The European Club is the combination of one man, Pat Ruddy’s, lifetime experience and dreams. Situated in Brittas Bay, Wicklow, approximately an hour and a half south of Dublin city, The European Club was opened in 1987 and quickly became a fixture in the world Top-100 rankings. The aspiration to own his golf course had been one that Ruddy had held for a long time, and it took a helicopter trip around the coast of Ireland for him to finally identify this stretch as the location for his links. At 7,377yds, this is one of the longest links courses anywhere in the world and has also been described as one of the toughest, but as the owner would attest, if you choose the wrong set of tee’s, you must accept the consequences!
The European Club is formed around a fabulous set of tumbling dunes, and there is no question that the definition of the courses is second to none. There are no blind shots to be found among the twenty holes, yes twenty; there are two extra Par 3’s included and playable. The course is covered with what are now infamous, railway sleeper faced bunkers, and the Par 4 twelfth reputedly has one of the longest greens in the world measuring 127yds deep, 7yds longer than any of the double green complexes at St. Andrews. The 13th and 14th holes have been widely recognized as two of the best holes in golf, the former being a 596yd dogleg that is played through a myriad of bunkers to a small kidney-shaped green.
Some of the greats of the game have played The European Club including Tiger Woods who holds the course record 67. Rory McIlroy won the Irish Amateur title at The European Club, and Padraig Harrington used the course as his warm-up track before eventually going on to earn his two British Opens. Ruddy himself has influenced many other Irish links courses as a designer, most notably in Ireland’s northwest including Ballyliffin, Rosapenna, Co. Sligo (Rosses Point), Portsalon and Donegal (Murvagh).
There is no question that the European is a tough golfing challenge, but it’s only as tough as you want to make it. The designer has incorporated years of experience and thought into the course, and that continues to be employed on an almost daily basis as changes and upgrades are made to the course. Well worth a visit on any golf vacation to Ireland.