If Europe and America’s finest meet in the Ryder Cup at this Limerick golf resort, they will experience peerless opulence, writes Chris Bertram
Anyone who has been to Adare Manor and hears it has undergone a multi-million pound makeover, will understandably be thinking ‘where could you spend all that cash on it?’.
Adare Manor has for years been one of the premier hotels in Britain and Ireland but after being was bought by JP McManus in 2014, the billionaire has not been shy of investing on and off the course.
The ultimate aim – which has now been achieved – was to lure the Ryder Cup here and with friends (McIlroy and Harrington to name two) in high places, a course that is now one of the best inland in GB&I and the kind of funds required to seal the deal, don’t be surprised to see Europe v America on this pristine fairways.
Groomed to a preposterous degree, the white-sand bunkers and pine straw circling the limited but towering trees make similarities with Augusta National not totally fanciful.
The course has changed as much as is possible to do with an inland venue, with Tom Fazio’s upgrade focussing on making it much more playable.
The Robert Trent Jones Snr original from 1995 has not been changed in its routing, but now looks and plays very differently. It opened for play this spring.
When we first played there four years ago, the rough framing every fairway was brutal; so long and thick that it meant a lost ball unless you were extraordinarily lucky.
Now, the whole site is mown down, so the only time you will lose a ball is if you find water on the 14 holes that the lake or the River Maigue are in play.
There are also just 42 bunkers, so the challenge comes on and around the greens. Most are elevated and domed, and there are significant undulations on them. All have Sub Air system to remove moisture through vacuum pumps, so they will never be helpfully super-soft and receptive.
It’s unlikely you will have stayed anywhere that better balances charisma with opulence.
The course will also always be in immaculate condition. The low-lying site would get soft in winter (and beyond), so 180,000 tonnes of sand, and 77,000 linear meters of gravel trenches and perforated pipes now sit under the pristine turf.
So it will now play firm and fast in parkland terms. Groomed to a preposterous degree, the white-sand bunkers and pine straw circling the limited but towering trees make similarities with Augusta National not totally fanciful.
There were 150 men involved in the project – including, apparently, input from Irish greats Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley – and a small army of bulldozers and a myriad other machinery.
The hotel is set in the handsome manor behind the 18th green and is no less impressive. In fact it is hard to think of a definitively better hotel in Britain or Ireland.
Certainly it’s unlikely you will have stayed anywhere that better balances charisma with opulence.
The bedrooms are spacious, luxurious and fitted with all manner of gadgets as old world character meets modern innovation.
The hotel is all stout oak beams, astonishing chandeliers, beguiling staircases and muscular slabs of stone.
The bedrooms are spacious, luxurious and fitted with all manner of gadgets as old world character meets modern innovation (witness the iPad-controlled curtains that draw across the centuries old windows!).
The Oak Room serves exquisite seven-course fine dining experiences while the more homely Drawing Room is more relaxed. The Tack Room is a super-cool bar for late drinks and cocktails.
Afternoon tea is simply an essential experience, taken in The Gallery, where the best breakfast you’ve ever had is also laid on.
There is a spa to lose yourself in for lazy afternoons of pampering and many more energetic activities too.
Try falconry (learn about these amazing birds and fly one in the grounds), clay pigeon shoot, cycle or archery.
Horse riding is available five minutes away, and Adare will even send you off with perfectly fitting hats and boots from their well-stocked rental range.
If you want to impress someone, take them here. We defy you not to have a ludicrously good time.
Adare Manor’s renovation in numbers
127 new mature trees
170,000m2 of manicured fairway
170 acres of low-cut sand capped grass, wall to wall, with no rough in play
180,000 tonnes of sand
12,055m2 of Pure Distinction bent grass USGA greens
14 holes with water features and 12 new hand-cut stone bridges
77 new tee boxes measuring 10,777m2
1 River Maigue