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2008 British Isles update: A Banner Year in the U.K.

Courtesy of Celtic Manor A Banner Year in the UK

Photo: Courtesy of Celtic Manor

New Accomodations

Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt Enniskerry, County Wicklow

Scotland may be arguing over Donald Trump’s proposal to build a golf resort in Aberdeen, but Ireland appears to have no such qualms about similar projects on its soil. The republic’s newest arrival is this two-hundred-room Ritz-Carlton in the woodlands north of Dublin. Golf is already well established on the Powerscourt estate, thanks to a pair of championship parkland layouts. Peter McEvoy’s East Course debuted in 1996 and has hosted the Irish PGA Championship; the West, by David McLay Kidd, opened eight years later. The Palladian-style hotel exudes Ritz-Carlton luxury, and its flagship restaurant, Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt, is the English celebrity chef’s first venture in Ireland. There’s also an old-fashioned Irish pub furnished with antique pieces and a thirty-thousand-square-foot spa, as well as fishing streams and horseback riding trails woven throughout the verdant, thousand-acre estate.

Rooms: from $365. Green Fee: $145. Tee Times: 011-353/1274-8888, ritzcarlton.com.

Scotland

New Courses

Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse and Gardens Cupar, Fife

In 1906 the owners of this estate near St. Andrews laid out a nine-hole course to complement their newly built mansion house. The modest course, measuring just over two thousand yards, survived until 1939, when it was plowed under during the war effort. Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, the Hill of Tarvit has completed a multiyear project to bring golf back to the estate—as it was played a century ago. A local enthusiast has re-created the “golf field” based on an old map and the advice of course designer Peter McEvoy. Players will be given a set of original hickories—a spoon, a driving iron, a mashie, a niblick and a putter—and the Tarvit staff, steeped in golf history and dressed in period garb, will be available to offer pointers on using the antique clubs.

Green Fee: $70. Tee Times: golfandthistle.com.

Isle of Eriska, Hotel, Spa and Island Ledaig, Oban

Located twelve miles north of Oban, the so-called gateway to Scotland’s western isles, this five-star resort sits at the center of a private three-hundred-acre island. A tranquil atmosphere and marvelous Highland scenery are signatures of the main house, built in 1884 in the Scottish baronial style. A decade ago, the owners planned a genteel ripple in their tranquility, commissioning the layout of a nine-hole golf course. There’s been no urgency to the project, but late this summer the final three holes will be ready and the full nine—routed between peat bogs, along the beach and back to the hotel—will open for play. It’s not Carnoustie, but that’s not the idea.

Rooms: from $590. Reservations: 011-44/1631-720-371, eriska-hotel.co.uk.

Renaissance Club North Berwick, East Lothian

Given that it’s home to Muirfield, North Berwick and Gullane No. 1, among other gems, you might have thought the golf options in East Lothian were full to overflowing. But this spring an elite upstart will join the party in the form of the Renaissance Club. The club’s biggest selling point is its Tom Doak–designed course, which abuts Muirfield—the two eighteens share a stone-wall border. Doak has created a rolling 7,435-yard course that, although not a links, offers spectacular views of the Firth of Forth and the Bass Rock. Roughly half of the club’s members are from the United States, and the rest are from the United Kingdom and beyond. Membership requires an initiation bond of $100,000. A lodge (the first of seven) is scheduled to open this spring, consisting of eighteen bedrooms and a temporary clubhouse.

Membership Inquiries: 909-223-2140, trcaa.com.

Renovated Accomodations

Gleneagles Hotel Auchterarder, Perthshire

Gleneagles has never taken its celebrity for granted, and this year is no exception. As part of a $36 million expansion, the Gleneagles Hotel has added ten top-floor Spirit suites with views over the Perthshire glens and the resort’s three golf courses. The Caledonian Railway Company, which built Gleneagles in 1924, was fascinated by grand ocean liners and the era’s Art Deco style. An affinity for chintz may have gotten in the way in the decades that followed, but designer Amanda Rosa, who is known for her vision of relaxed contemporary luxury, has now fashionably updated the accommodations. The designer’s Spirit suites provide another level of splendor, as does her sumptuous new spa.

Spirit Suites: $2,400–$3,800. Reservations: 866-463-8734, gleneagles.com.

Wales

New Course

Celtic Manor Resort Coldra Woods, the Usk Valley

After the completion of a new clubhouse and two and a half years of earthmoving to create nine new holes and redesign nine existing ones, Celtic Manor is finally ready to host the 2010 Ryder Cup. The Twenty Ten Course is a 7,493-yard par seventy-one replete with the kind of risk-reward options that make for compelling match play. Its downhill par-five eighteenth, measuring 613 yards, will tempt players to go for the green in two, but only if they can hit long drives that avoid a series of mounds on the right and bunkers on the left. From there, the approach must carry a cluster of ponds to reach an elusive raised green. Indeed, there’s water almost everywhere on the course, a criticism sure to be voiced by those who say one of the classic Welsh links would have made a more suitable Ryder Cup stage.

Green Fees: $176–$264. Tee Times: 011-44/1633-410-262, celtic-manor.com.

Renovated Course

Marriott St. Pierre Hotel & Country Club Chepstow, Monmouthshire

The Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor won’t be the first international golf competition to be played in Wales. The Old Course at this estate in southeastern Wales served as the site of the 1996 Solheim Cup (and has hosted more than a dozen European Tour events). Not to be overshadowed by the better-known Celtic Manor Resort, the Marriott St. Pierre is beefing up its two parkland eighteens: the Mathern, opened in 1975, and the championship Old, a 1962 layout by C. K. Cotton. European Golf Design, an arm of the European Tour, will complete its upgrade of the Mathern this year and continue a larger overhaul of the Old, including the construction of new green complexes and the addition of nearly two hundred yards in order to bring it up to the magic number of seven thousand.

Green Fees: $72–$152 (Old); $52–$80 (Mathern). Tee Times: 011-44/1291-625-261, marriott.co.uk.

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