European Club - Wicklow - Ireland

The European Club,
Brittas Bay,
Co Wicklow,
Ireland


  • +353 404 47415


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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 and he and his family have stayed there ever since. This is a unique experience, a 20-hole links set amongst rugged dunes. It opened for play in 1993 with only one thing missing – history.

Ruddy’s continued involvement with the European Club will no doubt only improve matters; the course needs time to evolve 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 for 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: 9.1 out of 10 Reviews: 61
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cjfoster
played this a few years ago on a wet windy day. Quite the hardest combinaton of course and conditons I've ever experienced. This is exhilarating links golf - proving too tough for my higher handicap colleagues after 10 holes. along with Royal St George's and Silloth on Solway the best links course I have played and the ussual friendly Irish welcome.
October 28, 2007
8 / 10
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Tim Groucott
I played the course back in 2004 with my 14 YO son, it was a day to remember. there was only two other people on the course, not many courses you can say that about. I will be moving to Arklow in early 2008 & am realy looking forward to playing the course again.
October 10, 2007
10 / 10
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David McGill
Had the pleasure of visiting in Sept 2006 on a truly miserable day for golf, with 40mph winds and sheeting rain. The highest compliment that I can pay is that our group hoped that the round would not end. Excellent routing and variety of golf holes, I do believe that I would never tire of playing this fine course. Highest quality service and greeting as well.Dave McGillToledo, Ohio
April 19, 2007
10 / 10
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Chris Mann
First let me qualify the negative side of this review by saying that this really is a very good golf course and that the greens are amongst the best I have ever played on, however whether the European deserves to be ranked this highly (within the World Top 100??) is questionable. The course's owner and designer Pat Ruddy claims that the European Club is all about the golf course and openly makes no apologies for the lack of adornments on the course or the "Spartan" nature of the clubhouse. This philosophy is very admirable and when combined with the extremely polite and helpful hospitality that was a theme throughout the booking process, our arrival on the day (where we were greeted by Mr Ruddy himself), on the first tee and throughout the service in the clubhouse, a day at the European makes for an extremely friendly and enjoyable golfing experience. However, something doesn't sit quite right - if you are going to distribute pamphlets on the simplicity and purity of this "true links" and mark out the tee boxes with simple wooden stakes and old stones then don't present me with huge marble plaques on some of the tees saying how "so and so" golf writer decided that this hole (the 7th) was in the Top 100 in the world or have cheesy hole dedications to some of the "game's greats" – it smacks of contradiction and frankly comes across as self-congratulatory. On top of this, whilst some of the shoreline holes are really special, the 120 yard green on the 12th adds nothing to an already exceptional golf hole and if anything, in the context of Mr Ruddy's philosophy, detracts from its enjoyment by turning the approach and putting elements into little more than a gimmick. This is a fantastic golf course but because the opening handful of holes have too much of a parkland feel and there is something not quite right in the set up, it cannot be considered a great links and should not be keeping the close company with magnificent courses like Lahinch, Sandwich and Waterville that it currently enjoys on these pages.
November 07, 2006
6 / 10
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Pat Ruddy
April 14, 2007
It is never comfortable answering nameless and faceless people.However, the writer is unfair when characterising one's love of the game and respect for the great champions one has known, by dedicating holes to them with their written permission/acceptance, as "cheesy". If it ain't "cheesy" elsewhere it ain't "cheesy" here.It is not "self-conratulatory" to draw attention to awards earned by our links. High rankings are generally well earned in most fields of endeavour, especially when they are held over many years and over several ranking endeavours in different countries, and we make no apology for displaying our awards no more than a Michelin restaurant would make no apology for hanging its stars.On the matter of the big green at 12 we will agree to differ. I love it and I hope that the nameless and faceless one will return someday and think it out.Pat Ruddy
Mick
September 06, 2007
Its a must. Easily the most difficult course I've ever played, and I havent even sniffed the back tees yet. Played the alliance a number of times over the winter, and on a nice day there's no better place to be. The stretch of holes from 10 through to 14 are stunning, especially the 11th, 12th and 13th. Other notable holes include the dogleg 5th and the spectacular 17th, both of which are considerably more appreciable than the course's most lauded hole, the brutish 7th. 7 is hard, thats all it is. Its a very intimidating drive, with a swamp down the left and a green that was not designed to accept long irons. It is hardly the best hole on the course, neither aesthetically nor strategically. As you'd expect the greens and fairways are pretty flawless (it IS a links), but I'd question the purpose of the wooden sleepers in the bunkers. Rather than make it more difficult to get out, they merely make the traps more hazardous to one's well being, since anything that's thinned will ricochet back at you with potentially lethal results. A quirk that does nothing for the course, as is the burn in front of the 18th, which, despite being an improvement on the lake that preceded it, still seems out of place. The par 3's are wonderful with no exceptions, especially the one after 12, which I've yet to play, since its the course's number 19 or 20. Hence on to the 21st. Many have complained in prior posts that the facilities and food are not up to scratch in the clubhouse. Well, itsrate the golf COURSE isnt it? Its a great track, Ballybunionesque, but with a ways to go before it can truly be compared to Kerry's finest.
Bernhard Koehler
One of the most exciting links courses I've ever played. A touch of Ballybunion or Tralee, but in much better condition. We played on a sunny but windy day, it was really hard, but it was so much fun. There are probably no weak holes, but the 7, 8, 10, 14, 17 and 18 are really great. In my opinion this course is much better than the more famous Portmarnock Old.
June 22, 2006
10 / 10
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kelly conway
I found The European Club a big let down. On arriving at the club, I found it completely lacking any ambience.On the golf course, there are clearly several fine holes on the back nine, bordering the Irish Sea. On the whole, however, I found the layout, routing and overall quality of the holes very mediocre.Kelly Conway
January 22, 2006
2 / 10
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Pat Ruddy
April 14, 2007
I'd get mad at Mr. Conway if I didn't know that he wrote rubbish about Waterville, too. He seems a fine example of the loud American. Perhaps he might layout his course design credentials?
Trent
August 15, 2007
Mr. Conway is way off the mark here. I played the European 3 years ago and I am coming back to play it on 8-28. I have played over 50 of the top 100 in the world and to date this is my favorite course that I have played.
Kelly Conway
November 08, 2007
Dear Mr. Ruddy, I am not a course designer but i know what I like: Royal Cinque Ports; North Berwick; Kingsbarns; Royal Aberdeen; Royal Dornoch; Western Gailes; Formby; Portmarnock; County Louth; Royal County Down, Portrush; Portstewart; Lahinch; The Island. I just did not think that The European Club measures up to these courses. Kelly Conway (The Loud American)
Kevin Powers
September 05, 2008
Ambience ? Perhaps you could attach a chandelier to your buggy. Might help you "go low".
James O Shea
January 08, 2011
Well put Mr Conway !
Billy

