Golf architects jockey for position to redevelop a new links for Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in northwest Ireland
Connecting with John and Frank Casey Jr. at the PGA Merchandise Show was a great way to get the latest news regarding the Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort, the fine 45-hole golf resort the Casey family has owned and operated since 1981 in County Donegal in northwest Ireland.
It seems the resort’s plans to build a new links course on land recently purchased (read about it here) has golf course architects posturing for position to land the project.
John Casey, who handles marketing for the resort, indicated that the project has created more buzz and attention from architects than they could have imagined. The 370 acres formally known as St. Patrick’s Golf Links currently consists of 36 holes of crude links golf. The Maheramagorgan and Tra Mor Courses, both built in 1996, were being redeveloped by Jack Nicklaus in 2006 before financial issues arose. The property sat for sale until the price dropped to where the Casey family felt it was a good investment. The family feared a developer might build a so-so links that wouldn’t be much of a draw for a resort in such a remote location. Rosapenna is roughly three hours from Dublin.
The family has higher hopes for what could be one of the last true links built on the Emerald Isle. Tom Doak, who has already worked at Rosapenna on the the Old Tom Morris Links front nine (called Strand), might have an inside track. Irishman Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock designed the resort’s best course, the Sandy Hills Links pictured above, in 2003.
“We haven’t made any decisions what to do,” John Casey said. “We’ve had a lot of contact from architects. Tom is high on the list.”
Casey said there is no timetable when work might begin, but added it’s more likely in 2014 than this year. He called the heavy duneland too tight for 36 holes. A likely outcome would be adding nine new holes to the back nine (called Valley) of the classic Old Tom Morris Links along Sheephaven Bay and building a new 18-hoop loop that twists through the dunes. He indicated having three contrasting styles – the tough Sandy Hills Course coupled with an Old Tom Morris Links featuring nine new holes that blend seamlessly into a classic links and a dynamic modern links that is playable and fun – remain critical to Rosapenna’s future. He said one architect will work on all 27 potential new holes.
“It has always been a dream of ours to extend (our resort) beyond the top of the valley,” Casey said. “It is just a phenomenal piece of ground … It is an exciting prospect. We want to build a real golf experience kind of like Bandon Dunes. We want to make a one-stop golf destination for golfers from all over the world. We want them (the courses) all to contrast.”
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