St Patrick’s Links

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Tom Doak's dream has become a reality with his first Irish links design.

Golf Course Review

St Patrick's Links at Sheephaven Bay, in County Donegal, Ireland is a  joint partnership with Tom Doak and Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort to turn a 36-hole dormant golf course into an 18 hole world-class links.

St Patrick's Links Construction Team

The original 36 holes were designed by Eddie Hackett and Joanne O'Haire. In the early 2000s, Jack Nicklaus was meant to redevelop the land but the plans never materialised. What would have been just another golf course for the multi-national conglomerate became a passion project for Tom Doak and company. Eric Iverson, Clyde Johnson, and Angela Moser, along with agronomist Gordon Irvine, all played massive roles in bringing the plan to fruition.

St Patrick's Links Mission

The Casey's, the family behind Rosapenna, purchased the adjacent estate and set about instructing Tom Doak. The drive behind the layout at St Patrick's Links is quality over quantity. Where once was 36 there is now 18. With the grow in well underway and no public play during 2020, the course looks set to welcome the world in 2021!

Course Opening & Tom Doak's Course Summary

Tom Doak visited the completed course in June 2021 for opening and released a photo or to a day on Instagram with his take on the course. His remarks are paraphrased here:

Hole 1 - Tom remarks the opening hole is more important than the closing hole and feels the 1st at St Patrick's Links makes the right impression. He commented the opening sequence of 1-2-3 made a better first impression than 10-11-12 and if needed the nine could be reversed. The opener has to have character, belong with what follows, and must excite. The first hole plays with the prevailing wind, has a 50-yard wide fairway.

Hole 2 - The only hole on the course which used the bones from the previous layout.

Hole 3 - The first par 3 and your first glimpse of Sheephaven Bay. This little hole is used to open up the four-hole loop from holes 4-6. Tom calls the walk from this green to the 4th tee 'the grand reveal'.

Hole 4 - A long par 5 with the par 3 5th hole visible from the tee.

Hole 5 - The sand scrape on this one-shot hole is from Jack Nicklaus. Mr. Doak calls the green here 'too cool.'

Hole 6 - This par 5 is the longest at St Patrick's Links. A sandy waste lies across the fairway for the second shot. The elevated green is smallish and sports a rise just in front favouring a running approach shot. Designed to be hard to hit and hold in two.

Hole 7 - The fairway on the 7th was from a former hole but played in reverse. A new tee and green mean the hole is played in a different orientation.

Hole 8 - One of Tom Doak's favourite holes at St Patrick's Links.

Hole 9 - Tom calls this 460-yard par 4 a 'bruiser' - it is the toughest hole on the front nine.

Hole 10 - A par 4 built by Angela Moser. Tom says it is the most different from what I expected at the beginning...

Hole 11 - The green is of Clyde Johnson vintage. The undulations on this hole may be the wildest of the bunch at St Patrick's Links.

Hole 12 - Tom predicts this may be the least favourite hole on the links. It is the most inland, usually plays into the wind and features a blind or semi-blind second shot. He calls it a pretty good worst hole!

Hole 13 - No photos but we know it is an uphill tee shot that is intimidating.

Hole 14 - Cheekily, Tom Doak calls the 14th 'not the worst hole' he has built. An elevated tee with a tee shot that makes you feel as though you're hitting your ball into the Atlantic. The hole is both intimidating yet forgiving.

Holes 15-18 - We will have to wait until Tom's next visit to hear what he has to say... what we do know is of the final four, two are amongst Tom's favourite holes.

General Remarks

About 30-40% of the grass came from the old course. The approaches and greens were seeded with the remainder of the course sodded where there wasn't enough good turf to go around.

There are no greens that slope from front to back. Greens on 1, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 16 all have high points near the front of the green. 6 and 16 are the only two with elevated green sites.

Tom Doak remarks the best feature of St Patrick's Links is the undulations in the fairways.

The greens are pure fescue grass.


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