The par-3 14th at Royal Portrush.
LC Lambrecht
Friday, August 19, 2011

1. Sacrifice distance for accuracy
Portrush is no pushover, but it won't beat you down in the manner of some its burlier counterparts (Royal County Down, for example). It plays a manageable 6,845 from the tips, has generous landing zones and with the exception of a gigantic sand pit on the 17th fairway known as "Big Nellie" there are few bunkers that require you to pack repelling gear. Keep it in the fairway and be smart with your approach shots and good scores will follow.

2. Aim short of the greens
There's a reason the distances in the Portrush yardage book are measured to the front of the greens (and not the center): That's where you should be aiming. In fact, on some holes you'll want to land your approaches short of the green and let them bound off the fairway and up to the hole. That's links golf: firm fairways and big greens that allow you to chase the ball up the throat. Firing at flagsticks? Forget about it.

3. Stay out of the wind
If the wind's whipping, keep it low. High-flying shots will get blown around like Ping-Pong balls on a one-way trip to Gorseville. To hit a low, boring shot beneath the wind, move the ball back in your stance, take an extra club or two and abbreviate your follow-through.

4. Take the low road
Leave your lob wedge at home. If you have an unobstructed path to the hole, take your your 7- or 8-iron, slide the ball back in your stance and and play a low, running chip. Better still, putt it, even from 30 yards.

5. Drop into the valley
Spend an extra day and play Portrush's little-known sister course, the Valley Links. An exceptional under card, the 6,304-yard Valley course is set in a bowl beneath the Dunluce (some holes are actually below sea level) and was laid out by H.S. Colt around the time Colt tweaked Portrush in 1947. It's one of Northern Ireland's best-kept secrets.

You May Like