Headfort (New) Rosslare Rosslare sits alone on the south-east tip of the island, a low, fast links streaking over sweet and subtle fairways into some deeper dunes. It is all on show but you can be sure of hidden hollows, unpredictable humps and deceptive approaches to greens. The course sits on a narrow peninsula so all but two holes head out or back, meaning wind is a very real factor when you turn for home (the 8th). The terrain is used brilliantly, nowhere more so than the long par four 11th. This is the hardest hole on the course, typically playing into the wind. A good drive will still leave a blind approach over a large ridge sliding across from the right. A red and white pole offers directions to a sunken green but it is always a daunting shot. Mount Wolseley One of our big parklands, Mount Wolseley comes with plenty of muscle (back tees: 7,300 yards) as well as a smart hotel. This is another Christy O’Connor Jr design and choosing the right tee will make a significant difference to your round. There is dynamic movement to the landscape as emphasised by the opening three holes routed through big trees and over water. This is as good/ tough a start as you will play (Indices 7, 3 and 1) but it gets you in the mood for a round that demands strong driving. The many bunkers splashed about protect fairways and greens vigorously, and the big, slick putting surfaces are hard to gauge. Most of the long holes are doglegs and the short 4th may be the biggest risk vs. reward hole in Ireland. A sharp dogleg of 338 yards, the green is only 260 yards away, directly over a lake. 28 Headfort (New) Headfort has two very different but excellent parkland courses. The New opened in 2001, spread across a swathe of the old Headfort Estate. It is home to majestic trees, bountiful water features and two islands which are at the heart of the course. Holes fit elegantly into the undulating landscape and, despite its length (6,164m middle tees), every shot is enjoyable. Big (and straight) hitters will love it. The par threes are exceptional. The natural water features are, not surprisingly, a constant highlight, appearing in one shape or another on the opening 10 holes, as well as three more. Holes 9 and 10 demand big drives over a lake, so finding land is a victory. A couple of pretty walks to and from tees only adds to the feeling that this course has been here a long time. European Club The European comes with all sorts of accolades – the best modern links course in the world chief among them – and a rich history that whirls around the legend who is Pat Ruddy. The European Club, put simply, is the course that Pat built. Set on the Co. Wicklow coastline, next to Brittas Bay, this is a big, lilting and muscular test of golf. Pat does not design ‘easy’ courses; he makes you work for your par and The European is especially challenging off the tee. Several of the green sites are more forgiving, but only from the fairway… hit offline and the renowned railway-sleepered bunkers will cause you endless headaches. The course boasts 20 holes (two additional par threes) and while the Index 1 7th is rated as one of the best holes in the world, the 11th, 12th (with its longest green in Europe) and 17th may prove even more appealing.