The Montgomerie Course
Golf World awarded the Montgomerie Course the accolade of "Best New Design" for 2004. While you are waiting for your partners to extricate themselves from the many bunkers, take a look around - it is easy to see why.
The land must have been flat and uninteresting, but the seven-time winner of the European Order of Merit has created a golf course like no other. Bunkers everywhere demand strategic planning and shot execution of the highest quality. Nearly every long hole has a tee that is slightly angular to the fairway and requires a line to be picked across a line of bunkers. Too brave means sandy lies, too conservative means long approach.
An the bunkers don't stop there. The greens are large, undulating, slightly elevated and yes, surrounded by bunkers. A Swedish lady told us she had no problem on the Montgomerie course - she just used her 'hand wedge'!
Chris Smith of Wales won the Irish Amateur Championship here in 2004 with a four round score of 289 (+1). His round of 68 on Saturday was the only sub-70 round. We await with interest how the European professionals manage, meanwhile if the starter tells you to play from the green markers he is worth listening to!
The O'Meara Course
The O'Meara course is the older of the two courses by exactly one year. This is a true parkland course with many ancient specimen trees, the River Rye and several risk/reward holes to challenge your game.
Probably more playable for the average golfer, the O'Meara is nonetheless a superb golf course. It weaves its way beautifully over the rolling terrain amongst the huge trees. There are nearly as many bunkers as on the Montgomerie, though generally shallower and more amenable to playing to the pin. The bent grass greens are immaculate and well contoured.
The fetaure of the O'Meara course is the run from 14 to 16, two par-3s sandwiching a majestic par-5. The 14th is 185 yards and requires the tee-shot to be played over a bend in the river. The 15th is 587 yards and features the river all along the left hand side before an approach across the river to the green. Two mighty hits are required to make this simple. The par-3 16th goes back across the river and is as picturesque and tough a hole as you'll find.