I first played at Adare Manor eleven years ago and the holes along the River Maigue (15th and 18th) were memorable but the course then was good but not great. My visit in April 2019 brought a completely different experience – I had heard of the investment levels on and off the course plus the desire to bring golf’s biggest team event here in 2026 but I was not expecting the improvements to be at the level that they are – completely off the scale. The work that Tom Fazio has done here is unbelievable – the course is un-recognisable from before.
If could be lazy writing to say that the course now is ‘Augusta like’ but it really is a decent comparison. Everything is first class and with 55 green-keepers the course should be in perfect condition and it is – presentation is not everything but when it is either good or bad it is very noticeable.
Your round starts with a caddy be assigned who will be at your side for the next 6 hours or so – as he carries your bag to the practise ground you can stride out in front, hands in pocket (Rory like) and just hope that you do not make too much of a mess of the professional range! After this, stops at the very impressive chipping green and then a few practice putts, you and your ‘man’ amble to the first tee – stocking up at the restaurant style halfway house on the way. For handicap golfers, this is just not a normal way to prepare for golf but what a treat the whole experience is.
Right from the opening hole, you are well aware that this is likely to be one of the very best inland courses you’ll play – with a tricky approach to this 400-yard hole across water at the offset green. I will mention the very next hole because of a very special personal moment; after an ok drive I was left with 204 yards to the flag (my caddy gave me this accurate yardage) – next came an out of body experience as my shot with a 5-wood flew high and with a slight cut was to reach the green – the bonus being it then rolled twenty feet and into the cup! Two under par for the first two holes, playing on this course and having such a ‘pro’ experience, my day was complete in the first hour.
Back in 2008 I was not that impressed with the middle of the front nine – well guess what? I am now, the par-4 5th turns right after crossing the river and then is uphill to the green and the par-3 6th has water on three sides and has a fantastic sloping green. The front nine ends with a par-5 that can play up to 633 yards – a great strategic hole with a slightly raised green that has the most severe and classy run-off behind the green that I have ever seen.
Collectively, the back-nine edges the front in terms of variety and although I have not been to Augusta, there are places that you get the hairs on the back of the neck moment that make you think you could be. The place where I got this most was whilst playing the 13th; 454 yards from the very back (I played at 403 yards) – this hole has pine trees all around (not too dense though), the recognisable pine straw all the way down the tree lines too. The hole turns a little right, the fairway slopes a little left and then to another raised green protected by a lone bunker with the blinding white sand – after tapping in for a double bogey six, I turned and looked at the hole just played and what a special moment – a hole from the very top drawer. The 16th hole is first class too – here is a par-3 (102 to 157 yards) over water to a very slim green, maybe just 10 yards deep – but the two big selling points here are, the green is 87 yards wide with what seems like dozens of potential hole positions and once again like the 9th, the run-off behind the green has to be seen to be believed. If you get your distance wrong by just a few feet, you are in a tightly-mown valley with a roller-coaster of a shot back to the pin, aiming back to the water – good luck!
The final hole is world-class – I remember playing it in 2008, which was also the year that Adare Manor hosted the Irish Open, when Richard Finch won (check out his third shot on YouTube) – he made the green in three shots but the stumble into River Maigue is as memorable as the win. The river is in play for every shot and even if you are in good position after two, approaching the green needs utmost concentration – the final green probably has the most severe run-offs on the whole course, so just being dry in regulation does not easily secure the par, the demands of this course continue to the very end.
The experience continues post round; super locker rooms, fine dining and all with the Irish craic that the world loves - your day ends as it has been throughout, on such a high level.
As mentioned, the owners have made it clear that the 2026 Ryder Cup is the event they want and I wish them good luck and I hope that it happens – maybe just to see if the Tour pros can eagle the 2nd hole – I hope not!
Date: April 07, 2019