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Mount Juliet Estate Golf Course Feature Review

By: Andrew Picken | Tue 25 Jan 2022

Review by Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken

I can sum up the Mount Juliet experience in one word. Magnificent.

This historic estate was named Juliet as a token of love by the Earl of Carrick who named it Mount Juliet after his wife, Lady Julianna Butler, aka Juliet.

This is a very special venue. It was created from an established parkland country estate of great history and heritage by Jack Nicklaus in 1991 as part of his signature collection of golf courses. Always destined for the highest level of tournament play it did not disappoint given the quality of those who have succeeded on its exquisite turf.

It measures 7,264 yards from the championship tee boxes and exudes quality and class at every turn.

Mount Juliet

The Venue

Easily accessible from Dublin and Cork airports, this was always intended to be an internationally recognised tournament venue.

The list of winners here is simply a who’s who of world golf over the last three decades. Sir Nick Faldo, Sam Torrance and Bernhard Langer won the first three Irish Opens. Tom Watson and Fred Couples then played an event as part of the Shell's Wonderful World of Golf series. Tiger Woods won here in 2002 and Ernie Els in 2004.

Its most recent major event was the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2021, played under restrictive conditions due to the pandemic, won by Lucas Herbert with a highly respectable 19-under par for four rounds.

Like the thoroughbred horses that share the nearby famous Ballylinch stud farm, this venue simply has an assured confidence about all it provides to its customers.

The drive to the venue is through serene and tranquil countryside, a feeling repeated when out on the course. The soundtrack of this venue is provided mainly by the sounds of nature.

An estate of around 500 acres provided Jack Nicklaus and Ron Kirby with an incredible canvas upon which to mould his golf course. The 180-acre golf course meanders its way in partnership with the River Nore. Mount Juliet features rolling fairways that are beautifully manicured. A plethora of standout water hazards and contoured greens, all of which are superbly blended into the spectacular setting of this famous old Irish estate.

This is a monumental, memorable golfing experience in so many ways.

Ensure you give yourself enough time to try out the Paul McGinley Golf Academy. He adapted the existing training facilities in 2017. They now include a sculpted 1.5 acre driving range allowing for full length fairways, two putting greens and a short game area. All year-round practice is catered for by the use of TrackMan. This is a top-drawer golfing experience in itself.

Mount Juliet

The Golf Course

The bunkering is superb and testing for all levels of golfer. Multiple tee options provide enjoyment and challenge to all standards of golfer in equal measure.

The opening hole is a steady introduction to the joys to follow requiring a controlled tee shot to allow access to the well bunkered green complex.

Hole 2 showcases a water hazard as it meanders diagonally across the fairway temptingly towards the thinnest part around the driver landing area. As expected, the green is well protected and small.

The 3rd hole is an absolute beauty. Genuinely distracting through its setting and composition. An array of tee boxes offered to cater for all levels of golfer. I defy you not to stop and photograph this golf hole. The more daring amongst us will video the shot for posterity. This hole is all carry, over water. The triple tier green offering even more of a challenge to a ball that remains dry.

The 4th hole offers a very tight drive through an avenue of well-established trees. The approach to the green tightens and constricts due to the invasive water hazard that patrols the right length of the green. I fell into the trap and sought sanctuary left with my second shot but drew it towards some more trees guarding the left edge of the green complex.

The 5th hole has out of bounds along its full length left. All 558 yards of it! Bunkers sit patiently at the elbows of two dog-legs waiting for the misjudged approach. This is another strategic golf hole requiring accurate execution for each and every shot. There are no respite holes on this golf course, every one has to be treated with the respect they and their designer deserve. 

The 6th is a lovely short hole ranging from 164 yards to 229 yards depending on the tee box chosen.

Hole 8 is another par 5 ranging from 603 yards to 462 yards. The entire right of the hole is out of bounds for its full length. Bunkers patrol to the right of the tee shot landing areas. The second shot is relatively straight but length and positioning is crucial to ensure the correct length for the shorter approach shot into the green as it possesses some really interesting slopes and swales.

Hole 9 is also served by out of bounds for its full length of 426 yards from the tips. Don’t forget to avail yourself and your playing partners of the bespoke telephone box that allows ordering of food and drinks from the halfway house.

Mount Juliet

Hole 10 was a favourite. Deliciously devious as there are a host of different playing routes depending on the quality of the drive. Think of this hole from above as a cupped hand with the green held in the fingertips. The landing area is tightly guarded by a reduced width fairway and bunkers left. The three shot option seems to favour the left-hand approach down the fingers but a more aggressive version would be to play over the thumb of the hand towards a green that is protected by six different bunkers of real complexity and depth. This is like 3D chess. A wonderful challenge. My two-bounce chip in from 50 yards helped my score and my overall game as I had been undone by some of the holes we had played thus far. It never ceases to amaze me how a single shot can alter an entire round of golf and the mindset with which it is being played. 

Hole 11 is a beautiful mid-length par-3 played over water and a substantial bunker towards a tilted complex green. This is a glorious part of the golf course.

Mount Juliet

Hole 13 is stroke index one par 4 of 433 yards, requiring a threaded tee shot to the right of a fairway-based series of swales that again restrict the landing areas available for the tee shot. The next shot requires real judgement and execution as a lake protects any shot short of the hole. The green is small and has many slopes and hollows within it to add further to the trials and tribulations on offer.

Hole 14 is another stunning short hole, protected by a necklace like ring of bunkers that will devour any short shot.

Hole 16 offers more challenges and opportunities. The driver landing area appears as wide and welcoming as a par 4 of some 452 yards can be. Bunkers sit left and right for the errant drive ensuring a bogey as this green complex is almost entirely encircled by sand.

The closing pair bring water to the fore once more, especially if your miss is left, as the 17th and 18th - a sizable par 5 and more-than-sizable par 4 respectively - play either side of the same large (visually intrusive) lake.

I can only begin to imagine the pressure of playing these last few holes in contention in any major event.

Mature trees along the edges of fairways (and sometimes in the middle, as on the 10th) give the course a feeling of age well beyond its 30 years. It also affords golfers an absence of distractions from other holes as one meanders through the beautifully landscaped routing. There is a secluded, tranquil feeling to the entire course especially as the pace of play was relaxed and unhurried.

This is among the best parkland courses I have played, providing a wonderfully memorable end to a magnificent Golfshake Road Trip to the Ancient South East of Ireland.

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