Friday, April 23, 2021

Druids Heath Dances to a Different Beat

Anyone who has a copy of Hooked only has to turn to the entry on Druids Heath to know I’m not the course’s biggest fan. Druids Glen, absolutely… Druids Heath less so. It’s a course I’ve always felt was difficult just for the sake of being difficult. Rippled fairways hide much of what lies ahead, the big and numerous bunkers are everywhere, gorse appears often and the sprawling greens are some of the most lethal you’ll encounter in this country. It has been designed as a hybrid of traits, combining heathland, parkland and links into a challenging round of golf. Talk to anyone who has played it and, as complimentary as they might be, there’s bound to be an element of battle fatigue too.

I’ve played it several times and that’s certainly how I feel. Don’t get me wrong, there are strong and attractive holes here and a good rhythm within the layout… but it’s not the most relaxing affair.


That though is about to change as the resort has issued a press release spelling out the major changes to be made to the course this year. At the top of the list is a massive reduction in the number of bunkers. 


Here’s the press release:


The Neville Family, as owners of Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort are pleased to announce a significant investment into Druids Heath Golf Course will take place from this April, in advance of further investment and renovations to Druids Glen Golf Course in 2022.

Since purchasing Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort in 2019, the Neville family has committed to reviewing all aspects of the golf business to ensure that correct decisions are made for the future success of a high-quality golf experience for members and guests in the resort.

To assist the owners in these long-term ambitions for golf, they have liaised with some of the golf industry’s leading experts during this review process; Jeff Lynch - Golf Course Architect with (re)GOLF DESIGN working in conjunction with renowned Course Designer, Peter McEvoy and John Clarkin of world renowned agronomists, Turfgrass.

“Peter McEvoy & (re)GOLF are delighted to be working with the Neville Family in Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort with the renovation of Druids Heath. Already a fabulous layout, we are re-landscaping the existing bunker footprint (over 30,000m2), adopting a more Handcrafted bunker and Landform layout, each with their own individual function and character, while maintaining diverse strategic values which engage golfers of all abilities.

Parallel with this, as the great Jack Nicklaus stated, what makes a successful golf course “Drainage, Drainage, Drainage” we are incorporating over 28,000m of drainage across 15 sections of the course”.

“Turfgrass are delighted to work with the Neville Family and (re)Golf Design on the renovation of Druids Heath. As Project Managers, our goal from the outset is to improve playability and reduce the level of difficulty for high handicappers without compromising stroke index, health or safety.

Working with Jeff Lynch & Peter McEvoy, we have drastically reduced unnecessary bunker area and relocated bunkers, grass hollows and runoff areas to maintain the strategy of the course. The bunker renovation will give Druids Heath a new identity. In addition, a large scale drainage programme will commence as part of the works programme on selected holes.”

Upon completion of this investment plan, the greenkeeping team will continue to build on the good work already completed on the course since July 2019. The approach is very much to preserve all that makes Druids Heath the wonderful course that it has been and will be again.

Druids Glen Golf Course and the historic clubhouse, Woodstock House are part of a further investment plan in 2022.

The course will be upgraded to return Druids Glen to the pinnacle of Irish Golf with the owners’ ambition to bring back Championships tournaments such as the Irish Open. While the renovation will not be a complete course redesign, the key natural features of the course will be retained and enhanced through the programme of works to ensure that the history and magic of Druids Glen is maintained while upgrading the course to championship standard.

The existing facilities at Woodstock House, will be upgraded along with the addition of a new members clubhouse, housing new male and female changing rooms, bar and dining facilities and a new pro-shop and café area. The development will also include the provision of luxurious sleeping accommodation.

I very much look forward to seeing the changes and how it alters the course’s DNA and its playability. It will certainly single out the greens as the course’s core defence… while also making them that much more accessible to golfers of all abilities. That can only be a good thing and will also bring in one essential 'links' element... the art of bump-and-run. Good luck to all involved.


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