Conveniently located less than 30 minutes from Dublin, this superb 18 hole USGA specification championship golf course is the gem of the Ryder Cup countryside. Set in beautiful surroundings with the river Liffey bordering a number of holes and the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains forming its’ backdrop. Using the natural landscape to its fullest, this 150 acre course has many interesting hazards making it a challenge for golfers of all levels.
Cleverly designed by local PGA professional, Tommy Halpin, the front 9 form the boundary of the course and completely enclose the back 9. The course is unusual in that it opens with two par 5’s, the first of which is a formidable 604 yards, the second a gentler 502 yards. The signature par 3 17th plays from tee to green across water. The course concludes with another par 5 with the three-tiered green flanked by a pair of shamrock shaped bunkers. At 7063 yards, this par 73, championship course brings great variety and challenge to every round and makes Millicent very attractive and enjoyable to play.
The flagship hole is undoubtedly the superb 17th, with 198yds from the back tee, carry over water to a small green. and large bunkers to the rear.
– Tommy Halpin
The driest inland course in Leinster
Millicent has been described as the driest course in Leinster. The land the course occupies is gravel based ensuring superb natural drainage all year round. The sand based greens are built to the highest USGA specification and full greens are playable throughout the year. Millicent remains open when many courses in the surrounding region are closed.
Hole by Hole Guide
By Ray Keane
Millicent Golf Club has – in its short history – attracted numerous admirers. Most who have been fortunate to play here will tell you about the long par fives or the tricky par threes or the par fours that play a different way every day. For me, the beauty of the course is that there are actually 36 holes here.
There are the eighteen that we have all played and enjoyed and there are the same eighteen when the wind blows. Some of Ireland’s more famous golf courses can be shown up when they don’t have the protection of the fierce winds we are accustomed to. Millicent doesn’t need any wind but when it does blow you will need to use every club in your bag.
The round begins with a daunting hole. The first is a long par 5 – 604 yards from the back tee, with an uphill drive. There are fairway bunkers to gather wayward drives left and right and there are two areas of young plantations on the left and right. The right side of the first is out of bounds. The approach to the first green is uphill and the green slopes back to front with an inviting bunker on the front left. There is a generous green but anything too far back will leave almost impossible putts if the pin is placed on the front.
The second is another par five that is a must-birdie for anyone who has serious aspirations of winning competitions. It is a dogleg right with out of bounds again on the right. The green can be tricky enough as it is about ten yards at the front mushrooming out to about twenty five yards at the back. A good hole for those fortunate enough to slice their balls off the tee, so long as you are long enough to cross the white stakes on the right.
The third is the first of the par fours measuring 406 yards from the back pegs. There is out of bounds on the right with the boundary fence closely guarded by tall trees that will provide some with lucky escapes and Ryder Cup bounces back onto the fairway! The green again slopes from back to front offering up some tricky pin positions.
Stunning is the first word that came to mind when I first played the fourth. It is a short par three with the River Liffey as a beautiful backdrop. Measuring only 159 yards from the back tees it is still a formidable challenge although indexed as the easiest hole. Club selection can vary by as much as three or four clubs, depending on the wind and even then when you think you have it right you have to take into account the difference in elevation from tee to green. There is space over the back but if the nasty green keeper has cut the grass that day you will be in the water. And, there is some lovely bunkering at the front as well.
The fifth is the first of four holes along the Liffey. The more courses I play, the more cautious I get when I see short par fours on the card before I tee off. The fifth is one such hole. It is a hole you will have to play from each tee to see exactly how difficult it is. The members tee at least offers you some hope of not slicing into the lake placed in the fairway, but still leaves a tough second shot. It only 240 yards to carry the lake but you are often left with a pitch to a green sloping devilishly towards the Liffey. A definite heartbreaker!
