Coming on the heels of the 2012 Irish Open, Fota Island Resort is a hive of activity this weekend, where the final preparations are being made for the Audi Cork Irish Masters, which will see some of the game’s most prominent young stars in action from next Wednesday.
The Audi Cork Irish Masters is returning to Fota Island following its highly regarded debut on the 888poker.com PGA EuroPro circuit last year, when Paul Reed won the three-day tournament on The Belvelly championship course at the resort.
The Deerpark Course, another of the three championship parkland courses at Fota Island Resort, will be used for next week’s Audi Cork Irish Masters, which will be held from Wednesday July 4th to next Friday.
For the organisers of the 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour, a ‘third tier’ of European professional golf and a proving ground for future champions, Fota Island has among the best courses on the tour.
Operations manager for the EuroPro Tour, Danny Nickless, said this week: “Last season’s event on The Belvelly was incredibly successful and Fota Island Resort proved a big hit with the players. The resort will again provide a challenging, scenic and exciting test for our players on The Deerpark this year, and we're sure they will relish returning to the venue."
A par-71, 6927-yard course, which hosted the Irish Open in 2001 and 2002, The Deerpark is renowned for its receptive greens and strategic bunkering, which has impressed even the most experienced professionals, including Padraig Harrington.
Harrington is particularly effusive about the par-5 18th hole at the Deerpark, with its narrow tree-lined shot to the top of a hill, and then on to an island green in front of the clubhouse. It’s regarded as one of the most picturesque holes on any Irish golf course, and for Harrington, it’s the ultimate risk and reward golfing challenge.
"I don't think you can get a more beautiful golf hole,” Harrington has said of the Deerpark 18th. The setting is gorgeous. You get to the top of the hill and it is all presented to you; the clubhouse, the lake, mature trees, bunkers, shrubs — magnificent. And doesn't everybody like being faced with a downhill shot to a big green?”