Portmarnock Golf Club

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Aerial View of Portmarnock Golf Club and peninsula
Portmarnock Golf Club
Club information
Established 1894
Type Private
Total holes 27
Website portmarnockgolfclub.ie
Championship Course
Designed by William Pickeman
Par 72
Length 7,463 yards (6,824 m)
Course record 64, Thomas Bjørn
Portmarnock Golf Club is located in Ireland
Portmarnock Golf Club
Golf Club
Location in Ireland

Portmarnock Golf Club is a links golf club in the Republic of Ireland, located 15 minutes from Dublin Airport.

Portmarnock 15th hole at Portmarnock Golf Club

On Christmas Eve 1893, an insurance broker named W.C.Pickeman and his friend George Ross rowed over from Sutton to Portmarnock peninsula to explore the possibility of creating a golf links. The peninsula is about two miles long and covers over 500 acres. The course opened on St. Stephen’s day 1894 with nine holes. It was extended to eighteen holes in 1896 with a new clubhouse and a further nine holes were added in 1971. The championship course follows the original layout although considerably lengthened (over 7,500 yards of the Championship tees). The only major change in the routing was the insertion in 1927 of a new now famous par three, the 15th hole.

Portmarnock was the venue for the first Irish Open in 1927, and has hosted the tournament on many occasions since, including 13 following its revival in 1975.[1] Many other important golf tournaments have been held at the club, including the British Amateur Championship in 1949, the Walker Cup in 1991, and the Canada Cup in 1960.

Over the course of 121 years Portmarnock Golf Club has welcomed some of the greatest players in the world from early greats such as Harry Vardon, Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke to the first super star of golf Arnold Palmer. In recent years Pádraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Paul McGinley and Tiger Woods have all walked the pristine links fairways.

The links green rates and online tee times are available online.[2] It is regularly famed as one of the world's greatest links golf clubs. In 2014/15 it was voted as the best golf links in Ireland through Golf Digest magazine.[3]

Some notable quotations from Professional Golfers

  • Pádraig Harrington - “Portmarnock is the fairest links I have ever played, which is unusual because links golf by its very nature can be unfair. It is almost perfectly balanced in that it is both challenging and demanding for every level of golfer.....as stern an exam as a professional could wish for from the back tees, and an equally strict test for the more modest player off the medal tees. ”
  • Tiger Woods - “One of the most enjoyable links courses I have had an opportunity to play”
  • Tom Watson - “There are no tricks or nasty surprises, only an honest, albeit searching test of shot making skills.”
  • Seve Ballesteros - “I always enjoy my time in Ireland but in particular playing links golf at fantastic links courses like Portmarnock”
  • Arnold Palmer - “Sam Sneed and I played in the Canada Cup at Portmarnock in 1961 and I recall saying to Sam on the way home that every aspect of our games was examined that week”
  • Phil Mickelson - “I had the opportunity and play in the 1991 Walker Cup at Portmarnock Golf Club and it was one of the great highlights of my Amateur days not only to represent the USA but also to enjoy the challenge of such a magnificent links course”
  • Rory McIlroy - “I always love playing Portmarnock Golf Club; one of the world’s greatest links courses in my view”

Discrimination claims[edit]

The club has been at the centre of controversy, by continuing to bar women from becoming members. In 2003 the Equality Authority of Ireland brought a successful discrimination case in the Dublin District Court under which the club's drinks licence was suspended for 7 days.[4] The finding was overturned in the High Court in 2005,[5] and again in the Supreme Court in 2009,[6] allowing the club to keep its men-only policy.

In 2005, the High Courts decision in the Equal Authority v. Portmarnock Golf Club & Ors case set back any potential progress in the fight for gender equality. While the authority argued such discrimination could not be protected by Section 9 of the ESA because the club providing a space for golf is not necessarily a “need” of men, the Supreme Court believed it was fair to hold Portmarnock Golf Club as a nondiscriminatory club under the Equal Status Act, ruling the fundamental purpose of the club was golf.[7]

Portmarnock Golf Club’s men-only policy is legally enforceable due to its exemption under equal status legislation. The reason for this discrimination against women is because the club has claimed their main purpose is to accommodate the needs of only one gender. Section 9 of the Equal Status Act states that clubs whose main purpose is to serve the needs of only one gender may be considered nondiscriminatory.[8] However, Section 8 of the ESA holds that a club will be considered discriminatory if there is anything, such as a rule or practice that exempts a qualified member or an applicant for membership from being a member of the club. In addition, Section 8 claims a club is considered to be discriminatory if there are different terms and conditions of membership for different individuals.[9] Because Section 8 prohibits gender discrimination, Portmarnock was technically a discriminating club under Section 8 of the ESA.[10]

Women are only able to play at the north Dublin course, but are not granted the ability to become a full member.[11] Pormarnock Golf Club is one of only two top golf clubs in Ireland that still prohibits women from becoming members.[12] Not only have women been banned from becoming full members of the club, but claims have been made stating women’s tee times have been limited, and equal voting rights have not been granted. Women are excluded from memberships while being limited to the utilization of the courses and the courses clubhouse.

Aerial view of 14th, 15th and 16th holes at Portmarnock Golf Club, Ireland
Portmarnock Golf Club 7th hole



  1. ^ "Nissan Irish Open - Past Winners". europeantour.com. Retrieved 2008-10-21. [dead link]
  2. ^ http://www.portmarnockgolfclub.ie/visitors/visitor-information
  3. ^ http://www.golfdigesttop100.ie/top-100-2015/top10
  4. ^ "Portmarnock golf club breaches equality laws". RTÉ News. February 20, 2004. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  5. ^ "Equality Authority may appeal golf club ruling". RTÉ News. June 10, 2005. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  6. ^ "Supreme Court upholds golf club ban". RTÉ News. 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  7. ^ "The Supreme Court, Equality, Golfing and 'Need' – Human Rights in Ireland". humanrights.ie. Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  8. ^ "Portmarnock Golf club wins discrimination case". Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  9. ^ "Portmarnock Golf club wins discrimination case". Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  10. ^ "No Women (and Dogs) Allowed: A Comparative Analysis of Discriminating Private Golf Clubs in the United States, Ireland, and England". Washington University Global Studies Law Review. 6. 
  11. ^ "Supreme Court upholds golf club ban". Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  12. ^ "No Women (and Dogs) Allowed: A Comparative Analysis of Discriminating Private Golf Clubs in the United States, Ireland, and England". Washington University Global Studies Law Review. 6. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°24′25″N 6°07′26″W / 53.407°N 6.124°W / 53.407; -6.124