"AN amateur-friendly golf course that will also challenge the top professional."
That was Pádraig Harrington last night extolling the virtues of the sensationally redesigned Adare Manor golf course ahead of today’s official opening fourball in which he and Shane Lowry will take on Paul McGinley and Rory McIlroy.
Harrington, winner of the Irish Open at Adare in 2007, played a a major role in the dramatic transformation of the course and confirmed that he was absolutely thrilled at how the refurbishment has come to fruition so successfully.
Although it is common knowledge that owner JP McManus has thrown his hat into the ring to host the 2026 Ryder Cup at Adare, an event that bi-annually severely tests the game of golf’s leading professionals, Harrington stressed that he had no fears about the capacity of amateur players to enjoy a round of golf at Adare.
“Every hole gives amateur golfers a fair chance,” he maintains. “The 18th may be an exception because while it remains the best hole on the course, it will be a tough proposition for a pro in need of a birdie four to win a tournament and no pushover either for an amateur with a par to win. Other than that, golf balls will only be lost in water and easily found at every hole.”
World-renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio rows in with Harrington’s assessment: “You can hit it anywhere and not be in the rough and see the back of the ball. Every hole is very playable. However, to score well, you have to place the ball on each shot.“
Fazio was hired by JP McManus to mastermind the redesign of the Robert Trent Jones layout and the result has been nothing short of stunning. While the original 18 hole layout remains largely unaltered, one can only stand and look on in wonder at how each and every one has been updated to the highest possible standard with trees replanted or moved so that the course is now much more open and offers some staggering views.
This is especially the case at the par 5 9th, where the new green is located some 50 or 60 yards to the right of its original location, thereby offering an unobstructed view of the majestic manor house in the background. It can be fairly assumed that the hole will quickly be regarded as one of the finest and most scenic in all of golf.
“Adare Manor has always been a great fun place to stay and enjoy Irish hospitality with a beautiful setting along the River Maigue,” says Tom Fazio.
“We created a strategic, park-style championship venue that will be meticulously manicured. It is unique and special with its own very distinctive Irish vegetation and wildlife. Through extensive redesign and shaping of every hole and installing 135 acres of drained, sand-capped, fast and firm, low cut turf, wall to wall, this golf course looks and plays like no other in Ireland.”
The 73-year-old American is uniquely qualified to speak so highly of his achievement at Adare, given that he holds the record for the living designer with the most credits on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses and Golf Week’s collection of America’s Best. He also won the Golf Digest poll for Best Modern Day Golf Course architect so many times in a row that the contest was discontinued.
“Adare Manor will be a stand-out course in Europe,” says Fazio.
“Every hole is strategic and very playable. The greens will be fast and very firm as the sub-air system will be on daily. The finishing holes, 14 through 18, are perhaps the most memorable stretch with great views along the river and the manor in the backdrop. And with the manor hotel refurbishment, this will be one of the finest stay-and-play venues ever created.”
JP McManus acquired the Manor and golf course and its 800 acres in 2014. The massive refurbishing programme now culminating in the upgrading of all the amenities has come at a reputed cost in the region of €200m.
Consequently, it looks a near certainty that the 2026 Ryder Cup match will be played there with the golf course and the superb five-star, on-site manor hotel covering all the requirements for the hosting of such a huge event.
McIlroy and McGinley will link up against Harrington and Lowry in today’s fourball “challenge” carrying a €500,000 prize fund with €350,000 for the winners and €150,000 for the runners-up, the money to be donated to charities of the golfers choosing.
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