Planting your peg on the first tee of a great new course is like waking up on Christmas morning. You may have some idea about the gifts that await, but the surprise is half the fun. As each hole unfolds, it’s akin to unwrapping one present at a time. Each hole, and course, is different, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. As the calendar year comes to a close, GOLF.com will unveil its best of the best when it comes to new courses of 2018. Check the December 2018 issue of GOLF magazine for the full lineup.
On the tee: The best new renovation of the year
The Golf Course At Adare Manor
Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland
7,509 Yards, Par 72
At Adare Manor in 1995, Robert Trent Jones Sr., built what many considered the greatest parkland course in Ireland. Twenty years later, the resort’s new owner, renowned Irish entrepreneur JP McManus, had other ideas: We can do better. So he gutted the layout and enlisted Augusta National’s consulting architect, Tom Fazio, together with Fazio’s senior design associate, Tom Marzolf, to start fresh.
It’s a coin flip as to whether Adare is a brand new course—as Fazio asserts— or merely a major remodel, which involves a complete redesign. We’ll opt for the latter, as the routing and golf-hole corridors remain as they were, but the look and playing appearance from old to new is starkly different. Picture an endless green carpet of fairway grass, with no traditional rough, à la the home of the Masters.
Although the flattish front nine at Adare won’t remind you of Augusta, everything else will. Only 42 bunkers dot the course, and they’re of brilliant white sand and simple shapes. Distinctive local flora accents every hole. But the greens are the story, propped up well above the fairways and sporting yips-inducing speed with slopes to conquer if you miss the putting surface. Look for a Ryder Cup here in the near future, which is precisely what McManus envisions.