Kevin Markham.


Creating ‘Europe’s Augusta’ as JP McManus directs Adare Manor reinvention

The five-star Adare Manor Resort redesign is eagerly anticipated, writes Kevin Markham.

Creating ‘Europe’s Augusta’ as JP McManus directs Adare Manor reinvention

It was just over a year ago when the Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort closed its doors for an 18-month renovation, refurbishment, renewal — perhaps, call it a reinvention.

Purchased in 2015 by JP McManus, it was a delight to see the resort falling into the hands of an Irishman. Plenty of other resorts and hotels have been acquired by external interests and while this may be no bad thing, having that Irish influence at the helm of a world-class resort is reassuring. After all, JP has quite the relationship with Adare, which has now, quite literally, been cemented.

The McManus family wasted little time shaking things up, but the level of changes being introduced took most people by surprise. Set on 840 acres, the five-star resort was already world famous and the golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, was regarded as the best parkland in Ireland. Not easy to improve on that.

On the golf side of things, the decision to make changes to such a highly regarded course was an interesting one. The stated goal of the redesign is to turn Adare into one of the finest courses in Europe. Indeed, the phrase ‘Augusta of Europe’ is being whispered. More dramatic than even that is the hope it will attract the Ryder Cup in 2026, something which will turn the golfing world’s attention back to Ireland for the most gladiatorial of golf tournaments… 20 years after Europe won in stunning fashion at the K Club.

There are still over six months to go before the resort re-opens (in September) but photos taken from the old Adare Manor Golf Club, next door, slip into the public domain from time to time, and sporadic comments on social media all feed the frenzy of what is to come. And then there are the occasional videos and newsletters released by Adare through its website and social media channels.

Pádraig Harrington’s January visit helped to ramp up the anticipation. It was a publicity masterpiece. Adare’s enhanced golf offering will include a new arrival experience, driving range, caddy programme and clubhouse. No stone is being left unturned but it is the golf course that has everybody in suspense.

Renowned American golf course designer, Tom Fazio, was chosen to conduct the comprehensive redesign of the course… and comprehensive it has been. The structure of the course, the flow of the land shapes are changing to match Fazio’s expertise and passion for creating stunning yet sustainable golf courses. These were undoubtedly reasons he was invited to work on the project in the first place. Within his design plans, each hole of the golf course is set to have distinct character and unique playability, creating a complete golf experience to satisfy all levels of golfer, whether they play from the forward or back tees. The snippets of information given out by the club emphasise the depth of the changes.

Each green and tee are being rebuilt and redesigned from scratch, and every bunker is being replaced with the latest Capillary Concrete liner drainage technology. The change in the course’s physical appearance will be considerable even if the order of the holes remains the same. There will be no long rough which helps explain why there will be twice as much cut grass as before, equivalent to 79 hectares… or 110 football pitches. Construction will include significant underground installations for drainage, with new irrigation and water delivery systems are also being introduced. There will be sand-capping of all fairways and roughs for the driest playing conditions and, thanks to a remarkable technology called SubAir, introduced beneath every putting surface on the course, there will be constant air movement to provide aeration while also moderating temperature in the root zone. Adare will be one of just a handful of courses worldwide to have this patented technology.

Every green will have Pure Distinction bent grass to ensure the course has the purest putting surfaces available.

This all combines to deliver a golf course which will be playable in all conditions.

It is probable that the first major event to be held here will be JP’s acclaimed Pro-Am, planned for July 2020, to which the world’s best golfers are invited (and nearly always accept). In 2010, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson, John Daly, and Henrik Stenson were just some of the names who trailed in behind the eventual winner, Darren Clarke. A 21-year-old Rory McIlroy finished 19th (out of 54).

With major golf events in mind, Fazio is overseeing the infrastructure of roadways, hospitality arenas and access areas, while wiring for tournament power, media and telecommunications has been a part of the construction process. Here are some of the numbers involved in the evolution of the course:

  • 72,000 linear metres of drainage;
  • 64,000 tonnes of sand beneath the rough;
  • 50,000 kilograms of seed on the greens, tees, fairways, and rough;
  • 35,000 tonnes of sand beneath the fairways;
  • 12,500m sq of Pure Distinction creeping bent seed sod;
  • 3,000 tonnes of bunker sand in 44 bunkers;
  • 2,700m sq of increased size in the greens;
  • 1,215 sprinklers;
  • 82 brand new tees;
  • 79 hectares of cut grass
  • 19 new bridges over the River Maigue.

Any one of those figures is impressive but, combined with Fazio’s work, they will be expected to ensure that the former ‘best parkland in Ireland’ reinforces that number one status.

Elsewhere, upgrades to the resort include an expansive ballroom, with capacity for 350 guests, a spa, pool and relaxation area, a cinema and a boardroom. A new wing with 42 guestrooms will increase the room total to 104. A complete redesign of the golf clubhouse is also underway, by David Collins Studio London, which will form a vital part of that new arrival experience.

For those who would like the opportunity to work at the resort itself, there are dozens of positions being advertised, including roles in golf services and golf operations.

Roll on September 2017.

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