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Carton House Golf Resort, Ireland.

A 17th century ‘Grand Irish House’ at the centre of the estate.

Richard Cassels (Castle) was tasked to design the house for the Earl of Kildare. Cassels had already built up a portfolio of impressive Grand Irish Houses starting with the now disappeared Castle Hume on Lough Erne but also the Powerscourt Estate and Leinster House. Nestled within an 1,100 acres walled demesne and Georgian designed parkland, Carton House found a new lease of life with two golf courses and a hotel. It also houses the GUI headquarters and academy. The Irish Rugby team use Carton House as their training base. Carton House is easily reached just off the M4 and a majestic entrance road through the Montgomerie course reveals the majestic Georgian house. 

I headed out to Carton House late January with a four-ball from my home club to play both courses and stay overnight. It had been almost 10 years since my last visit  to Carton House where The Montgomerie Course hosted the Irish Open on three occasions and where I went to see it twice (2005 - 2006). Just last year, the O’Meara Course hosted the World Amateur Team Championship. For that purpose, some changes were made to the layout with the addition of new starting and finishing holes to bring the course closer to the clubhouse.

Both courses are distinctively different with O’Meara having that parkland feel and Montgomerie playing more ‘linksy’ with deep bunkers and elevated greens.  

O’Meara Course

As we were out in January, the tees were considerably forward and we played lift, clean and place and while the O’Meara does sit on the lower side of the estate, the great summer we had in 2018, kept the course pretty dry. Back tees measure 7,165 yards but the more appropriate tees for our level are the whites still at 6,828 yards. We were mostly on the green tees which still were a healthy 6,400 yards. The first hole is a relatively straightforward par 5 slightly uphill where a par should be within the realms of possibility. The 2nd hole, previously the first and a par 4, is now a long par 3. We found the front 9 easier than the back nine with all of us playing to our handicap or better. The back 9 proved to play slightly tougher as tiredness set in with a few good walks and with the course becoming more undulating. Our favourite stretch of holes were 14, 15 and 16 all played over and along the river Rye. A stretch of par 3, 5, 3 and 5 is an opportunity to either save or improve your card as the 18th is a long and very challenging par 4. With a Par of 73, the O’Meara is the more gentle of both courses and suits visiting societies to a tee. The new holes are great now as you can walk straight from the range onto the tee.

O’Meara - Par 73 - 7,165 yards

Montgomerie Course

The ‘Monty’ is for many a love it or hate it course. I love it and so did the other 3 players in my foursome. Yes it has deep and sometimes impossible bunkering, yes the greens are big and undulating and yes, it’s wide open and gets buffeted by the wind but it was in excellent condition when I played it. Admittedly, if you’re not on song, those bunkers are hard to avoid but with plenty of room to play it does make you think rather than just stand up and hit. Rumour has it that there are some changes coming to the Montgomerie to make it a bit more friendly for the average golfer, the majority of visitors and the ones spending the money. One example is the par 3 seventh. I must admit I didn’t hit a great shot and ended up in a front right bunker which, standing at 6ft2, I couldn’t see the top of the flag out of. It’s a bunker that will not punish the scratch golfer but will provide a double penalty for a medium handicap golfer. That could start to diminish your enjoyment on what is in essence a great test of golf. My favourite hole would be the par 3 17th hole. A delightful short(ish) hole. The Monty is easier underfoot but is mentally extremely challenging. Do sharpen up on your wedge play before heading out! A test of golf if ever there was one.

Montgomerie - Par 72 - 7,301 Yards

A seamless blend of classic and modern. 

Queen Victoria knew it well. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier came for a holiday. Peter Sellers and Marianne Faithfull lived here for years. When the 1st Duke of Leinster chose it for his country seat in 1739, it stayed in the FitzGerald family until the mid 20th century.

The hotel, mainly laid out in a new modern wing, provides groups with all the amenities one could want. A choice of restaurants, bars and an extensive leisure centre with a choice of ‘après golf’ treatments.  There is even a snooker room which attracted our attention and where we spent quite a bit of time. 

Breakfast is as breakfasts go in Ireland with the ‘full Irish’ on top of our list but for the more health conscious there is plenty of choice as well.

Carton House | Hotel - Golf - Leisure

Maynooth, Co Kildare - Tel: +353.1.505.20.00 -

36 Holes - 165 bedrooms - Leisure Centre - Kids activities

GUI Headquarters - Golf Academy of Ireland - IRFU training ground