Paul McGinley might be the European Ryder Cup captain but he is also a golfer with a passion for design and the qualities that go into making a course a great test of golf.
His upbringing at the James Braid designed Grange in the foothills of the Dublin mountains defined him as a player - a straight hitter with an ability to move the ball at will.
Asking a man who has already taken his first steps in golf design to pick his three favourite courses is almost cruel, but he gave it his best shot when we caught up with him last season.
Sunningdale New, Berkshire, England
"It’s an old Harry Colt design and he’s right up there as one of my favourite course designers. It’s partly because he has such great green designs but also because there is a high premium on working the ball around the golf course, forcing you to shape it both ways, which is something I love. I live on the course so I play it an awful lot and it’s just fantastic golf course, a real gem. Picking out a favourite hole is very tough but the par-five sixth is right up there. It’s only about 510 yards but it’s a special hole because not just from a design point of view but also because it is so aesthetically beautiful. You tee off high on a hill in the middle of gorse and heather and drive down to a fairway that’s cut out of the heather. Then you have a tough, uphill shot to a two-tiered green that’s heavily protected on the front right and left with bunkers. It’s just a beautiful, stunning hole and I’m just so lucky to live right on the course and that the club are very good in allowing me to play."
Portmarnock Golf Club, Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, Ireland
"As links golf courses go I think it is probably the fairest links golf course I have ever played and right up there on a par with Muirfield as two of the best links courses in the world. You can chase the ball into the greens and no matter which way the wind is blowing, it is always playable. There is always a way into the greens. The par-three 15th is obviously one of the most famous par-threes in the world and that’s the stand out thing about Portmarnock - the par threes are all very strong. Personally, I love the 12th which plays 177 yards from the very back tee to just 129 yards from the forward tee. It just shows you that par-threes don’t have to be 200-plus yards in order to be a great test. It just has a very well-designed green with a number of pin positions and playing out towards the sea, the views are just magnificent. It’s a shot that requires skill rather than strength. Then there’s a great finish to the course with that wonderful 18th, which is a great finishing hole. Even though we didn’t win, I have great memories of playing in the Walker Cup there in 1991."
Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, California, United States
"There are so many great courses in America so I think my third course would have to be Cypress Point. It’s just a magnificent golf course, particularly the finishing holes down by the sea with the par-three 16th with that big carry over the Pacific Ocean. That has to be one of the most iconic holes in golf. I just love courses by the sea and you get the feeling of being somewhere really special when you play at Cypress Point. You are at one with nature there and there is such a great variety of holes too from the inland holes with the dunes and the cypress trees and the wonderful bunkering to the spectacular holes down by the ocean. It’s just a really special place to be and a course I played many times in the AT&T National Pro-Am. You would never tire of playing Cypress Point. "