Picture 109This week the Irish Open headed to Carton House, Co. Kildare, so we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the course the pros are competing on and the second course this superb golf resort.

First off, we have the Montgomerie, which opened in 2003 – the course where the competition is taking place. As you might have guessed from its name, was designed by legendary Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie in conjunction with Stan Elby of European Golf Design. Its fascinating layout, which stretches to a massive 7,300 yards from the back pegs, provides a challenging test for even the best golfers in the world – but its length can also be reduced down to 5,655 yards, making it easily accessible for the handicap golfer.

As the course is located over 20 miles inland it doesn’t have the usual links-defining characteristics one might expect, such as sand dunes. However The Montgomerie gets its definition by the man-made undulations, swaying fescue grass, clear clarity between the cuts of grass and the large number of deep pot bunkers peppered throughout.

There’s no doubting that it still looks and feels like a relatively modern layout, however it’s a sincere and humble track which comes together rather well. There’s no signature hole to tell you about, just one great hole after another – especially the par-3s.


The Montgomerie Course has previously seen Stephen Dodd (2005) and Thomas Bjorn (2006) win the Irish Open.

Monty, obviously pleased with his design, said: “This is a unique project and I am privileged to be associated with it. You can’t call it a links course, but it plays like a links and has all the characteristics of a links. In designing the course, I attempted to go back to a more traditional course. I looked at the great courses around the world – Royal Melbourne, Troon, Turnberry – and worked out what is so good about them. One thing that springs to mind – bunkering. They are hazards and they work with the prevailing wind. Few holes are straight up and down the wind but tend to be across, which brings the bunkering into play. This is the kind of course where the best players would always come out on top.”

Having been opened for play for ten years you’d be forgiven for thinking it might not be particularly well established yet; however it already has a very impressive list of accolades:

  • Vote ‘Best Course of 2006’ by the readers of Golf Punk Magazine
  • Joint winner of prestigious ‘Committed to Green Award’
  • Winner of ‘Best New Design of the Year 2004’ Award – Golf World, January 2005
  • Ranked 10th in Ireland by US Golfers Digest magazine – April 2005
  • Home to the 2004 AIB Irish Amateur Open Championship
  • Home to the 2010 Handa Irish Senior’s Open
  • Home to the 2005, 2006 & 2013 Irish Open

There is also a second 18-hole layout at Carton House which was designed by Mark O’Meara, again with the help of European Golf Design. Known as the O’Meara, the course is actually the older of the two having opening for play in May 2002.

The course is overlooked by Tyrconnel Tower, which can be seen from eleven of the holes. Coincidentally, the same number of holes are laid out such that they are more lenient to those who can play a right to left draw – just like the trademark shot of the designer.

The course itself meanders through greatly undulating landscape but the best are kept until (almost) last with O’Meara’s own “Amen Corner” from the 14th to the 16th which takes place next to the roaming River Rye.


There is also talk of the O’Meara being used for a future Irish Open, however changes have to be made to make the course more ‘spectator-friendly.

There are a number of outstanding holes, including the 561-yard, par-5, 15th where the river cuts through not once, but twice between the tee and green. The hole is sandwiched between two memorable par-3 holes – the 185-yard 14th, which is played to a green encircled by water, and the 180-yard 16th,which requires a tee shot with 150 yards carry over water – no bunkers are needed in order to toughen up what is already a seriously testing hole.

Carton House, nestled in a 1,100 acre walled estate dating back to Norman times, is very easy to get to from Dublin International Airport and the city centre, at just under half an hour drive west from each. So it’s a magnificent option for those of you looking for a golf break.

Our friends YourGolfTravel.com offer great value packages to stay & play at this superb 4* golf resort. For just £79 you could be enjoying 1 nights B&B and unlimited rounds of golf on these two top-class golf courses! So why not follow in the footsteps of this year’s Irish Open field (which includes McIlroy, Clarke, Harrington, McDowell, Lowry & McGinley) and book your next golf break to Carton House.