John Daly, double Major winner and one of golf’s most colourful players, was in Blarney, Co Cork yesterday to finalise plans for the new Blarney Golf Resort championship course which he designed in conjunction with Mel Flanagan of Irish Golf Design.
The course will be situated in Tower, less than three miles from Blarney. It will measure in excess of 7,000 yards from the championship tees – although Daly is quick to emphasise that a selection of different tees will ensure its playability for golfers of all standards. Work on the course began at the beginning of July. The opening is planned for late 2005.
The Daly signature course will form the centrepiece of Blarney Golf Resort, which will also contain a 63-bedroom leisure hotel, business centre and 56 two-bedroom apartments. Already a number of the apartments have been sold.
The entire complex is situated on 164 acres in the beautiful Shournagh Valley, a location that features 40 acres of protected forest and a series of Standing Stones, which enhance the Celtic atmosphere of the area.
The co-designers have made the most of the natural beauty of the wonderful location. As co-designer Mel Flanagan puts it, “The site had many natural holes waiting to be discovered. The challenge was to find these holes rather than impose anything unnatural on such a wonderful piece of land.”
Both men are convinced that the course they have come up with has done just that. The course consists of two, nine hole loops, with water coming into play on both the 9th and the 18th thus creating spectacular views from the clubhouse.
The greens are of a classic design featuring support mounding and heavy bunkering. The greens will be to US PGA standard and are to be seeded with Penn A4 grass. The rough is Aurora Gold.
Ironically Daly’s favourite is the short par 3 thirteenth. Here the tee is set deep into the habitat. It plays across the natural wetland to a raised green surrounded by mature gorse.
Mel Flanagan’s favourite is the seventeenth – a par 5 that is certainly a John Daly special. The tee shot is a classic risk/reward situation and while birdies beckon the risk on every shot is high. This hole also offers some of the best views of the course.
The Blarney course is Daly’s first venture into golf design in Europe. Previously he has co-designed Wicked Stick in South Carolina.
Mel Flanagan, of Irish Golf Design has designed and built courses in Ireland, England and in mainland Europe. His work includes Forest Hills in London, St Oswald near Linz and the much-heralded Rathcore Golf Club in Meath. He is collaborating with Nick Faldo on Bartragh Island in Mayo and Lough Rynn in Mohill.
The entire project is the brainchild of local developer John Kelly and his partner Dubliner Frank McCarthy who are confident they have a real winner on their hands.
“We are delighted to have John on board. We are confident that John’s many fans will want to play this unique course, as indeed will the many golfers who have been thrilled by his flamboyant style. And we guarantee they won‘t be disappointed. The course will definitely reflect John’s extravagant game.”
Daly himself is excited about the project. The big attraction for him was the Irish location. “Ireland is renowned worldwide for its great golf courses so when I was invited to become involved in Blarney it was an offer I couldn‘t turn down. What we want to achieve at Blarney is a course that reflects how I feel about the game. It is going to have something for all players. A real championship test but also somewhere where you can have fun.”
John Daly www.gripitandripit.com
Irish Golf Design www.irishgolfdesign.com