Christy O'Connor Jnr's design legacy lives on with the news that Concra Wood Golf Club in Co Monaghan will host the Irish Challenge from October 4-7.
The stunning, 7,300-yard Castleblayney design, takes over from Mount Wolseley in Carlow — another O'Connor Jnr gem — with the leading Irish player again to receive the Christy O’Connor Jnr Memorial Trophy.
The choice of Concra Wood, which hosted a PGA Europro Tour event from 2012 to 2014 — is expected to be confirmed by the European Challenge Tour this week.
Created with expert help from his uncle, the great Christy O’Connor Snr, it’s a spectacular parkland course offering lake views from every tee and Lough Mucknoo itself coming into play on 11 of the 18 holes.
The creation of Concra Wood is the final stage in the evolution of Castleblayney Golf Club, which was founded as a nine-hole course, opposite the entrance to Concra Wood, in 1905.
The course closed in 1949 but it was reborn in the grounds of Hope Castle in 1985 before moving to its current location in 2008 and expanding to 18 holes.
The idea for a new 18 hole course began in early 2000 when some members of Castleblayney Golf Club approached Coillte, the Irish Forestry Commission, with a view to securing 240 acres of woodland beside Lough Muckno for a new golf course.
The estate was purchased through the sale of shares in the development before O'Connor Jnr was asked to collaborate with his uncle Christy Snr in bringing to life a tract of land that was wild and rugged but full of potential.
“The first time I saw the site it was a bit of a mess,” recalled O'Connor Jnr. “There were a lot of tree stumps and ditches covered with briars, but the views were extraordinary. It's one of the finest natural sites I've seen and presented a great opportunity to create a course with such magnificent lake views.”
Many top players have been impressed by the design, which has the potential to host an Irish Open given that it's situated close to the M1, 30 minutes from Dundalk and just 75 minutes from Dublin or Belfast.
Paul McGinley was reportedly blown away by the quality of the venue when he hosted a corporate day there for Investec a few years ago.