The Royal Dublin Golf Club is home to a superb and very traditional golf links on Bull Island in Dublin Bay.
Bull Island is of historical interest in its own right. Captain William Bligh (of HMS Bounty fame) recommended the building of a sea wall to facilitate the safe approach of shipping into Dublin Port. The wall, known as the Bull Wall, was constructed in the early 1800s and a direct consequence was the formation of a sand bank which has grown ever since and has become Bull Island.
The famous golf architect Harry Colt was brought in to design the course following its destruction by the military during the First World War. His work brought a measure of fame to the Club and the course has been sought out for prestigious golfing events ever since.
In the late 1990s, the increasing length of players, but particularly the elite golfers, presented all golf courses with a considerable challenge. Responding, the members of The Royal Dublin Golf Club realised that change was needed to stay in the top echelon of Irish courses. The members desired a course that both tested the modern player and one that reflected its inheritance from Colt. Accordingly, the renowned architect, Martin Hawtree, was invited to redesign and upgrade the links for the modern game. At a cost of €4.5 million, the course has been re-designed in a manner which has shown respect to its inheritance, while challenging the longest hitters.
Hawtree made several significant changes. First of all, he raised and introduced significant contouring to all of the greens. Accompanying this raising of greens is a series of run-offs from which golfers of all levels must demonstrate imagination, touch and ability to achieve the coveted ‘up and down’.
His other significant change was to completely re-design the 6th, 7th and 8th holes. The course has been lengthened by over 400 yards in total and it is now in excess of 7,269 yards.
The result of the Hawtree changes now sees The Royal Dublin course ranked 13th out of 58 True Irish Links as published in a recent survey and considering there are only 246 True Links Courses Worldwide as defined by the Links Association the course has achieved a high ranking and continues to strive for higher rating.