A city rich in history, culture and nightlife, there are hundreds of reasons people visit Ireland’s capital Dublin. But if you can drag yourself away from Temple Bar and the banks of the Liffey, there are countless golfing wonders to be found on the city’s outskirts.
Portmarnock and The Island, on the coast a few miles north of the city, are the best known. But there is also a clutch of interesting golf courses that punctuate south Dublin where the city meets the country. One such course can be found at Grange Golf Club, where former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley learnt his trade.
A native of nearby Rathfarnam, a young McGinley used to pass the Grange’s gates every Saturday morning on his way to play soccer or Gaelic football. The club wasn’t his first exposure to the game – his father was an established amateur on the Dublin scene and was based at Naas Golf Club in County Kildare, a short distance from the capital.
But Grange was where McGinley honed his skills, thanks to the invitation of a classmate whose parents were members. And more than 30 years later, McGinley’s design firm was hired to rework the opening hole of the course that set him on his way to golfing success.
The original holes at Grange Golf Club were laid out in 1910, but James Braid reworked the course significantly in the mid-1920s. Today, the club is home to 24 holes in total, from which members can play one of three different 18-hole arrangements.
The first, an uphill par three, was proving a concern from a safety perspective. The hole stands between the clubhouse and a nearby road, which runs the length of the fairway on the right-hand side.
To alleviate the dangers associated with golfers slicing their shots onto the road on the first hole, Paul McGinley Golf Course Design was hired to change the angle of play on the first hole. We at DAR Golf Construction were delighted to secure the contract to lead the work from a construction perspective.
The design called for a new tee box to be built to the right of its existing location. The green would also be rebuilt at a site to the left of where it currently lies. This would ultimately mean that, from the tee, golfers would be playing significantly away from the nearby road, negating the danger of errant shots.
Work commenced this May, with the construction of the new first tee. Measuring 300 square metres, this was turfed with new grass from Inturf, while the irrigation was installed by Aquaturf Solutions.
Focus then shifted to the new green, where we built a complex measuring 1,500 square metres, and includes a new bunker to the front left, which is lined with bunker liner from SportBond.
The green is being laid with turf from the existing green, with the shortfall coming from the onsite nursery at Grange Golf Club. The green surrounds are also being reshaped to help accommodate the new line of play.
“We’re delighted with how the work on the first hole has gone,” says Joe Bedford, project coordinator at Paul McGinley Golf Course Design. “The angle of the first hole is now nine degrees different to how it was, taking shots away from the road. The hole is shorter too, as it was 162 yards and now is 147 yards. The bunker on the front left side of the green has a very traditional look. It’s almost ‘Coltish’ in its way. Paul recently visited the course himself and was happy with everything. He’s delighted to be able to help his home club in this way.”
The project is not solely focused on the first hole however. The club is also taking the opportunity to use the space where the first tee used to sit to create a brilliant new short game area.
Featuring a new 650 square metre putting green and 800 square metre chipping green, both of which meet USGA specifications, and two practice bunkers, the new short game area sits conveniently next to the clubhouse, and I’m sure will be enjoyed by members of all ages and abilities.
“The project has brought a huge swell of momentum and positivity through the membership,” says Jonathan Palmer, director of golf at Grange Golf Club. “It’s one of those beautiful projects that takes place right outside the bar window, and so has been a strong topic of conversation. The members have admired the skill levels required by DAR Golf Construction to bring this project through the phases. We’re all very excited about it, and think it’s going to really instill an ethos of golf and practice. As well as the enhancements to the first hole, having a facility where all members can develop their skills and be successful at whatever level that might be is simply fantastic.”
With the project now coming to a close, we are delighted with how the hole and the practice area is shaping up. We hope that not only will the new layout of the first hole help to significantly improve safety at Grange Golf Club, but members will also have a great space to hone their skills at the club in the same way Paul McGinley did before them.
James D’Arcy is a director at DAR Golf Construction
This article first appeared in issue 49 of Golf Course Architecture