Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Kids Golf... Yes They Do and Here's How to Entice Them In

One of the greatest joys of golf is that it’s a sport for everyone, whether you’re five or ninety five. It is a sport for the ages… and for all ages. This summer will have a multitude of kids' golf camps, all around the country, so why not let your kid/s get a taste for the game in a setting specifically designed for them?

 

I started learning when I was five. My grandfather cut down a set of old clubs, strapped them up with leather grips and introduced me to a game that quickly became a passion. A lot of kids learnt like I did, with hand-me-down clubs and a family member prepared to offer the necessary encouragement. The quality of the clubs didn’t matter; it was the quality of the time given that made the difference between falling in love with the game and deciding it was something never to be spoken of again.


I was 10 when I played my first junior competition at the club I called home (Greystones). My grandfather had cut down more clubs to suit my size and so I watched in amazement as my opponent – a year younger than I – arrived with a set of new clubs, new bag and a trolley. I had an old bag over my shoulder, hand-me-down clubs and a putter made from plastic tubing and skirting board. No, that’s not a joke. Back in those days golfers had one putter and it was the most valuable club in the bag. You didn’t go giving those out like cotton candy and so that was the putter I had. And that was the putter that helped me win. 

 

It is safe to say that things have changed since those days and junior golfing equipment is now readily available and aimed with precision at the different age groups. It makes my introduction to the game seem almost comical but there are two sides to this: producing dedicated equipment is a lucrative market for manufacturers; and it enables children of all ages to own clubs that are designed for them… and that they can call their own. This modern equipment offers ample opportunity to attract more kids to the sport and while not every child will be interested there is a far more defined path to help those who are.

 

“Your number one goal is to create an experience that helps the young golfer fall in love with the game,” says Michelle Holmes, the Director of Instruction at the Michelle Holmes School of Golf. Michelle is originally from Enniscrone but left for college in the United States in 2001, when she was offered a golf scholarship at Campbell University (North Carolina). She has since established a career there as an LPGA Teaching Professional. Her golf school has three locations in Virginia, and her accolades are considerable, including Top 50 US Kids Instructor, US Kids Golf Master Professional, GRAA Top 50 Growth Of The Game Professional, and LPGA Junior Leader Of The Year, NE Section. If anyone knows how to bring the youngest generation into the game, it’s Michelle. 

 

“Focus on three key things,” she says. “First, listen to your child. What you consider to be a fun day at the course may not be the same for them. Children just want to have fun, so let them explore the game in their own way. Accompany them to practice and explain things as they ask them… but remember, you are there to assist them in the journey and it is important that they are in the driver’s seat. Second, find the correct coach/programme. Try multiple coaches, if need be, to find someone whose expertise and personality fit the needs of your young golfer. But be sure your child has the final say. Their bond with the coach will ultimately determine how much they embrace learning the sport. Third, and most importantly, give your child the right equipment. You want them to develop the correct fundamentals which can only be done with the correct equipment.”  

 

You may just want to take your kid to the driving range and have them watch you bashing balls… before asking them to do the same. That may be cool for you but not for them. A key impediment to kids learning to love the game is a parent/other who tries to make everything happen too fast. Adults get wrapped up in perfect golf swings and scores instead of focusing on providing a fun environment for the child. They’re not afraid to miss a shot because they’ll simply try again. You want a child to play aggressively and with confidence. Here’s another no-no: don't give your child a detailed critique of their swing after every shot. Allow them to make mistakes without fear of repercussions.  

 

“How your child performs at age nine has absolutely no bearing on their future. How you react to their play does. Choose your words wisely,” suggests Michelle.

 

Visit any big golf retailer website (e.g. Odwyersgolf, McGuirks, Halpenny) and you’ll find an abundance of clubs and golf sets for children. The junior audience is well catered for but there’s far more to it than simply picking something off the shelf. It is important to be realistic and to give kids the optimum chance of enjoying their path into the game. To do that they need the appropriate clubs.

 

“All the kids who come into the shop have a fitting so we can identify the best clubs for them,” says Cian McNamara, Monkstown Golf Club’s Head Professional. “It may only take 15 minutes in our Trackman room but it is essential to consider the child’s height and their abilities. We calculate the optimum length of club and then look at their swing speed to determine the flex of the shaft. Get those right and the child will see a positive ball flight when they strike the ball and that motivates them onwards.” 

 

Cian works with the company US Kids Golf, which runs programmes across America – Michelle Holmes is a US Kids Golf Master Professional – and sells fitted equipment worldwide.

 

“Most of the children we end up fitting come on to our coaching programmes,” says Cian. “We keep them in groups of equal abilities and plan their activities. It’s important to have a good structure and it’s an area we are looking to expand.” 

 

Covid permitting, Cian and his team will be running coaching camps this year. They already have six groups of juniors with over 100 youngsters involved.

 

Michelle also works closely with US Kids Golf.

