Adare Manor is set in more than 800 acres of beautiful parkland and formal gardens. The 18th century manor house, located alongside the River Maigue, is an architectural masterpiece of towers and turrets. It was once the ancestral home of the Earls of Dunraven. Now it’s an opulent, luxury hotel.
Adare’s original course opened for play in 1995 and was designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr. It was a typical Trent Jones design, stretching out a massive 7,453 yards from back tees to a more modest 5,082 yards from the forward tees. The course displayed all Trent Jones’s hallmarks - cloverleaf bunkers, American-styled mounding, and lots of water. The result was extremely challenging, pleasant but rather predictable despite plenty of natural features and hazards, including the stately trees and the River Maigue, which meanders nonchalantly through the course.
Host to a number of tournaments, including the Irish Seniors Open, held here for three consecutive years, most recently in 2004. The 2003 Irish P.G.A Championship was staged here too and Paul McGinley emerged victorious. More recently Adare secured a three-year deal with the European Tour to host the Irish Open (2007-2009). Undoubtedly the Irish Open was the most important event in the club’s short history, and, for the 2007 event, the course played the longest in Irish Open history measuring a whopping 7,453 yards from the championship tips.
The Irish Open put the dashing and stylish Adare Manor firmly on the map and as a consequence the event cemented Adare's position as one of the best inland tracks in Ireland. But the course began to drop down the golf course rankings becoming just another pleasant, but tough, resort course.
In 2015, Irish businessman and racehorse owner J. P. McManus bought Adare Manor for an estimated €30 million and immediately embarked on a redevelopment programme. It was reported that the businessman purchased the property with a view to returning the Irish Open to Adare and with a long-term view of bringing the Ryder Cup back to Ireland in 2026.
Golf course reconstruction started in March 2016 under Tom Fazio’s guidance, the architect commented as follows: "Most golfers will never have seen anything like this course. It looks and plays like no other course in Ireland. This will be a stand out course in Europe and, with the Adare Manor house and estate as its setting, will be one of the finest stay and play venues ever created – everyone is going to want to see this place.”
The brand new golf facility reopened in Spring 2018 with SubAir systems installed for the first time in Ireland. The golfing bar, condition-wise, has been stratospherically elevated and the course significantly altered by Fazio Design.
The site was capped with more than 200,000 tonnes of sand, 50 miles of drainage pipes were installed and fibre optic conduit buried around every hole for future television requirements. All told, there’s now 135 acres of maintained grass on the property. The course routing remains intact but the fairways have been regraded to improve playing surfaces and promote firm and fast playing conditions.
Overgrown areas have been cleared, with non-native species removed, allowing light and air to enhance the quality of the greens and fairways, as well as opening out views across the estate. Green sites have also been raised and there are now only 42 bunkers in play throughout the course. Great credit is due to Atlantic Golf Construction for transforming the old course into the pristine layout now in operation.
It’s too early to tell whether or not the makeover will propel Adare Manor back up the golf course rankings. Some golfers will love the opulence, service and immaculate grooming. Other golfers will choose to head to the coast to savour Ireland’s classic and modern links courses. We’ll just have to wait and see whether or not the extraordinary investment in Ireland’s heartland pays off.
In recent months, the Adare Manor resort in Co. Limerick opened its renovated championship golf course. The layout is a sight to behold and will not resemble anything you’ll have ever seen in Ireland before. The club’s owner, Mr. J.P McManus, opened his deep pockets to create a facility which is head and shoulders above everything else in Ireland from a quality and service perspective. It’s a super exclusive high-end resort with a newly overhauled Tom Fazio layout. The grass on the golf course feels like carpet and is maintained to standards I’ve rarely seen anywhere in the world. It’s the first and only course in Ireland to install USGA sub-air systems to control the temperatures of the greens. There’s more state of the art technology under this golf course then you can even imagine, and it’s effortlessly hidden out of sight. If there’s a need, that need is fulfilled with no hesitation. For the 18 holes, there are 55 (yes, 55!!) green keepers. On average, I’d expect 10-14 greenkeepers – but Adare Manor not only raises the bar, it lifts it so high that it’s out of sight.
