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Mount Juliet Golf Club,
Designer: Jack Nicklaus
Championship Length: 7,112 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 74
The opening of Mount Juliet paved the way, alongside the K Club, for the development of many top class parkland golf resorts in Ireland. Glasson, Mount Wolseley, Faithlegg, Adare and Esker Hills to name but a few, all followed shortly afterwards. In the summer of 1986, the reigning US Masters champion, Jack Nicklaus, was playing an exhibition match at Royal Dublin against Seve Ballesteros, when after the round Nicklaus was approached by Tim Mahony, chairman of the sponsoring company, Toyota Ireland, with regard to the design of a new course in Kilkenny. So it was that Mount Juliet was born.
Five years later in July 1991, Nicklaus played another exhibition against Ireland's Christy O' Connor Sr. at the official opening of what was destined to become one of Ireland's finest parkland golf courses. Due to the quality of the course, Mount Juliet enjoyed a meteoric rise to international recognition, hosting the first of three successive Irish Open Golf Championships in 1993. Following a hardly needed green redevelopment plan, Mount Juliet is set to host the WGC American Express Championship in 2002, a fitting reward for a fantastic golf course.
Mount Juliet lies like a jewel among 1500 walled acres of woodland and rolling green landscapes alongside the River Nore. Known as the Augusta of Europe, the resort offers many golfing facilities including a three hole academy and an 18 hole putting course, where the series of par 3's, 4's and 5's are complete with lakes and bunkers. Combine this with a tranquil setting in a secluded country estate and a series of other leisure facilities and Mount Juliet is undeniably one of the finest resorts in Europe. Jack Nicklaus summed it up best when he commented: "Mount Juliet is such a magnificent setting for a golf course; I feel proud of the layout and my work here."
The golf course is a fair challenge, which rewards good play but punishes errors. Water is in play in a serious way on seven holes, while the bunkers throughout the course are positioned to ensure that the golfer thinks their way around. Best of the outward nine holes are probably the short 3rd over water and the long par four 4th hole, which requires a straight drive through a tree lined fairway and an accurate approach to a green guarded by water on the right. The journey home will certainly be enjoyed, with the 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th holes a real pleasure to play. Mount Juliet offers a very strong finishing two holes. The 17th is a long par 5, where the drive must be threaded along a huge lake on the left and through large trees on either side of the fairway, while the 18th is long par 4, skirted by the lake on the left and is a fitting finish to a great golf course.