This week’s Nissan Irish Open is being played over the course that Colin Montgomerie designed in conjunction with European Golf Design at Carton House Golf Club, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland. It will be the first time that Montgomerie has played a tournament over a course that he designed himself and he describes it as the biggest honour he has received in the game.
‘The Montgomerie‘ course is the second of two courses at the Kildare venue, the first having been designed by former Open and Masters Champion Mark O‘Meara. Despite being in a parkland setting, the 7,300 yard course nevertheless holds true to the philosophy of a traditional links course, featuring rolling fairways, gently undulating greens as well as steep faced, deep and cavernous bunkers.
“It has a bit of everything.” said Montgomerie. “The par threes are excellent, on the short par fours the greens are at a bit of an angle, and the par fives are just out of range. I would say it is an ideal, modern, links golf course.
“To play a big European Tour event like the Nissan Irish Open on a course I have designed is fantastic. Whether I play poorly or whether I play well, I am going to enjoy the week and I look forward to talking to the other players about the course and seeing what they feel about it.
“Under normal circumstances I would be a bit worried about facing 155 critics. But this is not a normal golf course and I don‘t think I will have one critic out there – I will go there with my head held high. It is a brilliant golf course and I look forward to seeing what Europe’s best can do there.”
Montgomerie also paid tribute to the help he received on the project from European Golf Design and in particular from design partner Stan Eby, with whom he worked most closely over the many trips he made to Ireland.
“Stan has been helping a few of us over the years as to what is right and wrong and how our concepts can be put into practice and he is just a fantastic guy to work with,” he said. “As a result I went there far more often than I was contractually obliged to. Obviously, whenever we were at a tournament at The K Club I would pop down but I also went over dozens more times because I enjoyed so much getting the boots on and walking round with Stan discussing ideas, plans, and how the whole project was coming along.”
Dating back to the 17th Century, Carton House was formerly the ancestral home of the Fitzgerald family, Earls of Kildare. It is set within a 1,000 acre walled estate, some 30 minutes to the north west of Dublin.
“Colin wanted to develop his own design style, particularly with the bunkering,” said Eby. “In his view, bunkers are a hazard to be avoided and if the player does not do so, he can and should expect to be punished.
“This is especially true on ‘The Montgomerie‘ where the bunkers are deep, imposing and unforgiving, and on the greens you must always try to get on the right side of the hole or you will be faced with a difficult putt. I enjoyed working on the project tremendously and I know Colin is incredibly proud of the course.”
European Golf Design www.egd.com
Carton House Golf Club www.carton.ie