This modern-day links offers a superb golfing experience that mixes fun and challenge with more than a hint of quirkiness in places
The European Club Course Review
Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 19
Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 18 2017/18 - 19 2015/16 - 20 2013/14 - 17 2011/12 - 14 2009/10 - 15
Summer Green Fees
Visitor Times: Any day but not before 10am on Sundays
Medal Tee: Par 71 – 6,720 Yards
Website: www.theeuropeanclub.com (opens in new tab)
Changes since previous ranking
A new back tee on the 9th has extended the hole from 429 yards to 465 yards for championship play. This has also allowed the former yellow tee on the 9th to become a new championship tee on the 11th, extending that hole by 25 yards to 413 yards.
The European Club Course Review
Back in the 1980s, Irish golf writer and golf course architect, Pat Ruddy was determined to have a golf course of his own.
Perhaps fearing that the scope to develop classic linksland into little pieces of golfing heaven would only diminish over time, he set out on a helicopter reconnaissance mission in 1987 to find the perfect spot.
Related: Top 100 golf courses UK and Ireland
The fruits of that mission turned out to be Brittas Bay in County Wicklow, and six years later, dream became reality when his European Club opened for play there.
This is a course where glorious sea views and distinctive sleepered bunkers abound, and where the emphasis is very much on fun, despite the course being more than capable of testing the very best, as it did when hosting the Irish PGA Championship for three years from 2007. Padraig Harrington won them all!
It ranks very near the top when it comes to the best golf courses in Ireland.
The extra holes
On the topic of fun, the widening of the fairways in recent years has enhanced that element for many, and there are also a few quirky touches that speak to the creator’s character and make things just a little bit different here.
For a start, there are two cracking extra par 3s at 7a and 12a which you are more than welcome to play most days. Then there’s the tongue-in-cheek 127-yard-long 12th green that sends the potential for misclubbing into a whole new dimension.
The long and testing 7th, flanked by reeds and imposing dunes, has achieved worldwide renown and takes you down to a run of five memorable holes set along or close to the beach, among them the head-turning par-3 14th, with its well-bunkered plateau green nestling in the dunes.
Ruddy’s dream was to build a glorious links playground of his own, and golfers everywhere should be eternally grateful that he took to the skies in 1987 to fulfil that dream.
This is a bucket list course for the links purist. Pat Ruddy is an architectural historian.
Pat Ruddy has created a masterpiece here, a truly unique and brilliant course.
Some of the slightly eccentric design aspects reflect Pat Ruddy’s character and sense of humour. They may not be to everyone’s liking but are good fun and a good test of golf.
This modern-day links offers a superb golfing experience that mixes fun and challenge with more than a hint of quirkiness in places.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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