It’s no Straits, that’s for sure. The Irish Course has bentgrass fairways and bluegrass rough, as opposed to the fescue found on the Straits Course. The fairways and greens are bigger by comparison as well, and more trees interspersed throughout, though most hole corridors are still very wide open. Because of its location on the backside of the artificial dunescape and views of the farmland to the west, in many places the Irish has more of a feel of a course like the Trophy Club or Birck Boilermaker (Kampen) in Indiana rather than one so close to Lake Michigan. On some holes, the routing feels as though it was wedged into place to complete another eighteen holes on the property, but that’s not to say there aren’t a ton of awesome holes out there.
Those awesome holes include: #4, a long dogleg left par four that is classic Dye – the closer one plays to the danger, the better angle to the green, #6, a cute little par three to an “island” green in the sand, #10, a long, uphill par four that starts a fantastic stretch of dune holes, #11, a long par three tucked between the dunes, #13, a semi-blind par three (depending on what tee you play) to a simply enormous green tucked in a valley between dunes, and #16, a long, mean par four with mounds and bunkers galore. I wasn’t a huge fan of the finishing two holes, especially #17, which felt extremely contrived because it had to fit into a weird corner of the property, but quite frankly most holes on the Irish are great ones.
Overall, I liked the Irish, but not as much as I liked the Straits. It didn’t play quite as firm and fast and as Dye probably intended, though it was still fairly new at the time I played it. What it did have was a nice variety of holes and landscapes despite playing second fiddle to the Straits. Certainly, I enjoyed playing Irish far more than I enjoyed playing Blackwolf Run. Since in my mind I had awarded Blackwolf Run (River) three and a half stars and rounded up, I will award Irish four and a half stars and round up as well.
Played June 30, 2001
Date: December 17, 2018