Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort is located on the shores of Blessington Lakes in County Wicklow. The championship golf course is laid out on a 200-acre estate that also contains a restored 18th century Manor House – built in 1760 on the ruins of the old Tulfarris Castle – and early Christian burial grounds preserved under the mounds of the 10th and 12th fairways.
Originally opened in 1989 as a 9-hole course on a 60-acre site, Jim Hayes acquired the property in 1993 and soon after appointed golf course architect Patrick Merrigan to extend the number of holes to eighteen. Merrigan – renowned for his design work on other courses such as Faithlegg, Old Head of Kinsale, Slieve Russell and Woodenbridge – advised that he could do little until Hayes acquired additional land to make his dream a reality. Needless to say, by the end of the millennium, more real estate had been acquired, the course was reconstructed and the new Tuffarris reborn.
It is now routed over three peninsulas of Blessington Lakes and can be played from a variety of tees giving a total length of between 5,705 and 7,116 yards. As owner Jim Hayes says, “all is changed and nothing is changed. The integrity of the landscape and the environment have been preserved.” Merrigan too is pretty pleased with the final outcome of his work, saying, “I think the finished article stands alongside the best golf course to be found anywhere. The natural beauty of the setting is awesome.”
The course is configured in classical formation with two par fives and two par threes on each loop of nine holes. Water endangers the approach to the green at a handful of holes on both the front and back nine so these hazards, allied to strategic bunkering and length off the tee demanded at most holes – even the par threes are all in excess of 170 yards off the back tees – will keep most net scores above the par of 72 for the course.
The 608-yard, par five, 7th hole is a favourite of many on the outward half, with the tee shot played out over a lake to a fairway that doglegs right to a well-trapped green. On the inward nine, the 200-yard, par three, 16th hole demands a precise tee shot to avoid a lake and some protecting oak trees to make the green.