The European Club

This course is owned and operated by Pat Ruddy and his family and, as one of the premier modern architects in Ireland, Pat has created here his personal testimony to golf course architecture.  If you know anything of the man, Pat is a bit obsessed with the a traditional spartan approach to course presentation-no yardage markers on the course,  a yardage book without  user friendly features, and actually twenty holes to play.  When I asked his son who runs the golf shop about the “twenty holes” he simply said, the rest of the world will catch on eventually.  He even provides a cursing stone next to the 10th fairway.  In Katharine Dyson’s review of this course she explains that legend has it you can put a curse on a person or thing if you revolve the seven small stones on the top of the rock in a counter-clockwise direction.  I am guessing an inordinate amount of these have been heaped upon our host.

The yardage book reveals Ruddy’s respect for links golf design.  As he says, “The links have been designed to perpetuate and modernize the traditional values of links golf.  The combination of rugged dunes, deep bunkers, sea breezes, and large undulating greens calls on the golf to display strength of character, an ability to think, and shotmaking skills.”  The design makes generous use of “calculated deception aimed at inducing white knuckles on the club” in an effort to play with the golfer’s mind and impinge his effort to swing out and hit precise shots.

This is a knock your socks off track-very difficult-not for the faint of heart.  Breathtaking vistas, cleverly placed bunkers, huge rolling greens, and the links type serpentine tracking along the coast built on true links land.  Straight driving off the tee is essential to handle quite a bit of optical illusion created by the tall dunes and long corridor fairways.  Proper fairway positioning is crucial to get the most advantageous angle and some very difficult green complexes.

Since over ten of the holes are in breeze shot of the Irish Sea the wind influence is significant.  This leads to a couple of weather changes a round so be prepared for lots of dressing and undressing of your fair weather gear.  The good news is that like most links courses there is open access to most of the greens.   When the wind is up, and that is most of the time, the bump and run becomes a very effective method to getting your approaches close to the flag.

Sometime in the early 2000’s Pat must have intercepted a freight ship full of pressure treated railroad ties because the bunkers have more vertical sleepers than any Pete Dye course I have ever seen.  I think Pat has fire extinguishers placed throughout the course in case a contagious sleeper fire should break out and threaten to burn down the course.  This look of the vertical sleepers makes deep bunkers even more intimidating by articulating the potential pitfalls to the player from a long way out.

My favorite Pat Ruddy touch is on the scorecard where at the bottom next to the total score he has a huge oversized box which is simply labeled “What My Score Should Have Been”.  It is clearly his testimony to the delusional nature of all golfers who love to tell big fish stories over a Guinness after the round.

Wicklow, Ireland

Architect: Pat Ruddy

Tees                         Par            Yardage          Rating

White                        71              6690                 72

(Click to see complete European Club hole-by-hole descriptions)

(Check out the Renton Laws travel video on The European Club from The Gallery section)

(Read a wonderful article about Pat Ruddy the owner/architect of this fine links)

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