Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort is located about a 40-minute drive to the west of Dublin and the course is draped across part of the 550-acre Balyna Estate where the historic Balyna House – a gorgeous 19th century Italianate mansion – provides a magnificent backdrop.
Andy Newmarch caught up with Rob Coles shortly after his win at Moyvalley and asked him a few questions:
Darren Clarke worked with Tim Lobb when he was with European Golf Design to create a tournament golf course at Moyvalley, which has already played host to the 2009 Challenge of Ireland tournament, an event on the European Challenge Tour. England’s Robert Coles claimed the title on a course with creeping bent grass greens that are among the very best surfaces in Europe.
“I’m especially delighted with the greens,” commented Clarke on his first foray into golf course design, “which are among the best putting surfaces in the country. We created gentle slopes which will make players think about where to place their approach shots, especially when the greens are fast or in windy conditions.” Moyvalley opened for play in 2007 and the course is already considered to be one of the best modern tracks in the Dublin area.
If you are looking for tradition then steer clear of Moyvalley, but if you are seeking a challenging and strategic test on a golf course with truly outstanding playing surfaces, then look no further. A parallel exists between Moyvalley and The Grove in England. Each course is topographically challenged with little in the way of elevation change but each course has been nicely shaped, is a real test and is perfectly manicured.
As with many open country courses, Moyvalley relies on swaying fescue grass for its definition and you can expect a windy test. The free-draining site is open and exposed and the wind whips across the 7,370-yard layout which routed in two 9-hole loops that return to a stunning clubhouse that boasts panoramic views across the courses from three sides.
There are a number of good holes at Moyvalley but none is better than the incredible 602-yard closing hole that is surrounded by water. It requires a precise approach shot to a pristine green that is jealously guarded by a lake to the left and a huge anvil-shaped bunker to the right.
In November 2015 it was announced that Christy O’Connor Jnr has been appointed to upgrade and develop the course at Moyvalley. One of the first things on the Irish golfing legend’s plan is to plant two specimen oak trees on the opening holes as a signature feature, then the course will be re-branded “Twin Oaks”. No doubt further changes will be announced in due course, otherwise this upgrade could be nothing more than blarney.
I have played the course 3 times now and enjoy it so much I am thinking of becoming a member.The course is as other reviewers have noted relatively featureless in terms of hills and trees and has been styled as an ‘inland links’. This doesn’t mean it is easy though. The rough is evil and quite often a wayward ball is a lost ball. My last visit there was for a works golf society outing and the staff could not do enough. The manager went out and set up both furthest drives and nearest the pin markers and offered to bring out another golfer who was running late to whichever tee we were on when he turned up. That is what I call customer service!The practice putting area and chipping areas are right next to the first tee. The course starts with a relatively easy looking par 4 dog leg left before a tricky par 3 … but you can always look on the website for a course description so I won’t describe every hole. I don’t think there are any boring holes on the course and there a few outstanding ones. The 4th a par 4 a dog leg left with bunkers waiting to punish anything slightly wayward, the 6th a long par 4 with water to clear from the tee and water all down the left. The long 8th with water all around the back and front left of the green and the 10th with the lone horse chestnut tree to the front right is very picturesque.The long 13th has some amazing bunkers protecting it.However the 16th, 17th and 18th and the best closing 3 I have played on any course. The 16th is a dog leg left with water down the left the entire length of the hole. The 17th is a par 3 with water all around the back to prevent anyone over hitting the ball from escaping. Then the 18th… A long, long par 5. A drive and then a decision do you go left, lay up and have a tricky approach over the water or follow the course round and take the full 3 shots before an easier green shot.The clubhouse has fantastic views of the course from all sides and is very plush with great locker rooms too.
Moyvalley has been voted onto Golf Digest’s Ireland Top 100 for the last two years and it’s big Darren’s first layout. Let’s be honest, the land is not very exciting from an elevation change perspective but it was originally set up as part of the Champions Club stable. This is no ordinary venue, no expense has been spared both on and off the course but the credit crunch caught up with the concept and it’s now effectively a reasonably priced pay and play. The course is not inspiring but its greens were among the best I've seen in Ireland and that really is saying something. When we played here last month it was a treat, with rough swathed with tall, swaying fescue grass and simply outstanding playing surfaces, especially the greens. For me the back nine is the most interesting, but no holes should really be described as dull. A few holes are certainly more forgettable than most but for me the course really comes alive on the back nine and ends with a jaw dropping crescendo on the last. It was a blisteringly hot sunny day and the craic was good so I kind of enjoyed the rather surreal Moyvalley. If the staff can continue to maintain the truly incredible greens, then this course will remain worthy of playing. However if it doesn’t remain in great condition, then Moyvalley will soon become a nice but rather expensive pay and play.