European Club - Wicklow - Ireland

The European Club,
Brittas Bay,
Co Wicklow,
Ireland


  • +353 404 47415


The European Club is located in the garden of Ireland, between the coastal towns of Wicklow and Arklow, about 30 miles south of Dublin. It’s Pat Ruddy’s creation, which opened for play in 1993, and he and his family have stayed here ever since. This was a unique experience, a 20-hole links set amongst rugged dunes, until the 20-hole configuration was replicated down under in 2010 at Barnbougle Lost Farm.

Ruddy’s continued involvement with the European Club will no doubt only improve matters; the course is evolving and he will be there to help it on its way. We are especially pleased to see that a charming burn has replaced the out-of-place lake in front of the 18th green. It’s an old adage to say that many of the holes look so natural that you’d think they’d been there forever, but it’s true. Ruddy has done an equally good job here as that of Kyle Phillips at Kingsbarns.

This is an inspiring place to play golf, huge dunes provide tremendous definition and the Irish Sea is very much a backcloth. It’s a bit of a monster too; the 18-hole layout stretches to more than 7,000 yards, a challenging par 71. Two par 3s (7a & 12a) make up the par 77 20-hole layout and they are definitely worth playing, making a refreshing break from tradition.

There is no doubt that Ruddy has a sense of humour – the scorecard is full of witticisms, even the green on the par four 12th is humorous at over 125 yards long, with any three putt being an achievement. This is an enjoyable and memorable course. Many of the holes are varied and capture one’s attention and there are some great holes too.

The 7th (stroke index 1) is a long 470-yard par four, it's ranked in the world's best 100 holes and it's set on a sandbank that runs through a bed of reeds. A burn runs along the right hand side, beyond which there's a hundred acres of unspoiled land without a building to be seen. On the left are towering dunes, a marsh filled with reeds and more sand dunes by the green. Brittas Bay shimmers behind the green. The 13th – four evil bunkers on the left-hand side and the Irish Sea on the right – amply protect this very long 596-yard par five. The 14th is an arresting par three, measuring 165 yards with a plateau green shielded by huge dunes.

This is an absolute must-play golf course and quite likely one of the last links courses to be built in Ireland.

Pat Ruddy kindly provided the following update at the start of 2017:

At the European Club, I have my notebooks under constant review and there are always things that could be done and things that should be done. Each winter, and on all my review projects, I take and advocate a "steady as it goes" approach for many reasons, including not disrupting the life of a links to an extent that the oldest members will have their final years upset too much. We have a 20-hole course so I can work at two at any time and still have eighteen in play.

We’ve just finishing remodeling greens at holes 9 and 10. The green on the 9th was very nice with swerving, curving mounds eating into the green left and right at mid-point but they’ve been reshaped and softened, with the introduction of several extra small and almost imperceptible swings to add great intrigue to the running approach. The green on the 10th is somewhat the same so I have softened a mound on the right side of the green and enlarged the back right pin position which is the strongest on the green. The pin can now go two club lengths further right and demand a more nuanced approach.

I’m thrilled with these changes as they look great and should play great for the Irish Amateur Close Championship here next year. When we had the Close here in 2006 it produced a great winner in Rory McIlroy, with Shane Lowry caddying for his opponent in the final!”

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Reviews for European Club

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Description: The European Club is located in the garden of Ireland, between the coastal towns of Wicklow and Arklow, about 30 miles south of Dublin. Rating: 9 out of 10 Reviews: 62
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Geoffrey Mahony
We played this course luckily on the 6th of November on a clear sunny day. I had read the book of Pat Ruddy (the owner and also architect) "50 years in the same bunker" before I played. The book was about the efforts of locating a suitable site for his dream golf course and when doing so designing and sculpting the course within his own reasonable means. It was great to get a insight into the development of the course and you can tell he is very proud of his efforts. Mr. Ruddy welcomed us before we departed out to the course which was great also.The course itself is brilliant, the first thing that catches your eye is the Sleepers that are embedded into the side of all the bunkers, I think it sets off the bunkers very well along the fairways. Nearly every tee shot requires you to avoid these sleeper lined bunkers. We found the greens very fast even considering the time of year but were also very true. There is 2 extra par 3's which is also great fun which adds up to 20 holes. The highlight was the majestic views of holes 12th 13th 14th by the Irish coast where also you could have a putt on a green of 125 yards which is crazy but fun. The final hole also is very quant with a burn meandering in front of the green, where they even had ball collectors if your ball went into the water, amazing but simple idea. All in all our 2 ball found our day out amazing, the staff were extremely helpful and friendly. The experience was definitely helped with the clear sky and no wind as this could be a tougher animal with the wind howling into you. The clubhouse is basic enough but the emphasis is on the golf course and nature itself. We will definitely be calling back to Mr. Ruddy and the European club hopefully in the near future. (GM)
November 07, 2010
10 / 10
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Jim McCann

