Golf Course Architecture - Issue 75, January 2024

I am not generally a fan of rebranding exercises. I do recognise why companies engage in them, but in my experience, any benefits are usually outweighed by the costs, and the fact that a large proportion of your audience will continue to use the existing brand for a long time anyway. How many people actually use the name Meta, the rebranded name of Facebook’s holding company? Even if you judge a brand name to be less than ideal, the value it has accrued through years of use should not be underestimated. An exception to this rule is the newly named Jameson Golf Links at the Portmarnock Resort, north of Dublin. And the reason this is an exception is simple: the new brand is not some meaningless word created by a highly paid consultant, but a real connection to the resort’s past life. It has, to use a term that, unlike rebranding, I do like, authenticity. The resort was previously the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links, a hotel and attached golf course created in the middle 1990s by American superagent Mark McCormack and various others. The golf course was built by American architect Stan Eby, then working for the newly created European Golf Design. In the manner of the day, a top touring pro, in this case Bernhard Langer, accepted a substantial cheque to be named as the ‘signature’ designer of the course. It lies right next to the storied Portmarnock Golf Club, a live candidate for the title of Ireland’s best course, and throughout its life, the two have always been confused. But the property had a life before it was a hotel and golf course. In the nineteenth century, it was the home of the Jameson family, creators of one of Ireland’s best known drinks brands. The building that was converted and extended to become the hotel was originally known as Jameson House, home of the family. And in the 1850s, John Jameson III, grandson of the distillery’s founder (who came originally from Scotland), had a nine hole course built in the sand dunes to the south of the house, at a time when there was essentially no golf in Ireland (Royal Curragh, the country’s first golf club, was founded in 1858). Later, in the 1880s, the Jameson family was involved in the founding of Portmarnock GC. So the property has a reasonable claim to be referred to as the home of golf in Ireland. During its life, the hotel has had several different owners, including a spell in the care of the National Asset Management Agency, the government body created to deal with the fallout from the crash of 2008. In 2019, it was bought by the Gagliardi family, hoteliers based in Vancouver, Canada, and since then, a substantial renovation of the golf course has been carried out by Irish architect Jeff Lynch of (re)GOLF. Lynch is an architect who has been around for some time, but whose career has not, because of the difficulties times the Irish golf industry has been through since 2008, yet taken off in the way some of his admirers might 56 Image: (re)GOLF JAMESON GOLF LINKS