The golf course at Adare Manor officially reopened last week, marking the final stage in the redevelopment of the Adare Manor estate after it was purchased by the McManus family. The course closed in late 2015, and soon after world renowned designer Tom Fazio was commissioned to oversee the redevelopment of the course. Over two years later the property has been transformed, and has been christened “parkland perfection” by one tour professional. In typical McManus fashion, he staged an exhibition match to officially launch the course and the 2020 Pro Am. And even more typical the match was comprised of golfers who have won seven majors, three WGC’s and a Ryder Cup Captaincy. Paul McGinley and Rory McIlroy took on Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington, with the match concluding in a sporting half.
JP McManus had put up a €500,000 prize fund which has shared between the chosen charities of the four players. Speaking at the launch of the Pro Am, Padraig Harrington was quick to praise the redesigned course. “What you have here now is parkland perfection” said Harrington. “I think, when JP started out, he thought, ‘let’s make a few changes here’ but Tom Fazio convinced him somehow to go a lot further down that line.” Harrington also commented on the severe run-offs, sharp bunkers and quick greens, stating that they were almost too fast, but he was also quick to add that the course was tournament ready. “Shane and myself were always talking about how we’d love to play on a course in as good condition as those on tour. Playing here during the week would get our game ready for major Tour tournaments”, added the three-time major winner.
While the exhibition match marked the official opening of the course, it also marked the launch of the 2020 staging of the JP McManus Pro Am. This is the sixth staging of the event, and even though the event is over two years away interest is already building. Once again, many charities in the Mid-west, including North Cork will organise local fund-raising classics in a bid to enter a team into the Grand Qualifier tournament in May 2020. A number of teams will qualify to play in the Pro-Am itself, in 2010, 46 teams took part in the grand qualifier, with eight teams going forward to the Pro-Am. Over 9,000 club golfers took part in classics and qualifiers, with each event raising funds for their own favoured charity. From a relatively small beginning in 1990 in Limerick Golf Club where the event raised over €1m, to the 2010 Adare event which raised over €43m, the five events have raised €100m for charitable and not-for-profit groups in the Mid-West of Ireland. In the absence of an event in 2015, the McManus family established a €40m benevolent fund.
Tour professionals Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Pádraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, JB Holmes, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie, Fred Couples, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer have previously played the event. The list includes almost 30 major winners, and it will certainly be added to by July 2020. Sports and entertainment celebrities include Samuel L Jackson, Sir Alex Ferguson, Michael Douglas, Michael Flatley, Hugh Grant, Eddie Jordan, Gary Lineker, AP McCoy, Martin O’Neill, Michael Owen, Niall Quinn, Harry Redknapp, Jamie Redknapp and Keith Wood. Many of the sports stars and celebrities have already marked the 6th and 7th of July 2020 into their diaries, and fans too can now book their place. The event attracted over 80,000 spectators over two days the last time it was staged. Be warned however, that back in 2010 the event was a sell-out with course full signs going up outside Adare on both days. Booking are now open on the jpmcmanusproam.com website. Like last time the ticket will take the form of a hat, and the hat covers both days of the Pro Am. Entry to the Pro Am is €50 per person, which is great value considering it covers two days of top class sporting entertainment.
The new course is sure to be a tough test for the tour professionals, measuring over 7,500 yards from the tournament tee boxes. Although there is no real rough, the first cut off the fairway will be tough enough to test the precision of tour players, and with severe run offs on all the greens accuracy with short irons will be essential. The closely mown edges of the greens will punish any loose approaches, with tough decisions following any missed greens. The greenside bunkers too have all been placed strategically, and while they contain the best of sand, getting up and down or even holding the green could be a challenge. Although the course is certainly a challenge, it will still be a treat to play the new Fazio masterpiece. The Golf Course at Adare doesn’t come cheap, and the days open singles or Autumn specials for €50 are probably gone. The rack rate for this season is €355, and you’ll need to add €55 for a caddy which is mandatory at the new course. It’s also fair to say that the transformative approach from McManus and Fazio has turned Adare into a completely different proposition. It’s very much in the tier one courses in the world, and it’s probably fair to say that there’s very few courses to come close in Europe.