Ireland's Carton House set to host the 2013 Irish Open - and Rory McIlroy - and upgrades its O'Meara course, too
Carton House is busy preparing for the 2013 Irish Open on its Colin Montgomerie Course in County Kildare near Dublin. The European Tour event last visited Monty’s trap-laden inland links in 2005 and 2006. It’s big news that Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy has already committed to play June 27-30.
But there’s also some exciting things happening on Carton House’s Mark O’Meara Course. A new routing by European Golf Design that will greatly improve traffic flow around the parkland course is scheduled to open in July.
When I played the O’Meara several years ago (check out my review here and photos here), golfers had to be shuttled by van up the hill to the first tee and back down from the 18th green. It was awkward at best.
The new routing will start and finish near the historic Carton House, a magnificent cut-stone Georgian mansion commissioned in 1739. Pictured above, it opened as a 165-room resort hotel in 2006.
The new first hole near the mansion will play as a par 5 and the old first hole, a par 4, will become a more dramatic par 3. The old fourth hole, a mundane par 3, and 18th hole, a mid-length uphill par 4, will be eliminated. A new demanding par 4 will combine with the existing 17th hole for a tough two-hole finish.
The highlight of any round will always be holes 14-16 in a beautiful valley showcasing the River Rye, a stretch Director of Golf Francis Howley calls “our Amen Corner.” Pictured below is the 16th hole. Howley told me at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January that he’s excited to see the finished product this summer.
“It was not a great 18th hole,” he admitted. “Now the old house (the hotel) serves as a back drop. You look at the lake and the boat house. It is much better-looking with all the aesthetics around us. It will be a different experience for players.”
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