Powerscourt Golf Club is located in the picturesque little Irish village of Enniskerry, only some 12 miles south of the capital Dublin, and about a half hours drive from the main city hotels. Approaching the course from the village, you might be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back over 100 years in time, and were instead visiting the country estate of some belted earl or minor royalty.
This course, only open for play since April, 1996, is set in the famous Powerscourt Gardens Estate, that was once the family home of the Viscounts Powerscourt, and which is one of the finest country houses and gardens to be found anywhere in the country.
The clubhouse is in keeping with the rest of the complex, which dates back to the 18th century, and has been built very much in the Georgian style. The inside though is pure 21st century, with every facility demanded by today's discerning golfer. The ground floor houses the changing and shower rooms, and there is a extremely well stocked shop and check in facility, where you can buy all your golfing requisites, from a new set of clubs to a tee peg, and which also has buggies and carts for hire, and local caddy's, if required.
On the upper floor there is a fine bar and restaurant facility, where you can either avail of the fine selection of bar snacks and light meals, or elect to eat in their fine a la carte restaurant. A large balcony overlooks the 18th green, and sitting out here with a long, cool one on a pleasant summer's evening is only one step away from heaven.
The course itself is strongly tipped to become one of the finest parkland tracks in the whole of Ireland, and has been designed and built to strict USPGA specifications, with fine sculpted fairways and tiered greens, that will test the ability of the finest of golfers. The rough too, is very much in the American mould, with two cuts. The first cut of rough is just about manageable, but any shot hit into the hay that is the primary rough will usually result in either a lost ball at worst, or a hack out back into the fairway at best.
The famous sporting goods family, the Slazengers, were the main shakers and movers behind this fine development, and the course obviously has major championships in its sights for the future, as it is landscaped to produce almost perfect natural spectator galleries around the whole course.
A par-72, measuring 7,051 yards from the championship tees, this is a parkland course that plays with many characteristics of a fine links. Set on the slopes of the Dublin Mountains, it is blessed with naturally free draining soil, which means it can cope with most of the vagaries that the unpredictable Irish weather can throw up, and rarely has to close its doors because of bad weather or flooding. In contrast to the parkland holes at the beginning of the course, many of the later holes would give you the impression you were only a stone's throw from the seaside, and indeed Dublin Bay and the Sugar Loaf Mountain provide a stunning backdrop throughout, and some of the views are quite stunning. Because it has been built in the grounds of an old established estate, you don't get any feeling of newness at this course, and the 200-year-old trees and woodlands leave you with the impression that this course has been here forever.
There are many interesting and varied holes. I played it on a fine summer's day with only a zephyr of a breeze, but I could well imagine many of the long par-4's being well out of reach in two shots if you were playing it in a high wind.
The second hole, a par-5 of over 520 yards, with a slight dogleg to the left, is one of the finest on the front nine. Trees to the right, and a series of strategically placed bunkers on the left, mean that a long accurate drive is required if you are to have any chance at all of hitting the green in two shots. Even if this is achieved, you still have to negotiate your way around an enormous old oak tree that dominates the centre of the fairway about fifty yards short of the putting surface. This means that you will have to hit either a controlled draw or a fade for your second shot. The more faint hearted can lay up left or right of the tree, and leave themselves a relatively straightforward wedge shot to the well bunkered green.
The sixth hole is another monster of a par-5. Measuring over 540 yards, it plays uphill all the way from the drive to the putting surface. Bunkers are again very well placed, both to the right and left of the landing area for most drives, so again the premium is on accuracy with the tee shot. The second shot is partially blind. You can see the green in the distance ok, but what you can't see is a large bunker lurking in a dip just before the green to catch out the adventurous among us. I managed to hit my 3 wood second into this hidden hazard, and was lucky to escape with only a bogey six as a result.
Two of the outstanding holes on the back nine come at the 16th and 17th, just as you're starting to look forward to a refreshing shower and a cool glass of Guinness. The 16th is a par-3 of 164 yards, that for all the world has you thinking you are standing at the famous par-3 twelfth hole at the Augusta National in Georgia. Played from an elevated tee to a slightly elevated green, there is a small water hazard running round the front and left, that will without question, catch any shot that is not hit firmly enough to carry all the way to the putting surface. A high bank with deep rough borders the right hand side, and the steep slope behind the green is also no mans land. Any shot hit into either will leave you with nothing better than a hack out for your second, with a strong possibility of still ending up in that water. The only shot here is an accurate one onto the putting surface. I actually birdied this hole from about 15 feet, and it was one of the highlights of my round.
Gather your resources quickly, because the par-5 seventeenth hole, at just short of 600 yards in length, is one of the most difficult of the whole eighteen. Again you need a long accurate drive, as trees to the right and deep rough to the left, will punish any wayward strike very severely. This green cannot be hit in two except by the John Daly's or Tiger Wood's of the world, as it is fronted by an enormous pond, that starts some 75 yards or so short of the green, and extends almost to the edge of the putting surface. A fairway wood or long iron to the front of this hazard will still leave you with a daunting third shot into a large, well contoured green. Believe me, take a par here any day and move on quickly!
This gives you a little taster of the pleasures that await you at this fine, new Irish golf course.
Powerscourt is a course very much built on the same model as Druid's Glen in Co. Wicklow, and The K-Club in Co. Kildare, the venue for the 2005 Ryder Cup. In my opinion, it is the equal of both, and its close proximity to Dublin means that it can easily be fitted in to any golfing itinerary, and is in the same "loop" as both these courses, and also The European Club, the fine new links recently opened in Co. Wicklow. Green fees are at the higher end of the scale, at £75 (Irish Punts) throughout the season, but discounts are negotiable for groups of four or more, and special all-in deals, including food, are offered in the winter season.
Powerscourt Golf Club,
Phone: 00 353 1204 6033
Fax: 00 353 1276 1303
Length of Course: 7,051 yards
Number of Holes: 18
Type of Course: Parkland