under your skin.
2022: Al Mouj; Cleeve Hill, Painswick, Minch Old, Weybrook Park, The Astbury, Silloth, Royal Balfron, Strathendrick, Archerfield (Fidra), Roxburghe, Stoneham, Woburn (Marquess), JCB, Pyrford, Hayling, Clandon, Wentworth (East), Ashbourne, East Sussex National (West)

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2014, 05:14:15 PM »
From another contemporary thread

Man, I was seriously golfed out by the time I hit Rosapenna!  In the space of two weeks (and this is a ton of golf for me - likely a half ton too much) and with some travel hassle involving two days up by 3:30am  :P

Burnham
North Berwick
Renaissance x3 (this is the place that wore me out)
Narin & Portnoo
Cruit Island - only walked
Portsalon
Rosapenna Old Tom
Rosapenna Sandy Links
Kington

Ciao


Sean, I think you were golfed out after 19 holes on day three!

Man, I think you missed out at N&P.

Firstly there is much to enjoy here some GREAT holes and a really nice routing. Although 9 is at the far end of the course its not at all your typical out and back, every succeeding hole twists the angle relative to the wind and there are 3 switchbacks.  I didn't know quite what to expect but I certainly got my money's worth. Normally this is the sort of course you would boost for it's VFM.  

The first is a scream, trouble everywhere and a raised green.  The second maybe flat but it has an elevated tee, a lovely sweep to it and an interestingly shaped green.  OK the third is a nothing hole but form then I was having a ball. Loved the shot into the 5th and the huge elevation on the 6th makes it a ball buster. 7 we agree.   8 What a total delight, it deserves to be much better known.  As does 9 which deserves to be known as Ballybunionesk.  (this is the third bunkerless hole in a row!) You state
10 is much the same sort of hole rambling over heaving ground.  Which given the general tone is damming by association with something that sounds average but is really extraordinary.


The hole I liked least was the 13th, if you are going to have 3 par fives in a row don't start with a so so one. Loved 14 and standing on the tee of 15 you can't help but be reminded of the 18th at Waterville.  Ok the routing gets a bit confused dropping in the 16th in but I'm happy with the finish on 17 (great terrain) and 18.


I knew something was up when you implied it had boring greens! I strongly disagree.  I believe most of the course today has been worked over by Eddie Conaughton who also did a similar service at Arklow.   These are no so extreme but provided plenty of interest and variety.  


So my first visit and I'd love another crack.   How good is it.  Well it's never going to get a place in the top 5 in Ireland but I would probably put it in my top 10.  (have yet to see Carne and Enniscrone).

Robin would love to see your photos.

PS Sean moaning to these guys about too much golf, an early start, a 50 minute flight and a 2.5 hour drive?  Jeez don't you ever read their posts!  To them you're livin' the life they can only dream of!  Keep this up and to my surprise I'll have to give you the nickname of The Grouch!
« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 05:22:21 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2014, 05:58:19 PM »
atb
Okay, yes, I like a mix of design as well.  Its just that I didn't find the flat holes other than 18 as better than holes found on a rank muni in bumb suck Redditch  8)  Those holes really drag the quality of the design well down for me. Its almsot as if a child designed those holes. 
Ciao

Do you mean Pitcheroak or Redditch GC?
atb

Marty Bonnar

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2014, 06:39:34 PM »
Point of order.
Given his initials are TD, I suspect atb means 'all the best', but I could be wrong.

F.
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2014, 06:53:12 PM »
Portnoo is one of my favorite courses in Donegal, along with Portsalon.  Though, it's possible I will have something more to say about that soon.

  I thought Sean did a pretty good job of identifying the best holes, though I didn't think he sung the praises of the good ones quite highly enough.  For me it has four of the best par-4's in Ireland -- 5th, 8th, 9th and 17th -- and that is enough to make it worth the trip, even if some of the other holes don't live up to the same standard.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2014, 07:10:01 PM »
Point of order.
Given his initials are TD, I suspect atb means 'all the best', but I could be wrong.

F.

