Adare Adare The new Adare opened to great fanfare this year. The course was already widely regarded as Ireland’s best parkland so Tom Fazio’s redesign was eagerly anticipated. The routing has not changed but every green, tee and bunker has been replaced, and fairways have been re-shaped. Thousands of trees have been cleared to make it more playable and rough is minimal. Apart from the water features and River Maigue you shouldn’t lose a ball here. But you could lose your head around raised greens which boast vast aprons and steep slopes. Your greatest challenge on this immaculately maintained course (sub-air technology is installed in every green) is finding that putting surface. Expect Adare to host the Ryder Cup in 2026. Ballybunion (Cashen) Many believe the Cashen was blessed with dunes even more spectacular than the Old course. You’ll need to play both to decide for yourself but the wonderful Co. Kerry setting remains the same. The Old has been left relatively untouched, embracing classic links traditions, but the Cashen is a more revolutionary beast. Opened in 1984, it was designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior, who set greens in positions which demand target golf and not classic bump-and-run approach shots. It matters little… the Cashen is thrill-a-minute golf where you get tossed around as dunes get ever more dramatic. There are blind shots and deep hollows everywhere. The back nine promises epic approach shots and holes 14 to 17 are the pick of the bunch as they find the coastline. Doonbeg The routing has not changed but every green, tee and bunker has been replaced, and fairways have been re-shaped. 88 In 2015, Doonbeg underwent its first upgrade under Martin Hawtree. The changes to Greg Norman’s original design were completed in 2016. Norman was restricted in what he could do and where he could go (the rare snails on the biggest dunes had to be protected), but Doonbeg still flashed with genius. He let the natural terrain of big, chaotic dunes shape the holes, resulting in some stunning shots and remarkable green settings… the 1st, 5th, 13th and 15th come to mind. Holes weave in a vague figure of eight in and out of the dunes, brushing up to Doughmore Bay on several occasions. Hawtree has refined Norman’s work and the routing to play better in the wind, and the new greens are beautiful creations.