 

“Give your child the right equipment,” she repeats. “Too many children use clubs that are too long, too stiff and too heavy. It is very important that your child is fitted for the correct set of clubs because when a child plays with clubs that fit, he or she is able to develop consistent swings that will stay with them forever. Always remember that a child should grow out of their golf clubs, not into them.”

 

It may not be easy to justify expenditure on clubs when you don’t know if your child will actively engage with the sport. Perhaps they will lose interest after a few minutes of coaching. Indeed, it is not even a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’, says Michelle:

 

“My first rule is that less is more. Do not overload a new golfer with information. For every year of life, we get one minute of learning focus from a child. So, in a 45 minute class of seven year olds we have seven minutes of instruction time and 38 minutes of game-based learning. Get them involved in group activities as it’s more fun to do things with others their own age.”

 

Children should be given plenty of chances to play. It is about enjoyment and that means playing kid-friendly yardages. Castlebar Golf Club recently developed a six-hole par-3 course specifically designed for kids. Holes measure between 50 and 100 yards. Other clubs have created or are investing in similar developments, a sign that junior coaching is being embraced on more levels than ever before. 

 

It is often said that those in the youngest age brackets are the future of the game. That’s not strictly accurate as so many golfers take up the game later in life – and will continue to do so – but introducing kids to the game when they’re young and giving them the right environment in which to learn means that they can play the game for all of their life… or return to it at some stage in the future when the time is right.

 

“As a coach, my goal isn't just to give golf lessons, it is to create an entire experience,” Michelle confirms. “This includes everything from quality coaching, social activities, playing opportunities, competition, structure and a long term player development path.

As a parent, your job is to provide them with an experience that will make them want to play the game forever, an experience that will allow their passion and self motivation to grow. Give them the chance to own the game for themselves.” 

 

Before Covid interrupted our lives there were junior programmes and camps being run at almost every golf club in Ireland. Many of these will be thriving again this summer, reigniting kids’ passion for the game and giving others the chance to discover the joys of the sport. 

 

“Every family is on a unique journey,” Michelle concludes. “Some are using golf simply as a fun family activity to do together, whereas some have aspirations of playing college golf and even beyond. No matter the journey, as a coach it's fun to be a part of that.” 

 

These days you’re unlikely to see someone at junior camp with a putter made from plastic piping and skirting board but you’ll see plenty of enthusiasm. Today’s equipment is much more aligned with the needs of children, so offer a child the right path and the right tools for the job, and watch that enthusiasm grow into a passion that can last for more than 90 years.

 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Cut From A Different Cloth II - Kwack Golf

The popularity of the Kwack brand established itself quickly... even if back in its early days it was known as Duck Hook. 

Here's a Q&A with the company.

When was Duckhook founded?

Kwack Golf, formerly Duck Hook, was initially founded at the start of the pandemic in January 2020.


And by whom?

Ben, Scott & Will. Ben & Will are first cousins while Scott & Ben have been friends since the start of secondary school in 2006.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Cut From A Different Cloth – Fia Links

The recent explosion in Irish golf clothing brands may come as a surprise for Irish golfers… many of whom still don’t know what is available. It is all too easy to roll into a golf store, Pro shop or hop online and purchase Nike/Adidas/Under Armour/Galvin Green etc. products. 

It wasn’t that long ago that the Irish golfer searching for Irish clothing was restricted to two or three brands… but the past five years – and the past two specifically – have seen a major shift: there are now at least a dozen dedicated golf clothing brands selling to an expanding market and a hungry audience. It is good news all round.

 

At least eight brands have come in to being since the pandemic started in early 2020. They are all small outfits of one, two or three golf-mad people. Most are still only selling online but that will probably change as awareness among the Irish golfing public (and further afield it must be said) influences golf retailers and Pro shops to stock these

Monday, May 23, 2022

Rosslare Golf Links Summer Series 2022


As if you needed any more reason to visit one of Ireland's lesser known links gems this summer, Rosslare Golf Links has just announced a new 2022 Summer Series event. The Summer Series will consist of three Friday qualifying events (24th June, 8th July and the 12th August) played on the Old Course at Rosslare Golf Links. The club has a second 12-hole course, too (The Burrow). Each event is singles strokes, open to Ladies & Gents with a maximum playing handicap of 36 and 27 respectively. And each event has fantastic prizes up to the value of €1,000, awarded to the top 5 nett scores and the top gross score on the day. 

But that’s not all, the prize winners, from all three qualifying events, will also be invited back to play in the Grand Final on 26th August where there will be a limited field of just 18 people competing for the title of ‘Summer Series Champion 2022’


Rosslare Golf Links is the only true traditional links course in the South East corner of Ireland. Founded in 1905, the club initially began as a 9 hole course and in 1926 extended to 18 holes when the famous firm of Hawtree and Taylor, Golf Course Architects, was commissioned to design the ‘new’ 18 hole course. While changes and improvements were to follow down through the years, that original design by Hawtree & Taylor can be enjoyed today by the members and visitors playing the ‘Old Course’.

Rosslare Golf Links is located in the sunniest part of Ireland (it’s official!) and one of the most popular holiday destinations with excellent accommodation options available if you decide to make a weekend of it.

