St. Margaret's Golf Club,
Designer: Tom Craddock, Pat Ruddy
Championship Length: 6,900 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 73
St. Margaret's Golf & Country Club is acknowledged as one of Ireland's finest new parkland golf courses. The course designers took a couple of hundred acres of farmland and moulded it into a magnificent expanse of parkland with rolling hills and huge undulating greens. The modern design makes wide use of water hazards and this adds to the picturesque rural setting. Given the quality of St. Margaret's, it is no surprise that the course has already hosted three international golfing events. The Ladies Irish Open was played here in 1994 and '95 and was a favourite haunt of then world number one, Laura Davies, who won on both occasions. The Irish Seniors Open has also been hosted here and it has drawn high praise from many quarters, with Sam Torrance indicating: "That eighteenth hole is the best finishing hole I have ever seen and possibly the strongest and most exciting in the world".
The course offers a great variety of holes. As well as awesome struggles, there are broad forgiving fairways, neat par 3's and greens which play very true at all times. Two of the best holes on the front nine include the long par four, 4th hole, rated the most difficult on the course and the par five 8th, which offers all sorts of options. The 4th hole measures over 450 yards from the championship stakes, while the fairway is lined with gorse on the right and bunkers to the left. The advice here is to be as long and straight as possible. The 8th is an excellent par five with water to the left from the tee and along the right side and front of the green. While the longer hitters may be tempted to strike for home in two, discretion is often the better part of valour here.
The homeward journey is equally as testing, with the 12th, 16th and certainly the 18th standing out. The par five 12th is a birdie opportunity for the longer hitter but having found the fairway with your drive, water awaits a badly struck or short approach. The 16th is a sweeping par 4 with trouble lurking both sides of the fairway. A well hit tee shot will leave a long iron or wood to a huge green so be very aware of the pin position. The 18th is one of the most respected par four closing holes in Irish golf. A good tee shot is essential if you intend to threaten the green in two, while a large lake protects the green to the right. Make par and hold your head high.