He hasn’t got the job yet and has no idea when it might go ahead but David McLay Kidd admits that he’d love to sink his teeth into creating a new “iconic” links on Ireland’s north coast.
The Scottish designer is likely to get the nod to design the new course at Runkerry, just a few miles west of the famous Giant’s Causeway, after planning permission for the £100m project was granted this week.
“The good news is that Runkerry is a fantastically strong piece of land,” said McLay Kidd, who has created courses such as Bandon Dunes and Fancourt. “If a golf course can be built on that land, which it will now given the recent decision, it’s going to become an iconic golf course.
“It will further secure Northern Ireland’s place on the golfing map along with Royal Portrush, Royal County Down and all those other fabulous courses. It will do no harm, it will only do good.”
More than 10 years after the first planning application was lodged, the developers have overcome National Trust resistance and obtained planning permission.
Dr Alistair Hanna, a 67-year old New York City-based developer who grew up in Rory McIlroy’s home town of Holywood, has been planning and promoting Runkerry for more than a decade.
He has a 125-year lease on 356 acres outside the village of Bushmills, where he seeks to build a 120-room hotel, 75-room villas, a spa and a links-style golf course and brought in McLay Kidd to look at the land several years ago.
“I worked on the project a long time ago. I remember I stayed in the Bushmills Inn,” added Kidd who launched his own design business in 1998.
“The design we produced for the golf course was purely a layout. It was just a stick drawing, a routing of where each hole might go.
“Getting the planning permission was a giant hurdle, but it’s not the only hurdle. Just look at today’s economy, it has to be paid for next.
“I’m not the client. I don’t know what stage Dr Hanna has reached with development strategies, time lines etc.
“The conversations I have had with in him in recent months was all about the planning permission issue. Without that, any further conversation was pointless, but I’m ready to go if he calls, the land is as good as I have seen for a links course.”