Why Ireland’s Newest Course Should Be On Your Must-Play List

Two hours south of Dublin lies the Emerald Isle’s most photographed beach. The white sands of Curracloe beach stood in for the coast of Normandy in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and were a key filming location in John Cowley’s Brooklyn. Come 2026, Curracloe Links will buddy up to the shores of County Wexford’s premier sunbathing spot.

“Wexford has a rich history and heritage from famine ships departing from South Wexford to the Irish Rebellion of 1798, so battles were actually fought on this land which is quite incredible when you think about it,” says Marcus Doyle, Curracloe’s director of golf.

Even the keenest of traveling golfers intent on circumnavigating the island often skip over the southeast region—the closest club of note to Curracloe would be The European Club, an hour’s drive north.

Aiming to fill the relative golf desert—when it comes to top-shelf layouts—is Wexford-based developer Neville Hotels whose portfolio includes Druids Glen Hotel and Golf Resort in County Wicklow. They’ve invested €20 million into the project. The first phase, the new Ravenport Resort, opening this spring, is a 50-room luxe hotel and spa. Golfers can stay in villas sleeping four abutting the course.

“This is so special because it is going to join the entire island of Ireland together. The southeast will finally have another prominent links to live alongside the European Club, Portmarnock, Royal Dublin and The Island. This is really going to connect the east to the southwest,” Doyle says. 

Groundbreaking on Curracloe Links, the handiwork of Dana Fry and Jason Straka (the design dream team that brought us Erin Hills, Calusa Pines, Shelter Harbor and more), is set for next month. The plan is for the golf course to be ready in two years.

The permitting and planning process to get this land golf-course-ready and overcome red tape has been a quarter-century endeavor. Straka, past president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, is stoked to have his firm given the green light.

“The opportunity presented itself and I love Ireland anyway—I love to play golf there and I love the people. Not just because Marcus is there—but he’s good too.  It’s always interesting because people go, ‘Would you rather play links golf in Ireland or Scotland?’  I say ‘That’s a tough choice but I love to go to Ireland for the people because to me that’s what makes golf trips.”

Straka relates a tale of what was meant to be a quick pit stop between rounds that stretched into an afternoon of bellying up to the bar and gabbing with strangers soon to be fast friends.    

“We were driving between two courses and needed to use the men’s room and stopped in a little town with a pharmacy, that was shut, and a pub. The whole place is filled with big rugby guys and they’re all looking at us dressed in our golf clothes. They said,  ‘Where are you guys from?’ Two hours later, we stumbled out of the pub.”

When Straka laid eyes on the site in the middle of winter, clouds and rain dispelled the notion that the “sunny southeast of Ireland” expression was meant to be literal.

The next day, the skies cleared and a dune-strewn canvas with the backdrop of the Irish sea came into focus. Beyond the splendor of the shimmering ocean and pretty vistas of the city of Wexford in the distance, Straka was struck by the character and charm of the stone walls and thatched roofs of neighboring properties—not to mention the scores of wandering wooly creatures.

“When you get the back nine of Curracloe, you lose sight of the ocean but then you have sheep farms which all surround the golf course. On any given day you may have a thousand sheep out milling about on these adjacent fields. It’s just quintessential Ireland. When you’re there, there’s a sense of place and that’s what the best golf courses do.”

Angling for the title of Straka’s favorite hole so far is No. 12, a par-3 on the highest point of the property that plays over a chasm of gorse with a green snugged up against a rock wall and a wee Irish country road running behind it. 

Like all Fry/Straka courses, each is distinct; you won’t find another that feels remotely similar. Aesthetic diversity is a source of pride for the design outfit.  

“If you went to Belleaire or Erin Hills or Union League—there’s not one thing you could say. It’s not like, ‘Here’s a Pete Dye course—the bunkers and shaping look the same.’  You’d be hard pressed [to find similarities].”

“When I heard Jason got the job, I looked up as many of his courses as I could and everything is so unique” Doyle echoed.

Straka recognizes that, while golf may be the draw to Curracloe Links, it is just one piece of the experiential puzzle and it needs to be complemented by exceptional services, accommodations, and amenities. 

Planned ancillaries include a lighted putting course and a whisky bar. “The intention is to have a small boutique clubhouse with the villas with a whiskey bar where you can take your Irish whiskey and go out on the putting course, have that quintessential Irish golf experience and enjoy it.”

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