I loved The European Club. In particular, I loved the wooden sleepers lining the bunkers here - even if some of these railway ties were angled into the ground instead of being piled in straight, European Club - Photo by Jim McCannallowing golf balls heading for a sandy fate to sometimes ricochet into play or into adjacent rough (as happened to me a couple of times). Then again, I don’t really mind such a capricious bounce as it surely goes with the uneven territory when playing by the seaside.

Before setting out on my round, I was surprised to read Local Rule 5 on the scorecard referring to “Large Greens” (balls on the green must be putted or dropped off the green under penalty as no chipping or pitching is allowed) then I realized the putting surface on the 12th is all of 127 yards from back to front! How could I have previously thought that only a certain Robert Von Hagge was prone to the occasional grand architectural statement on the course? Mercifully, the remaining greens were all of a somewhat more customary proportion, permitting sensible pin placements on every hole.

Although the first half dozen fairways are situated on high ground a good few hundred yards from the Irish Sea - the notes in the “Shot Saving Guide to the Links” describes the course as a “raised links” - they whet the appetite for the real deal to come on the back nine and the stretch of holes from 12 to 15 is very good indeed. And, despite the fact that holes 7, 13 and 14 are said by some to be the best on the property, I actually thought the best holes were the two delightful “extra” par threes at 7a and 12a. It’s not often that uphill par threes can be made interesting but these two certainly were with the former played to a bunkerless green nestled between dunes and the latter played to a green perched on the side of a sand hill with carry all the way from the tee – wonderful!

For those who read such things, the course guide mentions a) how highly ranked the course and some of the holes are, b) the big names that have played here, and c) the golfing greats with particular holes dedicated to them. Now things like that can offend the golfing sensibilities of some - I’m more put out by having the likes of non native vegetation such as palm trees dotted around courses, actually - but I’ve read the owner’s book “50 Years in a Bunker” and fully appreciate that his half century of service to Irish golf earns him the right to spread the golfing plaudits as thick as he likes.

Pat Ruddy’s natural ability to cock a snook at convention is concisely encapsulated within his Mizzen Head property, both on and off the course - and, fair play to him, he has adapted and changed things around over nearly twenty years as the layout has evolved. If you like your golf tough, scenic and totally engaging then this place will give you all of that and a lot more besides. With the new ring road around Dublin bringing Brittas Bay to within one hour of the airport, visiting golfers would be foolish to not include The European Club in their itinerary. Jim McCann

