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Inspired by links courses, the Montgomerie Course at Carton House near Dublin is a hybrid of sorts.
Inspired by links courses, the Montgomerie Course at Carton House near Dublin is a hybrid of sorts. (Mike Bailey/TravelGolf)

Links-inspired Montgomerie golf course at Carton House in County Kildare is Irish Open worthy

Mike BaileyBy Mike Bailey,
Senior Staff Writer

COUNTY KILDARE, Ireland -- It's not quite parkland, and it's not quite links. Rather, it's a combination of both. And it's quite unique, much like the course's designer, Colin Montgomerie, who has always had his own way of looking at things.

One of two golf courses at magnificent Carton House just outside of Dublin, Ireland, the Montgomerie Course obviously impressed Ireland's golf community, because it hosted three Irish Opens. (The other course is the O'Meara Course, designed by American Mark O'Meara.) So much so, in fact, that the course got the championship in 2005 and 2006 before the hotel was finished on the historic property.

Then in 2013, the Irish Open returned with a full field and guests that were able to stay on property.

With a river that runs between the courses and alongside the boundaries of the Montgomerie, the course is both beautiful and challenging. It follows the gentle contours of the land with both links elements and parkland elements. There are plenty of trees and fairly generous fairways, but miss them, and you can wind up in the tall fescue.

Even more imposing are the bunkers, deep and difficult to get out of in some cases. Montgomerie, an eight-time Order of Merit winner on the European PGA Tour, made the bunkering a key element in the design.

"I looked at the great courses around the world -- Royal Melbourne, Royal Troon, Turnberry -- and worked out what is so good about them," Montgomerie said. "One thing that springs to mind -- bunkering. They are hazards, and they work with the prevailing wind. Few holes are straight up and down the wind. They tend to be across, which brings the bunkering into play. This is the kind of course where the best players would always come out on top."

Gone with the wind

Montgomerie views the bunkers as true hazards, fairway bunkers in particular. If you get in one, par will be a great score, and birdie is near impossible. Even if you find one on a par 5, it's not likely you'll be able to advance the ball far, because the edge of the bunker is most likely over your head.

And while the bunkers around the green are much the same, though, there is a chance to get it up and down around the greens, because you don't have to hit it far. Still, they are much more difficult than the typical American course.

While the bunkers are prominent, though, they are hardly the only noteworthy design element. At 7,301 yards, the course has plenty of length. (It can play as short as 5,655 yards from the first of four sets of tees.)

The greens are large and feature plenty of elevation. They are also fairly quick, especially around a tournament. Downhill putts can be especially treacherous with some of the greens sporting false fronts.

Monty also gives players a nice variety of holes, including a mixture of par 3s; par 5s that are true three-shotters and one or two that might be reachable by long hitters; and a short par 4 (the 13th) that tempts long hitters to try to drive the green.

The Montgomerie Course at Carton House: The verdict

While the Montgomerie Course at Carton House isn't typical Irish links golf, it is a nice change of pace and certainly worth playing if you have the opportunity. Couple that with the 145-room Carton House -- which dates back to the early 1700s -- and you've got a terrific golf escape, especially if you play the O'Meara Course, which complements Monty's design.

The resort also has professional grade practice facilities, including a large grass range, short-game area with practice bunkers and a large putting green behind the mansion.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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