By Ann Liguori
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The gorgeous setting for the 2011 Solheim Cup, which will be held September 23-25, featuring the top American women professional golfers against the top European players, is Killeen Castle in County Meath, just 40 minutes from Dublin Airport.
Killeen Castle is a development set amongst the historic grounds of a restored 12th century Norman castle. The 600 acres estate is now home to a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, meandering amongst the expansive setting of natural woodlands with beautiful views of Killeen Castle from a number of holes. The tricky, undulating greens consist of bent grass. The course accommodates all playing levels but measures as long as 7700 yards from the tips. And with the ‘four seasons in a day’ weather potential in Ireland, it is good to know that the course’s innovative drainage system ensures that the course remains playable in any weather.
Last week, Killeen Castle provided a challenging test for the 2011 Solheim Cup Media tournament. It was a lot of fun navigating the lay-out, taking in the gorgeous scenery and views of the castle and to figure out the best place to attempt to land our approach shots on the tricky greens. I am pleased to announce that our American team beat the European Team that day by a significant number in the staple ford format that we played, although my team’s win that day was largely due to my partner, renowned photographer Larry Lambrecht. Larry also enjoyed the course and thought it presented ‘a true test for the professional golfer – the complex greens and the myriad of bunkers will challenge the best of them,” he says. “There are wide fairways and plenty of avenues for the mid handicapper to score as well.”
Before the match, we got a tour of the impressive facility which offers a Dave Pelz short game school with a chipping and putting practice facility that looks incredibly inviting, an expansive driving range with at least a dozen target areas and a luxurious clubhouse.
Roddy Carr, the son of the legendary Irish golfer, J.B. Carr, and the Tournament Director for the 2011 Solheim Cup was on hand to talk about the upcoming Solheim Cup: “The Solheim Cup is the pinnacle of ladies professional golf and some of the biggest names in the women’s game will be playing in Killeen Castle from Michelle Wie to Laura Davies. We expect large scale support from the Irish along with a strong European and American contingent travelling to the country. The atmosphere at the event in Meath will be like no other event on the tour and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this event on home soil.”
Keith McCormack, Head of Golf & Business Tourism, Irish Tourist Board, added: “Ireland hosted a hugely successful Ryder Cup in 2006 and we are now proud to follow this with The 2011 Solheim Cup. It’s a highlight in this year’s Irish golf and sporting calendar and we are looking forward to welcoming both teams and their supporters to Ireland. The event will be a great occasion and will offer not only great golf but also entertainment and activities for everyone in a unique Irish setting.”
Alison Nicholas, the captain of the European Team, has travelled around Ireland this past year to teach clinics and promote the Solheim Cup. Nicholas’ 18 professional titles include the 1987 Women’s British Open and the 1997 US Open Champion when she held off Nancy Lopez. She represented Europe in the Solheim Cup six times on three victorious teams in 1992, 2000 and as Vice Captain in 2003. Rosie Jones, a member of seven American Solheim Cup teams, starting with the inaugural one in 1990, and winner of 13 LPGA Tour titles, will captain the American team.
The American team has won 8 Solheim Cup competitions to Europe’s three. All of Europe’s wins have come on European soil.
It will be fun to see which team will prevail on the demanding course and what Mother Nature may have in store. But the most difficult test on the Killeen Castle course could be the greens. I survived the greens at Killeen Castle and lived to tell about it!
Be sure to visit Ann’s web site at www.annliguori.com to purchase her intriguing interviews on DVD with sports and entertainment legends.