The par-5 first is considered one of the best holes by Greg Norman at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland. (Courtesy of Trump International) The view from the fourth green showcases the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland rising in the distance and the beach. (Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor)

Martin Hawtree already making an impact at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland

This week has been a busy one for Joe Russell, the general manager at the newly christened Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland.

Architect Martin Hawtree is on the property, as are many important international members. Russell and Trump spokesman George Sorial declined to give specifics or a timetable for any work that Hawtree might do redesigning Greg Norman's links, but they did talk about the impact Trump has already made since buying the five-star resort in County Clare in southwest Ireland in February.

"Doonbeg has never played better," Russell said. "It is member's week this week. It is off the charts the feedback we are getting."

The golf course, dating to 2002, has recovered after storms disfigured the coastline this winter. Four holes along the shore -- the par 4s at nos. 5 and 6 and par 3s at no. 9 and the signature 14th hole -- were damaged, Russell said. Superintendent Scott Marr, Course Manager John Bambury and their staffs spearheaded much of the cleanup effort.

Immediate tweaks by Hawtree have the course playable, while long-term plans are still being evaluated.

Hawtree has built a new fifth green farther inland than the original, playing 268 yards from the member tees and 312 from the tips.

Russell indicated the revamped 368-yard sixth hole, featuring a couple new tees, a new fairway and new green, gives players a taste of what's potentially to come from Hawtree.

The ninth plays 134 yards from the member tees and 177 from all the way back.

The old 14th hole, a pint-sized par 3 of 111 yards cut from a dune, had its detractors despite its beauty. Russell said the replacement par 3 of 137 yards tees off from an elevated perch with some pretty spectacular views of its own.

"In golf terms, it is much stronger," he said. "It's got the ocean, the lodge and the beach in the background."

New grass walking pathways, similar to what Hawtree did at Trump International Golf Links Scotland, add to the overall aesthetics of an already scenic links.

Two recent reviews at gave mixed reviews. User mikemcgreevy1, who played the course in late May, called it "overrated" and gave it three stars. He wrote: "Don't waste your time just because it's a Trump property." User 01gooseman, though, called the course "superb" and handed out five stars after playing it in early May, adding: "Views (the) best I have come across."

Donald Trump and his son Eric Trump have visited several times already, a commitment Russell said he believes will translate into a bright future for the resort that just six months ago was languishing in bankruptcy.

"Trump really wants to give this place a shot in the arm," Russell said.

Jul 25, 2014

Join the conversation

Related Links

Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.