The links of The European Club was designed by Pat Ruddy who continues after thirty years
to calibrate the links to meet the challenges of the modern game allowing the champions of today
to express themselves while demanding a cerebral approach for true success.
Year after year the work goes on with Ruddy directing design improvements. Few golf courses have had such prolonged attention from their designers with Donald Ross at Pinehurst being an obvious equivalent.
The result is probably the best links of them all as it is fitted precisely to the modern game and is never allowed to grow old. It benefits from the constant inputs of one of the most astute designers the game has seen.
Ruddy aspired to having a golf course of his own since learning that Jimmy Demaret and Jack Burke were founding a golf course of their own, The Champions Club, in Texas in 1958…..what a great idea! ……and it came to fruition when he surveyed Ireland's coastline by helicopter in search for a classic golf location. There it was at lovely Brittas Bay just 30-miles south of the capital city, Dubin.
Golf design has been a part of Pat Ruddy's life since childhood and he has completed about thirty-six projects since gaining his first professional commission at Castlecomer in the Irish midlands in 1969. Along the way he has come to be regarded as the world's leading links designer.
Amongst the links he has designed from concept to completion are The European Club, Ballyliffin Glashedy and Rosapenna Sandy Hills. He has impacted substantially at Portsalon (13 holes), Ballyliffin Old ( 7-holes), Rosapenna Old (12 holes) and Donegal (11 holes).
Champions from all over the world have discovered The European Club.
Padraig Harrington won the Irish PGA Championship here in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the event having been scheduled in the week before the British Open in order to prepare him for that classic, and the plan worked so well that he won the PGA in a playoff the week before winning The Open at Carnoustie in a playoff; and retained the PGA by four strokes at The European the week before retaining his Open title by four at Birkdale! He recalls: "There is no question that there were shots at The Open that I was better at because I had played links golf at The European Club the week before. I would specifically pick my 7-iron into the first hole of the playoff. The weather had turned, the temperature had dropped, and I had learned the week before to allow for this as I hit a 7-iron 162-yards as against my normal 180-yards. It must have won me The Open. The European Club is a great links that you have to think your way around."
Rory McIlroy won the Irish Amateur Championship here in 2006 and said: "This is probably the best links course I have ever played and I include Royal St. George's, Royal Portush and Royal County Down in that. Its just the definition to it with the sleepers in the bunkers. It is totally unbelievable. I love courses where you really have to think your way around. It gets me focussed much more."
Tiger Woods set the links record at 67 and said: What wonderful optical illusions. I thought some of those par-4s were par-5s. A great links.