Monday, June 11, 2012

Inside the Ropes – Druid’s Glen

Druid’s Glen, in early summer, is a course lush and green. At this time of year there is colour and wildlife everywhere – it vibrates with the intensity of it and it is a glorious opportunity to experience one of Ireland’s best parklands, which was home to the Irish Open between 1996 and 1999 (won by Colin Montgomerie twice, David Carter and Sergio Garcia, who shot a 64 in the final round).

But what about an amateur’s perspective. Inside the ropes it’s a different ball game entirely. About to find out were three lads who had never played the course before: 

Chris off 15, Pete, playing off 24 and Pat off 12.

[The lads on the 12th tee box]

Here’s what they had to say about their day.

Q. What are your overall impressions of the course?
Pete: Beautiful course. If I was looking to impress a client I would take them for a round here.
Chris: Excellent, very well kept.
Pat: Loved it. Not just a driver all day. The scenery was beautiful for an inland course and I couldn’t wait to see around the next corner as it was my first visit – but will make a big effort to come back.

Q. What are the course’s best features?
Druid’s Glen boasts an ‘Augusta-like air’ with its rhododendrons and charming water features, but all three lads were taken by something else:

[Photo: Pat's tee shot on the lethal par three 17th]

Pete: The par threes were brilliant, and the 18th was a lovely finishing hole.
Chris: The views, the beautiful par threes and the emphasis on accuracy over length. Greens are perfect and consistent.
Pat: Definitely the par threes. The 12th is every bit as beautiful as people say, and Index 1, the 13th, is a brilliant par four.

Our encounter with the 13th did not go particularly well, with four balls finding the lake short of the green. It's a brute of a hole, and the best score was a double bogey 6.

[Photo: Chris putts up the 13th green - the lake behind proving a magnet]

Q. Any negatives – either on or off the course?
Pete: One or two of the bunkers were stoney. It’s a very tough course for a high handicap golfer like myself.
Chris: Practice facilities – the range is too far away.
Pat: Greens were just a bit off perfect.

Q. What did you find particularly tough?
Always a difficult question because it can be handicap, weather and performance dependent. The responses pretty much covered it all:
Pete: Some tight fairways, and greens were hard to read and stop the ball on.
Chris: It was hard off the tee.
Pat: Reading the breaks on some of the greens

Q. How did you find the condition of the course? Anything stand out?
Pete: The condition was excellent. The water features around the par threes really stand out.
Chris: The greens were perfect.
Pat: Tee boxes and fairways were perfect, with bunkers in perfect positions. Greens were slightly slow but very true.

The differing comments about the greens is an interesting one and clearly depends on personal preferences. When this was put to Druid's Glen, they explained that maintenance work (pole-forking) was carried out two weeks ago, and that the greens were just coming back into proper shape for the summer.

Q. What do you think of the facilities?
Pete: Excellent. Changing rooms had nice touches (hair gel and shaving blades available). Practice area was a bit far away.
Chris: Apart from the distance to the practice range, everything was spot on.
Pat: The clubhouse is lovely.

Druid’s Glen is renowned for its attractive 18th century clubhouse (Woodstock House) and the bar is as relaxing a place to wind down after a round as anywhere. The practice range is not close by and you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time if you want to head down and hit a few balls before your round. The range is down by the entrance, next to the 16th tee.

Q. How easy to find?
All three commented on the good signage and how easy it was to find.

[Photo: the par three 12th, green to tee - and where the million euro hole-in-one shot was to be held the following week]

Q. Final comments?
Pete: Really enjoyable round. Will play again, but at €65 it would have to be a special event.
Chris: A great course with some beautiful holes, particularly the par threes. Some courses would be lucky to have even one of the par threes.
Pat: Probably now my favourite course in Ireland

Rating out of 10
Pete: 8
Chris: 9
Pat: 9, but would have been 10 if greens had been perfect
TOTAL 26/30

Value for money out of 10
Pete: 6
Chris: 8
Pat: 8
TOTAL 24/30
(Pete's a tough man to please!)

[Photo: Handshakes on the 18th green]

Druid's Glen Details:
Located between Newtownmountkennedy and Kilcoole in County Wicklow, Druid's Glen is part of the Druid's Glen Resort. Pitched as five star, the hotel sits next to the second course - Druid's Heath - and comes with leisure centre/swimming pool, with various spa treatments also available. Special packages are nearly always available.

Green Fees at Druid's Glen range between €40 and €95 during the summer months. Druid's Heath green fees range from €35 to €55.

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