Portmarnock is a small coastal town right outside Dublin in the southeast of Ireland. It is home to the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links, a seaside resort that includes a spa, a 4 star hotel which is my home for the week, and an 18 hole Championship Links Course designed by Bernhard Langer.
View out of my hotel room window at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links
Ocean view from the golf course...
With the U.S. Open being this week at Chambers Bay, you can imagine my surprise at walking onto a course that looked very similar to the pictures and videos I've seen this week from the Washington state course, with primarily fescue grasses (along with some bent grass and annual meadow grasses).
Fairway on the Portmarnock Golf Links course
While Chambers Bay is not a true links course, it tries to deliver the feel of one, like the Portmarnock Golf Links has achieved. The rolling fairways, deep bunkers, and almost indiscernible greens make this a unique challenge for golfers who come from all over the world to play this seaside course.
Fintan Brennan is the head groundsman here, and he has really become an expert in what it takes to prepare this course for play day-in and day-out. He has also used some new products to help maintain the course, including using the Recycling Dresser on one of his struggling fairways with great success.
Fintan Brennan and me
One product is of his own invention. The Greenstester is a hole-out tester much like the Stimpmeter. However, he has put in a curved pathway for the ball to roll on and into the cup, instead of the straight one that the Stimp provides. This allows the ball to get a true roll off the tester and onto the green, unlike the Stimp, where the ball bounces and doesn't provide a totally accurate reading. The Greenstester can really help a course manager pinpoint which individual greens need help and how. It is a really simple, very affordable device that can make a difference on any putting surface. More information, including a video, about this new product can be found at www.greenstester.com.
Another product Fintan has found useful is a new type of hybrid turf mat (below) that allows natural turf, such as ryegrass, to grow through it. He has used this for some of his walking paths to provide added strength and durability.