FBD

TD has so many nom du plumes I can't keep up!  So its atb because thats the last thing I read of his posts  ;)

Spangles

I would go back to N&P, but I would reserve it as a recommendation for the special Jeff Warne types.  Its a loooooong way from nowhere not to get great golf.  As you know, Pennard is my bar for all these 2nd and below tier courses and if I can't call Pennard great N&P certainly doesn't qualify. In fact N&P is clearly inferior to Pennard.  I liked it though, but the flat holes are dire.  

"If you are going to have three par fives in a row" - stop right there.  Don't, and I mean ever, have three par 5s in a row.  Two is shocking, but once in a while just about okay, three is stupidity beyond belief.  

Tom

I think we already had this conversation.  I tend to look for ways the good holes overcome the bad holes - look at the course in total.  That works to some degree if there are only a few duds.  It becomes much harder if I think there are five duds.  You tend to look at the good holes and write off the bad holes.  My problem is I really enjoy good "relief holes" out of the dunes, but that large section of poor land completely kills that buzz and nothing was done architecturally to beef up the interest.  More is the pity because it wouldn't take much to drastically improve those holes. Its more troublesome when you think the spacing of the flat holes is pretty good in creating an interesting journey its just that they weren't finished. 


Ciao    
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2014, 08:21:39 PM »
Narin and Portnoo is magical, though I preferred it before the "renovation" took it deeper into the dunes adding yardage and excitement.
Nothing could top the simple proshop/bar single room which is now an uncharming full service modern clubhouse.
I guess i just don't even know what a bad hole is, as the entire place captivated me,non dunes holes and all, much like Portsalon (though NOTHING in golf has been more enchanting to me than Portsalon-probably the place as much as the course (and I LOVE Pennard and St. enodoc)

I'm glad Tom chimed in as I was beginning to question my own sanity-though I'm dropping in on Aberdovey next week-dormy house and all- to try to recapture a bit of enchantment-as well as Pennard
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2014, 01:32:13 PM »
Would N&P now be pretty much the last hidden away remote Irish links gem? If not, where else would fit the bill and be worth playing?
All the best

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2014, 01:57:40 PM »
Would N&P now be pretty much the last hidden away remote Irish links gem? If not, where else would fit the bill and be worth playing?
All the best

All of Donegal
n&p
portsalon
ballyliffin x 2
northwest
dunfanaghy
Cruit
Rosapena x2
+ a couple more wee gems

« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 06:54:00 PM by jeffwarne »
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2014, 03:09:02 PM »
N&P - done
Portsalon - done
Ballyliffin x 2 - done
Northwest - tbd
Dunfanaghy - done
Cruit - done
rosacea - presume you mean Rosapenna (x2) - done
atb

PS - enjoy Aberdovey. It was in very fine fettle when I was there recently. Try to fit in 18-holes at Welshpool as well - a Mr Braid hilltop special - nice and quirky and mowed by hungry sheep! :)





jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2014, 06:55:18 PM »
N&P - done
Portsalon - done
Ballyliffin x 2 - done
Northwest - tbd
Dunfanaghy - done
Cruit - done
rosacea - presume you mean Rosapenna (x2) - done
atb

PS - enjoy Aberdovey. It was in very fine fettle when I was there recently. Try to fit in 18-holes at Welshpool as well - a Mr Braid hilltop special - nice and quirky and mowed by hungry sheep! :)






Rosacea-a REAL hidden gem
the joys of auto correct
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC New
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2014, 02:38:55 AM »
Rosacea-a REAL hidden gem
the joys of auto correct

Jeff - You are hereby let you off the hook for without your (and Donal's) posts I'd not have been to delightful Dunfanaghy. :)

Later edit - here is a link to a 2012 photo tour by Mark Ferguson plus additional photos added to it by me in early 2014 - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,54377.0.html

atb
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 09:35:28 AM by Thomas Dai »

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Drifting In Donegal: NARIN & PORTNOO GC
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2014, 05:56:58 PM »
A few more pictures that show
a how lucky we were with the weather
b what a special place it is and should be better known.

What a setting








10th fairway



A view to wards the biggest blowout I've seen



10th in foreground 11 behind



11th green





Looking down 15


Before hitting I turned to gaze out to sea.  A magic place had one more surprise,
5 seals enjoying their Friday night passeggiata along the Strand.




17th fairway
« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 05:59:36 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

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