How many of us drive past or fly over swathes of land and imagine how a golf course might be laid out upon them?
Unfortunately very few will ever act upon these fanciful notions, but perhaps more of us should take inspiration from Pat Ruddy. In the late 1980s the golf writer boarded a helicopter with a mission – to scour the Irish coastline for a perfect spot to build a golf course. Ruddy’s quest came to an end whirring above the rugged dunes of Brittas Bay, an hour south of Dublin. He’d never studied course architecture but, captivated by this stretch of majestic Wicklow coast, he acquired it and embarked upon a remarkable personal project to construct a golf course.
The European Club was the fantastic result of his enterprise -it’s now recognised as one of the finest courses in the world and among the greatest examples of modern links architecture. Carved into impressive sand hills, the European Club has 20 superb holes that wind over and through, between and round the dunes. With such undulations
it’s testament to Ruddy’s skill as a designer that he managed to purposefully ensure there were no blind holes. A refreshing feature for a links layout.
In 2002 ,Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara, David Duval and Scott McCarron visited this course as part of their preparation for the Open at Muirfield. McCarron was so taken with the venue he remarked the links should be the site of a Major championship. Most visitors to the European Club will be inclined to agree with the American as by the end of the round they’ll have had every facet of their game tested.
You may have checked yourself when you saw the European Club has 20 holes, but this isn’t a typing error. There are indeed two extras on the course. Par 3s labelled 7B and 12B, they’re a personal touch from Ruddy, a unique addition to this enthralling course.

ADDRESS: Brittas Bay,
Wicklow, Ireland
T: 00 353 4044 7415
W: theeuropeanclub.com
STATS: par 71, SSS 72, 6,720 yards
GF: 1150 for one round, 1200 for two rounds
Designer:
Opened:
GM TOP 120 RANKING: 23