Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Golf Course at Adare Manor Review - Part 1

There's so much to say about this 'new' course in Co. Limerick, that I've divided the review into two parts. Here's Part 1.
Your first glimpse of the course will be the back of the
9th green as you walk to the Starter's Hut.
Adare Manor re-opened its course with a grand launch earlier this year. Four of Ireland’s golfing superstars (McIlroy, Harrington, McGinley, Lowry) turned it into a perfect media circus on what was the most glorious of Irish summer days. Millions upon millions of euro have been pumped into the hotel, the grounds and the golf course. Watching on the TV, it wasn’t difficult to see how it had been spent.

To say the golf course looked amazing is an understatement. Every blade of grass was perfectly

presented, every green looked like Van Gogh had painted it, every fairway was striped to precision. The praise from those in attendance was gushing.

‘Best in Europe.’ ‘Future Ryder Cup Venue.’ ‘Greens as good as Augusta.’

The future of The Golf Course at Adare Manor and the five star resort is assured and that is all thanks to the vision and finance of JP McManus.
The new green on the par three 6th has changed the hole's
challenges entirely.
So… just how good is it?
I played it in October when you’d think the course would be starting to fade and look a bit autumn/winter-worn. Not a bit of it.
The amount of money invested has ensured the conditioning here is immaculate. There are sub-air systems under every green – including the practice green – which allows greenkeepers to manage the exact moisture content and have the exact same speeds on each putting surface. The amount of sand used on the course (some 200,000 tonnes) has ensured good drainage and exceptional playing conditions all year round.
I was genuinely surprised when I found a spot of mud on my ball on the 2nd hole. That’s how high my expectations were!
Every guest receives a personalised, engraved bag tag.
Tom Fazio did the redesign and while the routing of Adare is unchanged, what golfers encounter on the course is very different. A lot of the land’s shape has been altered but the most noticeable elements are the greens, the bunkering… and the trees.
Thousands of trees have been removed and this has been done for specific reasons:
1.    Remove non-native species;
2.    Open up the course and make it easier to see the stunning hotel from different holes;
3.    Improve the course’s playability;
4.    Speed up play.
New trees have, however, been planted and these are of the big variety. You won’t find any 10 foot, staked youngsters here. We’re talking 30 foot trees secured by cables on four sides. And those trees are located very specifically.
Bridges across the River Maigue have been replaced, the rough has practically vanished, all of the bunkers, all of the fairways, all of the tees, all of the greens are brand spanking new. 
Approach to the par five 9th with the magnificent manor/hotel behind.

Green with Envy
And it is the greens that undoubtedly grab the headlines with their serpentine shapes and mesmerising array of run-offs. Are these the best quality greens in Ireland? I doubt you’ll hear anyone arguing with that, especially when you consider their quality and the sub-air technology… a technology that is employed by only a handful of courses worldwide. Now add in the resort’s 56 green keepers and you can see how such definition and devotion is possible. Every green is hand-cut… meticulously.
The same is true of the run-offs around the greens. To be honest, these are as good as most greens elsewhere and there are 12,500 sq metres of them to be hand-mown every day. I can guarantee you this: you will find yourself playing off these surfaces throughout the day and you will therefore be faced with shots that are as inspiring as they are challenging. Putt it, lob it, pitch-and-run it. The choice is yours… and if you get up and down, be sure to let me know because you’re a genius!
The Designer
Tom Fazio is now in his 70s. He commands a pretty penny for his design work (original and restoration) and his name is associated with many of the biggest courses in North America. Think Augusta, Pine Valley and Oak Hill. In Ireland, his only other work is at Waterville where he took Eddie Hackett’s design and worked some magic into it.
The par three 16th
He has done the same here, although on a much grander scale. Robert Trent Jones Senior designed Adare back in 1995… Tom Fazio has ‘reimagined’ it.
In situations like this it is both useful and important to understand the golf architect’s design philosophy. In his book Golf Course Designs (published in 2000), Fazio wrote:
If there is a special craft to designing golf holes, it might be a knack for creating proper spaces along the routes of play that encourage enthusiasm and feelings for the game.” 

I look at Waterville and see a links that is picture-perfect. It has an aesthetic quality that makes the holes look almost as if they have been painted… and that is true at Adare, too. Holes are defined by sinuous, flowing contours that reach beyond the individual holes and into the landscape. Perhaps that is one reason why so many trees were removed: they interrupted the flow of the course as one collective organism.

The back of the 18th green in panorama.
Facts & Figures:
It has taken two and a half years – give or take – to get the course to where it is now. The clubhouse burning down in 2017, days before the planned August opening, was a disaster of sorts but it also allowed the course to settle in all the more.
So here are some eye-watering statistics about the work that took place:
-      200,000 tonnes of sand were used on the course… of which64,000 tonnes went beneath the rough.Under every fairway is 9 inches of sand. Under every green that increases to 12 inches.
-      72,000 linear metres of drainage installed
-      50,000 kilograms of seed on the greens, tees, fairways and rough
-      12,500m2 of Pure Distinction creeping bent seed sod 
-      2,700m2 of increased size in the greens
-      1,215 sprinklers
-      840 acres make up the Adare Manor Resort 
-      85 yards wide… that’s the width of the 9th fairway
-      82 brand new tees (all hand-mown)
-      79 hectares of cut grass 
-      56 green keepers 
-      44 bunkers constructed with the latest Capillary Concrete liner drainage technology, containing 3,000 tonnes of bunker sand… which was chosen by none other than Padraig Harrington!
-      19 new bridges over the River Maigue

End of Part 1 - For Part 2, click here.

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