The sixth is again along the Liffey with a plantation area on the left of the fairway. The fairway here is quite narrow ending with a series of bunkers that cross the fairway. One of the more difficult par 4’s, it measures 432 yards from the back tees and you can be left with a very long second shot. The green is generous with bunkering short of the green and the Liffey just to the right to catch wayward approach shots.
Hole seven is the last hole along the Liffey with a straight fairway, plantation to the left and Liffey to the right. Everything appears straightforward until you see the green. The Liffey cuts into the front right encouraging those less than brave to push their approach shots left where there is a substantial bunker waiting. If you have chickened out and gone left and the pin is on the right of the green, you will need to say your prayers or hope there is enough dirt on your ball to stop when you play onto the green as everything slopes off towards the Liffey. Par here will always be a welcome score.
The eighth hole is an uphill, dogleg left, par four. It measures 356 yards from the back tees and has out of bounds around the shoulder of the dogleg on the right. It is actually quite a tricky hole as the plantation which lies between you and the green will catch drives trying to fight the wind or avoid the OB. When the wind blows it is quite easy to let your tee shout drift into the OB. The approach is far from easy with a raised green protected by a huge bunker to the front left. The green is has two tiers and is very quick back to front, three putts will be a regular occurrence here.
The front nine finishes with a hole that will confuse and bemuse you every time you play it. The card says it is 189 from the back tees, but it will play anything like 140 to 220 depending on the direction of the wind and whether there is any wind at all. And then the fact that you are playing from a raised tee to a green that slopes from front to back and right to left with some cruel pin positions.
The back nine begins with and intimidating dogleg par four. There is a lake to the right encouraging you to go left, but this will make your second shot longer and tougher. The carry over water is not as long as it looks and the fairway kicks right making your ball travel that bit further. The approach to the green is narrow with only one bunker protecting the green, which slopes back to front, but watch out for the water on the left which creeps up the side of the green.
11th & 12th
The eleventh and twelfth seem to be similar holes according to the card as they are side by side and measure roughly similar in yardage. But when the wind blows, two good strikes are required to hit the eleventh green while a good drive on the twelfth will leave a short approach into the green. Hole eleven is indexed as one of the toughest and you will see why. Hole twelve, while being straightforward, has some nasty bunkers left and right of the fairway waiting to gather up any loose tee shots.
Thirteen is the first par five of the back nine and is regarded as the easiest par five. It still requires a few long shots to reach and a large green will certainly not yield too many birdies, never mind eagles.
The fourteenth is a dogleg par four down the hill. You can be forgiven for thinking you are at the beach when you look down the fairway here as there are bunkers everywhere. It measures 382 from the back tees and a good tee shot is needed as pin placements can be difficult with bunkers surrounding the green.
And so begins what I would consider to be one of the most difficult finishing four holes in the country. I don’t think you will disagree. Fifteen is a 187 yard par three played into a narrow, long green well protected by bunkers. Getting on the green will be an achievement in itself – staying on it and two putting another. A tough, strong hole made all the more difficult by a prevailing left to right wind.
Sixteen would be more at home in Stackstown than Kildare! It is a monster of a par five with a fairway sloping left to right. Bunkers on the right and plantation on the left encouraging you yet again to play right. This hole will break your heart unless you hit the right shot every time. The tee shot is tough, the second shot is tough and the approach (presuming you aren’t there in two) is just as tough with two awesome bunkers waiting to grab your ball. It is a cliché but par here any day is a good score.
Then you walk across to the frightening, challenging, mesmerising seventeenth. A par three played over the lake with carry all the way unless you want to be remembered as the coward who played down the right. I played a seven iron the first time I played here and a three wood the last time. The wind will scare the pants off you if it is blowing.
And finally, the eighteenth hole. From the back tees it measures 590 yards. There is water for about 400 yards on the left that should not cause too much concern if you can drive it straight. There is a large fairway that should set you up for an uphill second or third, depending on which tees you are playing from. The green is absolutely huge measuring almost fifty yards from front to back, split into three levels. A difficult finishing hole to a tough finishing stretch.