The European Club
Designers: Pat Ruddy
After a long career dedicated to the game of golf both as a writer and course architect, Pat Ruddy needed a new place to call his own. Scouring the Irish coast by helicopter, he eventually found it on a rugged stretch of linksland some 30 miles south of Dublin.
From the outset, The European Club is, as intended, different than any other course in Ireland or beyond. There is no green committee or autocratic club secretary to contend with, nor the feared breach of some unwritten piece of etiquette. Instead it’s a warm welcome that greets us at The European Club, likely by the “Committee of One,” as Ruddy famously calls himself.
“When a person comes to Ireland, they become a member of the family. Friendships are formed that last for decades. We notice a visitor and we embrace them. They are not just fodder to a business, they are very welcome.” ~Pat Ruddy
The hospitality that introduces us to the course is an ironic precursor for what lies ahead. This is a mighty links, but also one that inspires and entertains. The holes meander through the sandhills in a way that feels entirely natural, challenging the wind from all directions. There are few blind shots and other quirks known to sometimes frustrate on links courses, but this courtesy is offset by The European Club’s famous sleepered bunkers. They are both delightfully unique and astonishingly difficult.
As the course touches the shores of the Irish Sea at the heart of the round, we discover that The European Club is not your ordinary mix of 18-holes… Because there’s 20. When Ruddy was laying out the links, there was one site amongst the dunes that seemed destined for a green yet it didn’t fit logically into the routing. This being entirely his domain, Ruddy built the hole anyway. Hoping to restore some balance to his now 19-hole course, he then added another par-3 to round off the pair of 10-hole loops. The 20-hole course is certainly a break from tradition, but it’s seems only fitting at this one of a kind club.
Since The European Club debuted in 1992, Ruddy has continued to tweak and mold his masterpiece into his view of the perfect course. Perhaps the best example is the wandering burn which recently replaced an odd pond short of the 18th green. As it is, The European Club will always be a work in progress, but one gets the feeling that’s exactly how the designer likes it. After you fill in the “What My Score Should Have Been” box on the scorecard, we suggest a stop in the clubhouse for piece of Mrs. Ruddy’s fabulous apple pie, while perhaps asking the “Committee of One” what he has up his sleeve next.
Major Basil Haversham, OBE
Your guide to the greatest golf holidays in Ireland
Independent travellers: The European Club is located about 45 minutes from Dublin City Centre, about 5 miles south of Wicklow. Motor south from Dublin on the N11, bypassing Shankhill and Bray. Just before Wicklow at Rathnew, turn right off the temporary roundabout. Take your second left, and proceed to Jack White’s Inn (on your left). Turn left a Jack White’s until you come to a T-junction. Turn right at the tee, and proceed about three minutes or so to the European Club on your left. If you get hopelessly lost, call them at (0404)- 47415.