In the Spotlight: The Strand Course at Portstewart Golf Club will host the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in July



The first tee on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club provides a great view. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor)
The biggest dunes surround no. 2 of the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The second green on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The third hole on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club drops off an elevated tee. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
A look back at the third green on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
A new back tee at no. 4 on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club will challenge players during the Irish Open. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
A look back from the fourth green on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The fifth hole of the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club follows the River Bann. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor)
Golfers need to shoot the gap in the dunes to reach the fifth green of the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The par-3 sixth hole on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The eighth tee on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
A look back at the second green of the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The 10th hole on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club swings right. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The dunes open to reveal the eighth green on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The 12th hole of the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club sits below the tee. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
A table-top green tests tee shots on the 15th green of the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
The approach to the 16th green on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )
Irish countryside looms beyond the 17th green on the Strand Course at the Portstewart Golf Club. (Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor )

PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland – The Strand course at the Portstewart Golf Club has finally earned a seat at the big boy table when it comes to links golf in Northern Ireland.

Portstewart's reputation has always lagged behind the country's two superstars - the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club and the Championship Links at Royal County Down Golf Club.

This summer, the Strand Course gets the spotlight it deserves. Hosting its first European Tour event, the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, will put the Strand’s dynamic dunes of the Causeway Coast on full display for golf fans watching around the world. New dates (July 6-9) directly leading into the Scottish Open and The Open Championship should help strengthen a field already featuring host Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, native major champions Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, and Irishmen Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington.

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A few new back tees and minor course tweaks to a few bunkers and greens, along with an Irish summer’s unpredictable weather and winds, will defend par on the 7,118-yard links. Although the club and course date to 1894, Portstewart didn’t really blossom until seven new holes were carved from some magnificent dunes in 1992. These holes – the second through the eighth – roam among some of the best links land in the world. The view of these monstrous sand dunes and beach from the elevated first tee ranks among the finest first impressions in golf.

Playing the final nine on flatter ground near the River Bann, the country’s longest river, can feel like a bit of a letdown. Architecturally speaking, however, these final holes still present a stern test. The clubhouse, larger than most links courses, is a comfortable place for a pint and a moment to cherish one of the Emerald Isle’s most under-appreciated links. (Read Jason Scott Deegan's review of Portstewart's Strand Course)

May 11, 2017

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.


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