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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Steven Hurley
Myself and three friends have just returned from a golfing holiday to Wicklow (29/4/09). The European Club was the second of four courses that we played. It’s a truly magnificent set up and track, playing this course was a spectacular experience and one I shall never forget. We received the friendliest greeting imaginable from staff upon our arrival perfectly setting up the day of golf which lay ahead of us. The course was immaculate, tee boxes appeared almost unused, the fairways were similar to some greens which I’ve played and the greens were amazingly true and fast. The European Club is a “must play” for any golfer.This track will test your golfing ability in full and is probably best suited to sub 15 handicappers, although higher handicappers (myself playing off 18) will appreciate the course lay out, challenging holes and the experience of playing such a fine track. To play this course you need to be on your game, all bad shots are severely punished either by rough, bunkers or positioning. The setting is also outstanding in terms of scenery, particularly the 12th and 13th both of which run alongside the coast line. Unfortunately you cannot control the weather. We experienced heat, sun and wind for the opening two holes, followed by wind and rain then heavy hail stones and torrential rain which flooded the course. Due to flooding and lightning we were unable to finish the round fortunately for us Pat Ruddy Junior was working in the pro shop. He arranged for us to return the following afternoon providing buggies and the round free of charge, a measurement of the terrific service we received at the Club. The course had fully drained in those 24hrs the sun was shinning and the golf was great. I’ll never forget my rounds at The European Club and I look forward to returning again one day and taking up the challenge once more.
April 30, 2009
10 / 10
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Ronald
We just returned from a trip to Ireland where the European Club was our last course. I played on a Sunday afternoon while my wife walked along and we had a marvelous time. The course is beautiful and a great challenge and the staff were as nice as could be, everyone from the restaurant to the starter. We were even welcomed by Mr. Ruddy himself and he was a most pleasant person. Everything that has been written about this place and course is true and is a must play when in Ireland, we will definitely include it again on our trip next year, thanks for everything.
March 31, 2009
10 / 10
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Alex Westenfield
I've played this course twice, in 2005 and 2007.Have had an excellent welcome in the clubhouse and thoroughly enjoyed the course both times, once in a 30 mph wind, the other a relatively calm day. Challenging but fun course to play with outstanding scenery, especially by the ocean. I love the 12th and 13th holes, I watched my dad hit a hybrid into a back pin position on the 125-yard 12th green to about 4 feet and he made birdie. One of the more fun shots I have witnessed from him. If they would allow this American to be an international member, I'd be honored. A must on any golf itinerary when in the Dublin area. Alex Westenfield, Iowa, USA.
December 18, 2008
10 / 10
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Patrick McGarey
A great course and a great story (a labor of love for the well-known Irish golf course architect, Mr. Pat Ruddy). A physical setting on a par with ANY classic coastal course (Pebble Beach, Ballybunion, Turnberry, Portrush), with a challenging, varied layout and great conditioning. I find the criticism of some of the quirky features ("burn" in front of #18, 125 yard deep green, two auxiliary holes) misguided. While there can be a fine line between gimmickry and idiosyncrasy in course design, the latter is an essential element of classic links such as Lahinch, North Berwick and The Old Course. I don't begrudge Mr. Ruddy these personal flourishes. Play this course, which is a bargain compared to most comparable "Top 50" tracks - and certainly compared to many vastly inferior courses. P. McGarey
November 06, 2008
10 / 10
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Martyn Lowden
We played this course when the Ryder cup was being played at the K club.All I can say, with a lump in my throat, is it was quite simply the finest golfing experience of my life. At one with nature, majestic challenging stunning links golf, and we had the pleasure of shaking Pat Ruddy's hand to boot.What a masterpiece!Martyn Lowden
September 30, 2008
10 / 10
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mark little
I have never written a golf review before but having just returned from playing the European I feel compelled to write. It is quite simply the finest links course I have ever played, and coming from a Scotsman who has played every top links course in my homeland, that is some statement. The course just kept on building up to a crescendo with us having to spend a few minutes on each tee box just taking in the views and "smelling the coffee". A superb creation that would do credit to the hosting of a major professional tourmament. It is also the first time that I have played in a 4 ball where the combined total of strokes taken on one hole was 8 (par 3 7th). Pat Ruddy - I doff my hat to you, and next time we come over I promise we will not be wearing denim in the clubhouse afterwards.
September 28, 2008
10 / 10
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dublinspur
I have been playing golf up and down the length and breath of Ireland for more than 20 years and I have never played on a finer golf course then the European Club.It's a fantastic challenge. The holes are carved out of the naturally spectaculor landscape. Each hole fits beautifully into the natural terrain.The highlight for me is the 12th & 13th. Both run parallel to the Irish Sea and provide amazing views. Both holes also posses fabulous greens that could not be replecated anywhere else and are a perfect example ofthe depth of imagination that has been gone into on the design of the courseI generally play the European Club once a year (in Nov) and it is always the highlight of my golfing calander.
August 24, 2008
10 / 10
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soleilrouge
I have played this course about fifty times. In my view, it has the greatest collection of consistently high standard and difficult golf holes in Ireland. Not a weak hole and great variety. Any decent golfer playing off the back sticks when the wind and rough are up (as they invariably are) will have a fantastic experience even before you consider the beauty of the place. I have played many other links in Ireland and many of them are truly wonderful to play. However, the European stands apart as the one where the excitement does not diminish to some extent after the fourth or fifth round. A pleasure in all respects.
August 15, 2008
10 / 10
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RJ Thompson
The course is still fresh in my mind after playing yesterday morning and I must say that this is one of the “can’t miss” courses on the Irish links circuit. The real estate is beautiful, the routing is spectacular and the condition most impressive. I would only place it behind County Down and certainly in the same category as Ballybunion, Portrush and Portmarnock. To me, the experience “feels” most like that at Waterville, another outstanding course. Besides the stunning beauty of gorse-and-dune-framed fairways (played the tips so my legs are still sore today), the challenge is certainly there from tee-to-green. I appreciated the lack of blind tee-shots (even though Royal St George’s is one of my favorites) and I was very impressed at the illusion of small landing areas only to find 60+ yards when I finally reached the fairway (this can be frustrating for a low handicap, first timer and caddies would have made the difference.) Greens were immaculate and didn’t have the “fall-away” feature of many links courses. I met Mr. Ruddy before the round and only wish he was still there when I finished so that I could ask him about some of his design features (purpose of the 12th green, water at 18th, etc) which seemed a bit out of place but certainly not a detraction from the golf. My only suggestion to make this a better place is the addition of a dormy house. That way I could join from London and play on weekends.
April 12, 2008
10 / 10
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Kevin Powers
July 10, 2008
Agree completely re the water on 18. It was the only hole that didn't fit. Some creative bunkering would have been preferable. Expect that the green on 12 is for the pros-pin in back makes it a 540 yard par 4. Pat's revenge I suppose.
Chris Blaine
I am certainly not a world traveling golfer, and have not had the opportunity to play some of the more famous courses around the world. Having said that, I had the opportunity to play the European a few weeks back and I was blown away by the beauty, course layout, challenge and fun that the course offers. I played with a couple of N. American friends who live in Ireland and play the course regularly. What I found most refreshing was the people that tend to the course and it's patrons. The front nine is a challenging links layout with several blind shots that made having a few more experienced players along a necessity. The back nine was stunning along the water. I enjoyed 17 the most with both an elevated tee box and green. It was a special round and will go back again on my next visit to Ireland.
November 17, 2007
8 / 10
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