Masters Champions and Irish Gems

It’s officially the beginning of The 2018 Masters, “a tradition unlike any other” as legendary CBS announcer Jim Nantz says every year to start the broadcast. While Augusta National holds a special place in the hearts of everyone who’s won a green jacket, many Masters champions also have a strong connection to notable courses in Ireland.

In honor of the 2018 Masters, we’ve put together our top three Masters champions’ Irish gems, plus a special one from a golfer very close to our hearts here at Carr Golf.

Tiger Woods (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005), Portmarnock Golf Club

Joe Carr Tiger Woods

With back-to-back victories in 2001 and 2002, Tiger Woods shares the record for most consecutive Masters wins with Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo. He once referred to Portmarnock as “one of the most enjoyable links courses I have had an opportunity to play.”

Founded in 1894, Portmarnock consistently ranks among the world’s top links courses. Its signature hole, the captivating 15th, is known for its stunning sea views and supreme difficulty. With a trio of bunkers surrounding the green, the 204-yard par-3 is as daunting as it is beautiful. It will host the 2019 British Amateur in conjunction with nearby The Island Golf Club. Located just 15 minutes from the Dublin Airport, Portmarnock is an ideal locale to tee it up on arrival or getaway day.

Arnold Palmer (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964), Old Head Golf Links



Arnold Palmer Old Head
Arnold Palmer is one of only five Masters champions to capture a wire-to-wire victory, which he achieved in 1960. Our late founder, Joe “J.B” Carr, played countless rounds with Palmer over the years, including many practice rounds ahead of majors. The two knew each other for 60 years and would meet up whenever Palmer was in Ireland, a tradition which extended to Carr’s children. Two of his sons, Marty and Roddy, fondly recall playing a round with Palmer at Old Head.

The dramatic links course, occupying a rugged peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, boasts some of the most breathtaking vistas in the game. Unpredictable sea breezes and rolling topography create natural challenges enchanting even the most accomplished golfers.


Arnold Palmer Old Head Irish Gems


Carr was part of the design team at Old Head, which also included Ron Kirby, former designer at Jack Nicklaus’ Golf Design Services; the late, great Eddie Hackett, former Irish golf professional and golf course designer; Paddy Merrigan, Australian course architect and agronomist; Liam Higgins, one of Ireland’s best-known golf professionals; and Haulie O’Shea, building contractor extraordinaire. The course is best approached by helicopter, one of the most extraordinary arrivals to a first tee in the game.


Tom Watson (1977, 1981), Ballybunion Golf Club

Jack Nicklaus Tom Watson

Tom Watson, two-time Masters winner and eight-time major champion, was elected millennium captain of Ballybunion in 1999. He was already an honorary life member of the club, a distinction he shares with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, among others. Watson first played the course in 1981, when practicing to defend his Open title at Royal St George’s.

Established in 1893, Ballybunion celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. Boasting two traditional links layouts – the stately Old Course and newer Cashen Course – the distinguished club has anchored numerous golf trips over the years from the U.S. to Southwest Ireland. The Old Course underwent significant renovations in 2016, which are on full display for the 2018 season. These enhancements include renovated greens, refined approaches, re-turfed surrounds and at least 38 re-vetted bunkers, all creating as true a links golf experience as one could want.

J.B. Carr, Royal Portrush Golf Club

Joe Carr Green jacket

Although he never won a green jacket, J.B. Carr did receive one for attending the tournament as a member of Augusta National. This jacket now resides in the Joe Carr Room at Sutton Golf Club. Carr holds an important place in Masters history as, in 1967, he became the first Irishman to play in the event. He would go on to compete in the tournament the next two years, posting his best finish (52nd) in 1968.

Joe Carr British Amateur Championships

In 1960, Carr – Ireland’s greatest ever amateur golfer – won one of his three British Amateur Championships on Royal Portrush’s Dunluce Links. Northern Ireland’s only layout in the British Open rota, Royal Portrush is set to host the 2019 edition marking just the second time golf’s oldest and most international championship will be staged outside of Scotland and England. Dunluce – one of the property’s two superb courses – plays through rollicking dunes with dramatic elevation changes challenging even the most accomplished golfers.

Royal Portrush New 7th Hole

Recent updates ahead of The Open include two new holes, a reshaped 8th green and several new back tees to lengthen the course by nearly 200 yards. It’s as “world-class” as a layout can be.

If you wish to enquire about playing the courses mentioned above or further courses throughout Ireland or Scotland, please contact our travel team today using the contact form below, or call +353 1 822 6662 or US Toll Free 1 855 617 5701. 

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