The Valley Links, as the name suggests, lies between the East Strand and the higher ground of Dunluce Links, and is the traditional home course of Royal Portrush Ladies Branch, and Rathmore Golf Club whose members live in the Portrush area. It is an outstanding links originally designed by the famed Harry Colt, and which has also undergone major changes under architect Martin Ebert’s supervision.
Valley Links unfurls in the bottom of a bowl of dunes. Its more mundane holes march parallel to one another – in opposite directions – with a few notable and interesting exceptions along the way (specifically nos. 5, 7, 8). It’s the new heroic shots coming that sends players home feeling satisfied. The new 171-yard 15th hole plays off an elevated tee into a heavy breeze. The 16th hole, the old no. 17, stretched from a par 4 into a 493-yard, dogleg par 5. Another new par 3, the 194-yarder at no. 17, incorporated a green from the Skerries pitch-and-putt course that just happened to be one of the original greens dating to the club’s earliest days. The finale is 333 yards of downwind fun. The elevated tee, overlooking the Irish Sea, feels like a launching pad with the gale at your back. Driving the green isn’t just a possibility. It should be the expectation.
Even though this course tends to be overshadowed by The Dunluce Links, the Valley has been critically acclaimed by visitors and golf writers from across the world. They hold the belief that no visit to Royal Portrush is complete without playing the Valley Links as well.