Tom Doak fulfils a dream to build an Irish links

Tom Doak fulfils a dream to build an Irish links course

We’ve recently learned of Renaissance Golf Design’s involvement in the proposed new St Patrick’s Golf Links next to the Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Donegal, Ireland.

Tom Doak completed a routing proposal for the course in 2018 and his company constructed two greens last summer as a first step on the path to full development of the site.

AirSwing Media view of the St Patrick's property

AirSwing Media view of the St Patrick's property

Eric Iverson, who was involved with improvements to the Strand Nine at Rosapenna a decade ago, is to oversee the project and George Helly, a Donegal man with previous experience at Bandon Dunes and Tara Iti, has been hired as the first course superintendent.

The intention now is to continue with the remainder of the groundworks, finishing most of these preparations by the end of this year. Hopefully, there could be some limited preview play in place by the end of 2020 but there’s no firm timetable in place.

Indeed, after almost forty years of investment, the Casey family – owners of both Rosapenna and St Patrick’s – are under no pressure whatsoever to rush things unnecessarily.

They purchased Rosapenna in 1981, investing heavily since then in both the hotel and a highly-regarded 45-hole golf facility that can trace its roots all the way back to 1892, when Old Tom Morris pegged out the initial golf course on the property.

Architect Eddie Hackett and former Royal County Down assistant professional Joanne O’Haire each designed the two 18-hole courses on adjacent land at St Patrick's more than twenty years ago and these were due to be renovated by Nicklaus Design in 2005 before the global recession put paid to those plans.

Seven years later, the Caseys stepped in to acquire the 370-acre site and they have wisely bided their time before choosing the right moment, with the right people, to upgrade this expansive tract of duneland.

When the Doak-designed St Patrick’s links is brought into play, Sheephaven Bay’s stature as a major golf destination is certain to be further enhanced, offering itself as a serious alternative to more traditional venues further down the west coast of the Emerald Isle.