One of the most interesting and most exciting links courses I've ever had the pleasure to play. A touch of Ballybunion and a hint of the Glashedy course at Ballyliffin awaken the senses. The 20-hole layout pitches and rolls through and across some fabulous ground and the best holes hug Brittas Bay. We played here last week on a warm and sunny day and it was magical. It's a nice touch to see the plaques on various holes, especially the ones which were rated in the World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes, but I have to say that I think they got it wrong. There are far better holes here at the European than those selected by Mr Peper for his book. There is a need for the course to settle down and mature into what I think will be one of the greats. My only critisism is that the grass is a bit coarse in places and doesn't have the firm feel of old-fashioned links courses... come on rabbits, do your stuff! That said, hats off to the Ruddy's. Cracking course, great value and a warm welcome.

August 30, 2005
8 / 10
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Mo
August 30, 2007
Mr. Pat Ruddy. I am a FAN of yours. I just booked my tee time on your course for a quick weekend to play The Island, The European Club, Turnberry and Prestwick. However, I find your comment regarding "Loud Americans" very distasteful, disrespectful and offensive. WHy would you alienate the Americans who are probably your biggest clientelle? With that, I am looking to reconsider playing your course. You can take the compliments but not the critics. It's a GOLF course you will never make everyone happy, no one will ever play it the same way, the course is never the same day in and day out, the course will be different for everyone. Just take your ciritcs as they come, time and play of the course will be the true judge. Thank You.. plese see my course reviews at www.mygolfadventures.com
Cédric
We were expecting a great course and were not disappointed.Was indeed better than we thought!Perfect greens and fairways.No weak holes.Among them,the par 4 12th and its almost 100 m long green!A beautiful setting and lush vegetation with very penalising rough.Not much more to say.Great!!
June 15, 2005
10 / 10
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Andy N
One can be forgiven for thinkning that this course is in poor condiion after seeing the inadequate club facilities, but oh how wrong can one be! Winding its way amongst magnificent 30m high dunes this gem of a course provides the golfer with a stern test of accuracy and links technique. If the wind blows add at least 4 shots to your score and simply enjoy a setting that feels as far from reality as any course I know. When you eventually exit the dunes for views of the Irish Sea you will not regret making the trip. This course has a soul that is so often lost on today's courses. Pat Ruddy must be commended.
April 25, 2005
10 / 10
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Hugh
Surely the European is the most friendly and welcoming club on the planet? I have never received such a genuinely warm reception in all my travels and all of this was before the fun really started. I love this course and you must play all 20 holes, they are all memorable in their own right. The keyword here is excitement. Each and every time you stand on the tee it generates a thrill. This course is up there amongst my all time favourites...sheer delight..
February 15, 2005
8 / 10
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