Nicklaus to Redesign 36 holes in Northwest Ireland

St. Patrick’s Golf Links already has history, albeit a young one, and now they are bringing in Jack Nicklaus to make their future even brighter. The Relton Development group announced Tuesday that the “Golden Bear” and his team from Nicklaus Design will undertake the re-design of its existing 36 holes of seaside golf in Northwest Ireland to make it the centerpiece of a proposed world-class resort.

St. Patrick’s Golf Links consists of two 18-hole, true links courses playing across the rugged coastline in Northeast Donegal, with views of the Sheephaven Bay.

“The land and the dunes comprising St. Patrick's is what Ireland golf is supposed to be – raw, natural, wild, windy, with bunkers, carved and created by Mother Nature,” said Tim Kenny, executive vice president of Nicklaus Design. "It is absolutely an incredible site.”

The first of the two courses, Maheramagorgan, was designed by Eddie Hackett in 1982. But construction did not begin for 11 years and was not fully completed until in 1996 –the last piece of sod laid two months before Hackett’s death on October 31, 1996. The second course, Trá Mór, was designed in 1996 by former Royal County Down assistant professional Joanne O'Haire, and is said to be the only course in Ireland designed by a female.

“I have never been in a place, where no matter what hole is being played, the views constantly change, yet each view is dramatic in and by itself,” said Richard McCafferty, a partner in Relton Development along with William McCafferty and Noel Murray. “You have the mountain range; you have the sea, you have the beach; you have the bay. There is a 3½-mile beach that runs alongside the site and we enjoy about a mile of it. This is truly a special place and we are eager to see what Jack can do given such a canvas.”

Construction of the golf course is expected to begin in January. When the overall project is completed, the resort at St. Patrick’s Golf Links will consist of a 5-star luxury hotel, with a spa and complete leisure facilities, to be managed by a well-known international hotel operator. Full planning permission has already been obtained for the hotel development. The next phase of the development by Relton will include up to 200 luxury apartments, houses and retail outlets.

The partners who make up Relton Development have a combined 25 years in the hotel, restaurant and bar industry in the greater Dublin area, and over the last 10 years, have also been involved in residential and commercial development.

Nicklaus was in Donegal Tuesday for a visit to the site and to officially sign the contract. Jack and Nicklaus Design were introduced to Relton Development two months ago by Thomas Crumlish and Patrick Sharkey of the firm Crumlish & Sharkey, who are project and financial consultants with clients throughout the United Kingdom, as well as Canada and Australia.

“I’m a businessman, but my partner Thomas is a golfer,” Sharkey said. “We went to the developers and we said, ‘If you’re going to go 5-star, then you have to get the best to design the golf courses. There’s only one man to get – Jack Nicklaus.’ ”

Nicklaus Design has been involved in 290 courses open for play in 28 countries and 37 states. Of those, Jack Nicklaus has designed, co-designed or re-designed 242 courses around the globe, 45 of which have been ranked in various national or international Top-100 lists. Nicklaus Design currently has 58 courses under construction in 14 different countries, with 32 of those courses outside the United States. For additional information, visit