The next step in Mount Juliet’s evolution has arrived, writes Kevin Markham.
Mount Juliet has always been amongst the elite of Irish golf courses.
A handful vies for the accolade of the country’s best parkland and Mount Juliet always features in that discussion. Under the watchful eye of new owners (Tetrarch) there has been significant investment in the past three years. The sum of €10 million was earmarked to deliver an expansion and an upgrade.
To date, over €4.5 million has been pumped into golf course machinery, buggies, the new clubhouse and the course itself.
The velvet fairways and sleek greens have benefitted hugely, which is little surprise when you consider that the previous greenkeeping machinery was, on average, 15 years old. Tetrarch has changed all that and the opening of the Paul McGinley Golf Academy last week marks yet another new chapter in this five-star estate’s evolution.
“The new owners approached me and said ‘we’ve seen what your academy has done in Quinta do Lago, and we want to do something similar here,” McGinley explained at the launch. “They wanted to raise the golf element to a higher standard and that was the catalyst.
“One of the things that I think is missing in golf is that it is all very generic,” McGinley continues. “You have to grip it this way, you have to swing it this way. What I believe in is that you have to establish what everybody’s DNA is. Understand that it doesn’t have to look pretty but if you can feel it, you can do it. You can find a way of making your idiosyncratic swing work if you understand it. It’s doing what comes naturally in order for you to be in control of your game.”
This philosophy in golf instruction will be promoted at the academy using the most advanced teaching software, the Trackman 4e, and instructors selected and trained by the McGinley team. These instructors will be led by the Director of Golf, Matt Sandercock, AA PGA Professional and Trackman certified coach, who recently arrived from Sunningdale.
The academy sits below the windows of what used to be one of the most comfortable and popular clubhouse bars anywhere: today, the Hunter’s Yard has been redeveloped to form part of the expanding hotel facilities, although both The Hound bar and The Stables restaurant retain their considerable cosy charm.
Golfers will now retire to the state-of- the-art clubhouse next door. Opened last year, it complements the academy alongside and also overlooks the practice range and a gleaming Rolex clock… intended, no doubt, to encourage golfers to get to the 1st tee in plenty of time.
The Paul McGinley Golf Academy has redesigned the existing practice facilities, reconfiguring and updating them to create a specific coaching and fitting centre. It is the newly sculpted 15-acre driving range, however, which undoubtedly catches the eye. It has been completely re-turfed and now facilitates the full armoury of shot-making: greens are positioned at a variety of distances; and two full length fairways are split by a large tree further down the range. These specifically encourage golfers to test their draw and fade shots. Visually, it is impressive and the teeing ground below the Hunter’s Yard stretches to 3,500 square metres, including synthetic grass for when the frost bites. Over 300 large trees were transplanted from around the course to create a dense, curving border along the left-hand side of the range. More trees will appear at the end of the range in time, continuing to add to the range’s aesthetics.
Elsewhere, there are two putting greens and a short game area.
It is combining nicely to create one of Ireland’s top facilities where every aspect of the game will be developed and taught. From beginners up to the top level, all will be welcome.
“I’ve spoken to Pat Finn at the GUI, and Neil Manchip, to say that our facility will be open to the elite players of Ireland,” says McGinley. “If they want to have a training camp here, Matt (Sandercock) will facilitate that.
The community part of it is important, too, and it will be Matt’s and Sean’s jobs to engage with the local schools. So there’s a community aspect to this as well as the commercial side.” Within the academy, two fully equipped teaching bays will be developed alongside three sheltered driving bays. All will be heated. Many of the leading brands will be available for custom-fitting, including Taylormade, Callaway and Vega, and clubs will be expertly fitted with the use of Trackman 4e and the expert team. With Trackman Certified coaches on site golfers will find their game taken to a new level.
For those interested, the estate has Stay, Learn & Play packages which make the most of both the Paul McGinley Golf Academy and the Estate’s
Individuals, couples, and groups can all look forward to learning to play the McGinley way.
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