The Monty at Carton House - its like its architect!!!

The Monty at Carton House - its like its architect!!!

My reviews are part journal and part eco review on how golf courses in Ireland are keeping up (or not) with sustainable practices. It’s a sort of modern scorecard approach to golf reviews!!

Posting a great score – Carton House!

As luck would have it I have started with a course that has serious sustainability and major tournament credentials – The Montgomerie at Carton House. The course is like its architect, you either love it or hate it, but on its day it can be top class!! 

Highlight reel:

  • Opened for play in 2002 and designed by the sometimes-dour Scots man ‘Monty’- Colin Montgomerie.
  • An inland links seems like a contradiction, however the Monty does a decent job of imitation.
  • Down through the years it has hosted numerous Irish Opens (winners enclosure includes Stephen Dodd, Thomas Bjorn and Paul Casey – not a bad line-up).
  • Green fees range, we paid €40 (in a semi open in March), at the height of the summer the Golf Ireland rate goes up to €90.
  • I played a fresh March day, with no wind and rain ideal conditions.

 

Sustainable - Committed to Green

This deeper look into Irish golf sustainability practices is new, so by picking Carton House first it kind of feels like getting a hole in one the first time you hit a golf ball, everything after is most likely going to be a disappointment!! We hope we are wrong but they have posted some solid scores.

The golf and hotel complex has recently changed hands and the new owners are continuing the existing sustainability practices. It was first recognised for its commitment to the environment in 2006 when it received ‘Committed to Green’ award, which was the leading award at the time. 

The whole Carton complex extends to 1,100 acres and has beefed up their sustainability credentials with the joining of OnCourse with the GEO, the Golf Environmental Organisation. The GEO is a non-profit dedicated to helping advance sustainability in and through golf they are the R&A’s delivery partner. In essence they make it easy for clubs to track their sustainability practices and targets and provide accreditation when they have reached the bar. Check them out at https://sustainable.golf/. Carton is on course to accreditation in the coming months (its great to see other Irish golf courses on this list also).

The R&A want to promote sustainability through three aspects – nature, communities and resources. Carton given its location and unique landscape is blessed to have these elements within easy reach, but they are working hard on other aspects.

 

Carton boasts:

  • Its own water source, which provides enough water for the estate and golf courses
  • On site bee hives, those powerful little insects are vital for a balanced eco system
  • Charging ports for electric cars
  • Reduced carbon footprint with their whole buggy fleet going electric, they are also trialing electric mowers
  • The resort is also a SPAC (Special Area of Conservation), it’s a habitat for flora and fauna, the day we were there we saw a herd of red deer – big fans of deer here at Fia Links!!

 

One of the aspects we noticed when playing was that there was plenty of walkers out on the public trails that meander through the estate. We know it’s always not possible with space restrictions and insurance issues but it’s something we feel more golf clubs should embrace and open up the land for more people to use. It would be controversial for most golf clubs, but if Covid lockdown rules taught us anything most people are looking for more outdoor spaces to enjoy and discover. 

 

 Carton House , Fia Links

Performance

The Experience – They are spending the dosh!

The experience of golf is often underrated and a bad first impression in the pro-shop/clubhouse can taint your view of the course. Also, golf is expensive and time intensive, so you want to feel like you are getting value for money and to borrow a phrase ‘a good day out’.

First off, the facilities at Carton are up there with the best in the country and it’s the base for Golf Ireland’s operations. They have an excellent driving range, short game area etc, not that I spent much time there!!

Since the new owners came on board the ‘experience’ of Carton has lifted, the pro-shop is revamped along with the Carriage House bar and restaurant. The food is good and reasonably priced and it has a nice relaxed atmosphere.

The Course – take it or leave it 

Inland links, its not to everyone’s tastes. It’s a par 72 that measures 7,301 yards from the tips, thankfully we weren’t playing the tips but it even on pushed forward tees it felt long, that could be down to the time of year with limited roll and my lack of match practice!

There are plenty of bunkers but off the tee but the landing areas are generous, so there is forgiveness for the wayward drivers out there. The greens the day we played were immaculate, and rolled pure, which for the time of year is very impressive. With the contours of some of the greens you are left with interesting putts, in the summer when these are running hard and fast we can’t wait to go back!!

Being an inland links its difficult to get reference points (no trees, limited water etc) for some of the holes, because of this on reflection it is hard to remember some of the holes and their subtilties. The stand out holes for us were the 9th, 17th and 18th. In particular the 18th has a fantastic backdrop of the large country house with the river Rye in front. It does a decent job of imitation but its hard to get excited about it when you know how good the real stuff is!!

 

Strive For Better:

It needs some little touch ups, in particular some of the bunkers are showing their age. Its nothing major but with new owners you would suspect a refurb program will get this sorted in no time.

On some of the greens there were hoof marks from the herds of deer that roam the estate. Not much can be done about this and we are big fans of deer here so, leave them roam!!  

 

Course score:

Sustainability: 5 stars

Experience: 4 stars

Playability: 3.5 stars

Design: 3 stars

Condition: 4 stars

Value for money: 4 stars

Total: 23.5/30

For an overall experience Carton is up there, it has a relaxed resort golf feel which can be hard to achieve. We will be back in the summer to see if they can imitate the real feel of hard and fast links golf.  

 

 

To learn more about Carton House click here: https://www.cartonhouse.com/golf.html