The front nine is relatively flat and feels wide open. In places, with limited trees, the front side feels like a huge green velvet tablecloth has been placed on the ground with a handful of yellow flags dotted around the horizon. With such little movement in the terrain, Fazio’s shapers were working overtime to create the cryptic greens and lethal aprons. Violent undulations protect the greens and will strike fear into the heart of many. The green keepers roll the greens, and another group of maintenance crew roll the aprons, which is sight to see. In addition, formations of mowers plot their way up and down the fairways bringing the quality of the playing surfaces to be in line with the extraordinarily high standards only seen in the wealthiest US clubs.
The front side is not as memorable, and essentially is all about mastering the greens, whereas the back nine has a much different personality. The course gets tighter, the tall trees begin to line the fairways and we are introduced to significant change in elevation. I personally felt the golf course stepped up its game architecturally starting on the 12th tee. You’re faced with an uphill dog-legging par 5 which I thought was brilliant.
The par 4 13th hole is the favourite hole of many with a blind tee shot to a downhill protected green. The golf course is now hugely more interesting. The hole moves gently left to right and is framed beautifully by the trees. The par 4 14th requires less than driver off the tee to stay short of the water, but requires precision with the approach into the deep narrow green. Moving along the fabulous short par 4 15th which is a drivable hole with water running the entire way up the right-hand side. On one side of the river you have fisherman peacefully waiting to catch their lunch, and on the other side of the river, you have golfers shivering in their boots wondering what to do off the tee. Play it safe? Or go for glory? The magnificent Manor hotel providing the backdrop just adds to the excitement, and adds an element of theatre to the hole.
It gets better with the daunting par 3 16th playing anywhere from 140 to 180 yards over a large deep pond to a very shallow green that must be 80 yards wide. This dance floor is nothing but a sliver in the horizon and requires the highest levels of skill to hit the green. Short is death, and over the back has waves of very deep undulating tightly mown hollows to add to your misery. The par 4 17th brings you back into the forest and is a very stern test all the way to the green. The last hole will be familiar with many golfers around the world. Again, with the Manor as the backdrop, this treacherous par 5 has water up the left off the tee to a narrow fairway. The green sits on the other side of the river and emphasizes a number of strategic decisions. If you lay up, you’ll face a short wedge over the water to a newly contoured green that will reject even the best of shots. If you open your shoulders and take the chance to cross the river with your second shot, there’s no easy place to attack the flag from. It’s a massively demanding closing hole – and with the 2026 Ryder Cup in mind – the back nine at Adare Manor will hopefully provide an epic test to the world’s best players.
You can conclude from my review that the back nine is significantly more interesting from an architectural and topography perspective.
The staff at the club are committed to providing the highest level of service imaginable and creating an experience for visitors unlike anywhere in the world. From a golf perspective, if you’re not staying at the Manor, the green fee is 280 Euros and caddies for 55 Euro are mandatory. Caddies will greet you at the front door, get your clubs from your car and escort you around. Irish golfers won’t be accustomed to this treatment. With an estimated 15000 thousand rounds a year, I expect the majority of players to be international guests with deep pockets who seek out privacy, peaceful seclusion and the finer things in life. Like everything in the world, you get what you pay for – and nothing at all has been spared thanks to Mr. McManus’ vision for his home county. The experience of Adare Manor will stay with you forever and you can expect to be treated like a King in truly palatial surroundings from the second you’re escorting inside the guarded gates. While Ireland has nothing even remotely like this, it’s wonderful for our country to have a facility that strives for levels of perfection that are sky-high and will show the world that the Emerald Isle has unveiled yet another slice of paradise.