Situated in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, Powerscourt Estate is one of the most fantastic properties in all of Ireland. The 13th century castle built by the Power family was turned into a magnificent mansion by Richard Wingfield in 1731 when the north end was changed to present a grand frontage with the southern side facing the extensive gardens which were created over the next decade.
In more recent times, the Slazenger family – creators of the sporting goods empire – acquired the Powerscourt Estate in the early 1960s. The modern day Powerscourt doesn’t only attract visitors to its wonderful House and gardens, though. Two golf courses were constructed in 1996 and 2003 and they have been pulling in the punters in equally large numbers for over a decade since then.
The East course, designed by Peter McEvoy, was the first course to open and it set the standard for golfing excellence at Powerscourt with a stunning parkland 18-hole layout that was good enough to host the Irish PGA Championship in 1998.
The West course was created by DMK Golf Design – whose founder, David McLay Kidd, was the man responsible for designing the much-acclaimed Bandon Dunes in Oregon and Queenwood in Surrey – and opened for play seven years after the East.
Powerscourt West is a traditional parkland track that maximises the natural assets of mature trees, lakes and stunning views. As the architect Kidd says, the intention was to create a challenging course “but to do so in a fashion that allowed the occasional golfer to have fun without being beaten up. The fairways have quite a bit of width and the greens are a little larger than usual.”
The signature hole on the 6,980-yard West course is the 577-yard par five 16th which plays as a slight left dog leg with massive cross bunkers in the fairway to catch errant second shots.
Sometimes you get to courses by accident and this was the case for Me as I was trying to play another one but a busy Sunday made it impossible. And with the help of my local friend Sean a round at this great McLay Kidd design was part of my trip.
Mr DMK has a great reputation and has created some of the world’s best like Bandon Dunes, Mammoth Dunes, Castle Course at St Andrews and more and due to this reputation I was keen to see Powerscourt.
Not the typical piece of land DMK will love but an amazing property gave place to a fantastic course. Just take into account this: it is extremely tough to come play in Ireland and get your game standing for 6-7 days on the toughest courses in sometimes demanding climatic conditions so a “break” on a course like this, wide open off the tee and with the challenge in the greens and pin positions with a breathtaking piece of land then you will understand why courses like this are well worth a visit.
Put all this together: Late November, 8am tee time, 2C freezing sunny day, some wind, course with the autumn colors in bloom and 2 great irish playing partners, what can go wrong? And if you add the imagination of a guy like DMK then you will get to a course not to be bypassed!
There is variety as well, challenge, level changes, some forests, water coming into play, the need of working the ball both ways and a hot putter not only to make the 5 footers but also to get it to 5ft when you putt from 60ft after missing the correct tier of the green and when speed of them is quite good as well.
Holes to highlight? The finishing stretch 15-18 is maybe the best having a short 4 with a two tier green, then a tough 5 where you need to carry huge bunkers with the second shot, then an elevated tee 3 tough to judge correct distance and an affordable 5 to finish with all the danger on the left.
It will be unfair for Powerscourt GC than many golfers will maybe never ever hear about it but if you come to a chance of playing it, just do it!