July 01, 2010
8 / 10
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Brian H Findlater
The best course in Ireland. Played here following Portrush, County Down and Old Portmarnock. Portmarnock doesn't belong in the sentence above with the other three. But back to the European Club. Wonderful conditions, slick greens and fairways! Beautiful views, memorable holes and the added treat of a conversation and photo op with Pat Ruddy after the match. Very friendly reception at the clubhouse. Get good directions it's a little hard to find but well worth the effort. Do not go to Ireland golfing without playing here!
June 03, 2010
10 / 10
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Billy
Unique is a cliché used to describe many courses but the 20-hole European is surely more unique than most. Perhaps it’s too difficult for the handicap player, especially when the course is set up in it’s tournament livery. We played here ahead of the 2009 Irish Professional Championship and it was too difficult for me to play anywhere near my handicap despite calm conditions and the whole of Ireland basking in rare hot sunshine. The fairways were too narrow and the rough was frankly too rough. That said, this was the 2nd time I’d played Mr Ruddy’s course and I enjoyed the experience every bit as much as my previous encounter. I’d certainly recommend the experience to any serious golfer who is not afraid of getting beaten up and losing a few balls. The eccentricity of the place is obvious and I’m not a personal fan of railway sleepered bunkers, especially those placed on fairways. If it were my course, I would consider a programme of riveting and the use of pot bunkers. However, a course designer I am not, but all I know is that a sculled shot from a sleepered bunker can result in injury and a solid tee shot hitting a railway sleeper can result in your ball disappearing into oblivion. All of this said, I do agree with an earlier reviewer, the European is a better course than Portmarnock Old and feel the European thoroughly deserves its position in the World Top 100.
November 13, 2009
8 / 10
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Cedric
November 13, 2009
I also loved the European... But saying it's better than Portmarnock Old?? I'm not sure... There isn't a country mile between those 2, but Portmarnock has the edge for me.
Tom Sleater
November 16, 2009
The european is quirky, challenging and beautiful. To my mind the most personal and special day can be had here. Its spectacular a course that deserves the merits it gets - a must play course in my mind.
Kevin Powers
November 25, 2009
To compare the European and Portmarnock, I think, is awkward, at best. One is virtually flat (Portmarnock), the other rises and falls among the dunes with a number of elevated tees (European). Portmarnock's defense is 100+ bunkers, European's its rough and the player's picking a poor line off the tee. And while the European is very scenic, Portmarnock is very average in that regard. Both great courses and difficult, but not at all similar.
erik
Very Tough course for this 10 handicapper. A must play if your anywhere near this course. The staff is great and Mr Ruddy greated us and we took a pic with him at the end of the round. Not a lot of marking, no caddies, no GPS, tough rough, but a fantastic course and even greater back nine. AAAAA+++++
October 14, 2009
10 / 10
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Edward
Played today in fantastic conditions. Course was superb - surpassed all expectations I had heard from the reviews, seen in the photographs and heard from the Irish PGA. Fairways were like carpets, greens were fast and true, bunkers well placed with lovely soft beach sand. Each hole was spectacular in its own right. Highlights for me were the 7th and then 12th through to 18th. Looking back up the coast from the 15th green it felt like I was playing Pebble Beach! Just stunning. I've played RCD, Portmarnock, Baltray and Seapoint this summer. European blows them out of the water in both conditioning and course layout. Loved it.
August 20, 2009
10 / 10
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Timothy
The European Club was a perfect way to close out our recent father-son trip to Ireland.Our driver walked the front 9/10 with us, and we enjoyed the front 9/10 a great deal. But then our driver quietly left us, offering us no hint of what the back 9/10 would hold for us. And wow, were we in for a treat! The back 9/10 is so wonderful that it is a perfect way to close out any trip to Ireland. On this -- our first trip -- it was easy to get lost in the moment on the back 9/10, to the point that we really lost all concern for our scoring on this first trip. By the time we saw our driver again on the 18th/20th green, the only word I had left for him was "superb!" One more thing -- the hospitality at the European Club was so wonderful and refreshing. My thanks to the Ruddy family for their vision and hospitality.
August 08, 2009
10 / 10
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Kevin Powers
Another year, another trip to The European Club. And it was as brilliant as last year. It is a great layout (and I don't use the term lightly), the condition was again excellent, and I simply never get tired of the views-particularly from 3, 12, and 17 tee boxes. I didn't think the Ruddy family could outdo last year's reception and treatment but they did. Let me say it this way; if I could choose 5 courses in Ireland to play forever, and only 5, they would be in order, The European, Waterville, Ballyliffin, Royal Portrush, Royal County Down.
July 11, 2009
10 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
A lot has been said about Pat’s own golf course and the bulk of it complimentary; it is impossible to disagree with any of it to be honest. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole aspect of the course, including the two extra par-3 holes (one on each nine) that have stroke indexes of 19 and 20! It is close to being a 6-baller but I take one away just on degree of difficulty; some holes are unbelievably difficult to play to handicap on. Great experience though and the 12th green at 100 yards or so in length is a hole in itself. Recommended.
July 05, 2009
8 / 10
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James
A warmer welcome to a golf club you will not find anywhere else. As for the course, this really is an absolute brute and if you are slightly off your game, you will be looking for a an awful lot of golf balls. The Irish PGA championship is being played here next month, and clearly the course is being set up for that: shin and knee high rough (just a yard or so off the fairways) and greens running extremely fast. We played it on a gorgeous sunny afternoon with a stiff-ish breeze, but it was almost too much for us. There are so many good holes. No.7 has been mentioned many times below, but for me, the run from 10 to 13 is unbelievable. By some distance, this is the hardest links I have ever played and I will be interested to see what score wins the PGA next month. If I had to make just the tiniest criticism, it would be the bunkers. Yes, they look super, and they are proper hazards, but because they all have wooden sleepers in the face you can run the risk of a slightly off line shot being unfairly punished if the ball lands on one of the faces on the fly and rebounds into thick rough, sometimes never to be seen again. Overall, though, this is a superb course and probably second only to Royal County Down in Ireland. For the welcome and service you get from the staff at the club, however, nothing else comes close.
June 14, 2009
10 / 10
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