Monday, December 24, 2018

The Golf Course at Adare Manor Review - Part 2

The Pro Shop
For Part 1, click here

Adare's Extras

There are plenty of them. Here are just a few: 
  • All range balls are Titleist Pro V1s. (No slipping a few into your bag… you hear!)
  • Wiring has been laid around the course for tournament power, media and telecommunications. I can’t think why!
  • Elsewhere, upgrades to the resort include an expansive ballroom with capacity for 350 guests, a spa, pool and relaxation area, a cinema and a boardroom. A new wing with 42 guestrooms has increased the room total to 104. 
  • A complete redesign of the golf clubhouse, by David Collins Studio London, is another layer of icing on the cake. 
  • Check out the taps in the bathrooms.
  • You receive a bronze bag tag from the Starter, which has your name engraved on it (see Part 1 for image). It all creates that air of exclusivity and aspiration.

The Golf Course at Adare Manor

As discussed in Part 1, the greens are a definite highlight. No matter if you are on the fairway or well off target the greens are always visible and nearly always intimidating. Even head-on you won’t always have a straightforward approach as it’s not just the usual things (bunkers, water, tricky pin positions) you have to worry about… those run-offs will test your patience if you go sliding off too many.  
The par three 11th
Elevation changes around Adare are minimal but new fairway shaping and angles and heights of greens make it feel like there is much more to it. All the same, little is hidden from view. Only your second shot on the 9th will be cause for concern as the bunkering over the ridge is not visible.
Bunkers are big, white and obvious. They’re not brutally tough but their visibility makes them daunting as you stand on the tee.
Variety of hole lengths keeps things interesting and the par four 15th shows the difficulties posed by the shortest par four as it curves around the River Maigue. There are four tees: Gold (7,509y), White (6,505y), Green (5,860y) and Red (5,120y). We played off White.
  • Par threes vary between 151 and 183 yards.
  • Par fours vary between 277 (15th) and 412 (8th) yards.
  • Par fives vary between 492 and 568 yards.

The short par four 15th at Adare
The left side of the 15th green with hotel beyond and bunker in front.
There’s a little bit of trickery right at the start. The stream in front of the 1st green and the way that 1st green looks makes for a thoroughly daunting approach. But you’ve been fooled… what you’re seeing are the run-offs that stretch all the way to the stream’s edge. It’s very clever and you have to trust your distances. It is one of the tamest greens here… but it doesn’t take long for that to change.
The 1st green... which isn't necessarily green!
It is also worth noting that when you reach the final par three – the 16th – you will face three very different holes depending on the pin position. The green runs at a slight diagonal, above the lake: if the pin is front left then you’re playing a hole of 120 yards; if it’s back right then the hole becomes 180 yards. Quite a difference, no!
As for the acclaimed sub air systems, these are visible around a few greens. The units (green) are well away from putting surfaces but rarely hidden. Go take a look. 

How Was It For You?

It’s pretty obvious from all of the above that I found Adare to be a magnificent golfing experience… 
... and yet!
For me, the old Adare had charm and a vibrancy that came from the corridors of trees, so embracing, so colourful, so threatening. The old par four 13th was widely regarded as Adare’s best hole and, interestingly, it is the most similar to its old self in the new design. As such it remains my favourite hole because of the depth and isolation provided by the trees.
Approach to the new 13th.
Approach to the old 13th at Adare.
There’s no question that the new course – officially known as ‘The Golf Course at Adare Manor’ – is a spectacular creation but, for me, it lacks the soul and colour of old. 
Is it a better course? 
That depends on your point of view. The new version is easier from tee to green as so many trees have been removed and there is no rough to speak of. Losing a ball shouldn’t be a problem (water features excepted) so that makes it much more playable than before (the 9th fairway is as much as 85 yards wide). On the other hand, the greens now take centre stage in so many ways and unless you are a supreme short game genius this is where the biggest challenges lie.
The 9th fairway
The old Adare had a romance to it. The new Adare has a clinical and clean-cut professional edge that lifts it to new heights – as has been seen in annual Top 100 rankings already – but, in my opinion, it has lost some of its charm. For Adare's global target audience, however, that will mean little as the visitors will flock here to enjoy an all-round five star luxury experience.
The brand new Irish Golfer Magazine top 100 rankings have placed Adare as the third best course in Ireland. That’s quite the statement!

Adare Green Fees

Eye watering. The tagline of the resort is ‘Beyond Everything’. At €340, plus a mandatory caddie (€55), that price is beyond most golfers. Not that Adare will mind: they are not after your typical golfer and this is all about the big spenders, the type of golfer who doesn’t need to ask what the green fee is. And, as someone pointed out to me recently, €340 is still well below what a lot of American golf courses charge.
Even so, wow! 90 per cent of Irish golfers are never going to play here. I think that’s a shame but then €200 green fees at our world-class links are also beyond most Irish golfers... and a premium product demands a premium price.
Adare is pursuing a different level of clientele... and there's little doubt they'll get it.

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