Ireland - St Margaret's Golf & Country Club, Dublin

IT’S always nice to revisit an old friend and see how they are getting on. So a return to St. Margaret's Golf and Country Club, acknowledged as one of Ireland's finest parkland courses, was something to look forward to...and I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a truly memorable and lovely course. The Irish PGA Championship, the Irish Seniors Open and Ladies British Open have all been to St Margaret s, a testimony to the design which comprises magnificent parkland with rolling hills and undulating greens with water hazards in a picturesque rural setting.

It s a favourite of Laura Davies, who won the Ladies Irish Open there in 1994 and 1995 and Sam Torrance said: "The 18th is the best finishing hole I have ever seen and possibly the strongest and most exciting in the world."

It is a joy to play because there are wide, forgiving fairways which is not to say you can blast it anywhere, because you will find trouble if you too wild off the tee - smashing par threes and great greens.

Two of the best holes on the front nine are the fourth, a long par four at 456 yards and the 525 yard par five eighth.

The fourth fairway is lined with gorse on the right and bunkers to the left while the eighth has water on the left from the tee and along the right side and front of the green.

The back nine are equally testing with the 12th, 16th and the 18th standing out. The 18th is one of the best with a large lake protecting the green, but it is the four par threes you will remember the most especially the fifth and the 13th.

St Margaret s stylish clubhouse features newly refurbished men's and lady's locker rooms and the practice facilities are unsurpassed with two driving ranges, one with indoor mats available for inclement weather, and two short game areas plus an 18 hole putting green.

Designed by Christy O Connor Jnr and opened in 1996, Mount Wolseley, a magnificent course is set in the Carlow countryside, is a real rival to St Margaret s.

With spectacular views across the Carlow Mountains, lakes and an undulating landscape, the course is an excellent test with the long third and shorter fourth, both with water on the right, real challenges as is the long par three sixth.

The 10th, 11th and 12th will spark thoughts of Augusta s Amen Corner all three have water to negotiate and the par three 11th is a beauty.

There are lots of doglegs, so there is some thinking to be done on the tee and 16, 17 and 18 again with water on the right of the dogleg, is a fine finish.

Mount Wolseley also has a luxury four star hotel featuring a sanctuary spa, leisure club with 20 metre pool.

Peter McEvoy is renowned for his inventive, and sometimes, radical course design and Seafield, a new course in Gorey is all of that.

At 6,557 yards the course has a front nine through mature woodland and water hazards of the front nine while the back nine down is much more open and has stunning cliff top tees on the 11th and 17th.

Many will find the par three ninth with water at the front and measuring 192 yards off the back tee, very testing while teeing off across part of someone s front garden and road at 16 will raise eyebrows and will have to be addressed.

There is a spectacular clubhouse and the hotel on site is equally impressive with all the facilities you d expect.

All three courses are within easy reach of Dublin and the Irish Ferries link from Holyhead and being that close to Ireland s capital, there s the chance to experience some fine restaurants such as the Fire Restaurant in the Mansion House in Dawson Street but the highlight of that side of the visit was a visit to the Merry Ploughboy Pub in Rathfamham where the entertainment was superb and the grub pretty good as well as it was in The Steakout Diner in Gorey and Fallon s Pub in Kilcullen.

Staying overnight in Mount Wolsey was a pleasure while the Ashdown Park Hotel in Gorey and the Clarion in Dublin was to see the best of Irish traditional hotels and the new 21st century approach.

But as always, it s really about the golf in Ireland and, at the time of writing, the green fees at Mount Wolseley ranged from 45 to 60 euros from Sundays to Thursdays depending on the time of year and from 60- 80 euros on Fridays and Saturdays.. Seafield starts at 45 euros and St Margaret s 40 to 60 euros weekdays for low and high season and 50 to 80 euros for weekend low and high season.

Add to these the offers that Irish Ferries put out from time to time and they can even arrange the accommodation then a trip to Dublin and the South-East is affordable.


St Margaret s Golf and Country Club, St Margaret s, County Dublin, Ireland, Tel: +353 1 864 0400; Fax: +353 1 864 0408;

Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa and Country Club, Tullow, County Carlow, Ireland, Tel: +353 059 91 80100;

Seafield Golf and Country Club, Ballmoney, Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland; Tel: +353 53 842 4777;

Ashdown Park Hotel, Church Road, Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland; Tel: +353 53 948 0500;

The Clarion Hotel, IFSC Dublin City, Ireland; Tel: +353 1 433 8800;

Fire Restaurant, Mansion house, Dawson St, Dublin; Tel: +353 1 676 7200;

The Steakout Diner, 50 Main St, Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland; Tel: +353 53 942 2104

The Merry Ploughboy Pub, Rockbrook, Rathfamham, Dublin 16; Tel: +353 1 493 1495;

Tourism Ireland, Nations House, 103 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1QS; Tel: 020 7518 0813

Consumer Information: 0800 039 7000.

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