The Summer Series qualifying events have an entry fee of €50pp and booking is now open at www.rosslaregolf.com or call 053-9132203 to reserve your place. There are limited places available for each Qualifying Event so book as soon as you can sort out the dates. (You can play in all three events if you choose.)

Bookings online only via https://visitors.brsgolf.com/rosslare#/open-competitions

 

 

 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Leona Maguire Finds Her Way to the K Club

 What grabs my attention is this: the K Club have made some interesting and very positive ‘statements’ since coming under new ownership in early 2020. In a short amount of time there has been a significant forward shift in momentum. A clubhouse revamp and a doubling of the greenkeeping team were initial forays and they have really made their mark*. This was followed by February’s announcement that Seamus Power was to become  the resort’s new touring professional… which saw the K Club logo on his bag for his recent big weeks in the States (and will be on his bag when he plays in this year’s Horizon Irish Open at Mount Juliet).

 

Now it’s the turn of Leona Maguire, as she becomes the resort’s touring professional for the LPGA. The partnership between The K Club and one of the brightest stars of the tour will see the Kildare resort support Leona through the 2022 and 2023 season. Leona will join Seamus in representing The K Club on tour around the world.

 

And let’s not forget that Leona is enjoying a meteoric rise through the professional ranks. 



The last 12 months have seen Leona breaking plenty of records: lowest round in a Major championship; most points won by a rookie in the Solheim Cup; the first Irish player ever to be selected for the Solheim Cup team; and, most impressively, becoming the first Irish player to win on the LPGA Tour, when she won the Drive On Championship in February, 2022. 

 

This new partnership means Leona will team up with a place she knows well. 

 

“I'm looking forward to using the resort and its facilities more often, working on my game when I'm at home and spending time with the team there,” she said. “The work they are doing at the resort and their plans and ambition for the future when it comes to golf is very exciting.”

 

That excitement is shared by The K Club. 

 

"We are so proud to welcome Leona to our stable of touring professionals at The K Club along with Seamus Power,” said Conor Russell, Director of Golf at The K Club. “This partnership was a very easy decision for us to make when the opportunity presented itself. Leona is Ireland's most accomplished female golf professional, she practices regularly with us on the resort and always has time for a friendly few words. We can't wait to watch what she does next on tour and will be supporting her every step of the way."

 

There’s little doubt that both Leona and Seamus will be making waves in the years ahead, and the K Club logo on their golf bags might even appear prominently during TV coverage of them at the various events they compete in around the world… although that comes down to the vagaries of the broadcasters involved!

 

What’s New

The North course is currently undergoing a huge amount of work that is seeing fairways being stripped back, replaced and reseeded to ensure improved drainage, enhanced playability and immaculate presentation. The course is currently closed for two months while this work is being carried out.

 


* Other changes at the resort include new electric PowaKaddy trolleys and Riksha pull trolleys, as well as 50,000 TaylorMade balls for the resort’s driving ranges. A more entertaining addition is a new artificial putting green – costing €25,000 – on the ground level terrace. It measures roughly 60 x 20 feet and is very much a fun feature. Walk off 18, settle down around one of the terrace tables for some food or a beer and be sure to bring your putter. 

 

The 550 acre estate has numerous lakes and ponds and these have been cleaned up and reshaped, flowerbeds have been introduced, vegetation has been cut back (notably on the North’s 1st to reveal the nest of standing stones known as the Five Fingers), and vistas opened up. 

 

The North course has returned to its original routing, starting with the par-5 close to the driving range, and it is on this 1st hole that you will find the only design change to the two courses. The bunker in the middle of the 1st fairway has been removed to make the opening drive both more appealing and less punishing. 

 

As well as the doubling of the greenkeeping team, the arrival of six new Jacobsen hybrid machines - including green mowers, green irons and utility vehicles – has ensured maintenance and conditioning levels are back to their very best.

 

 






Friday, April 1, 2022

The Masters Of Powerscourt Team Event

The Masters is, for many, the start of the golf year… be it watching the Professionals taking on the beauty and drama of Augusta, or just getting back out onto the course.

Powerscourt Golf Club has combined the two with an Open Team Event on Friday, 8th April 2022.


For the week that’s in it golfers will get the chance to play the marvellous East Course to complement the action that will be underway over at Augusta National.

 

Announcing the event, Powerscourt Golf Club's General Manager, Gavin Hunt said:

 

"Our East Course will be in top condition and will offer our guests and members a chance to really soak up the expectation that comes with the first Major of the season on the professional tour. 

 

The par-3 16th on the East course

"In our 16th hole at Powerscourt East, the signature par 3, we have a challenge framed by a pond, strategically placed bunkering, tall pines and a blossom-drenched embankment. We are really hoping to see some Masters magic there. The hole sets the tone for one of the best runs home in Irish golf.”

 

Powerscourt Golf Club are offering a very attractive prize pool to the value of €2,000 with every golfer on the day going into a draw to win a top of the range GPS watch.

  • Entry Fee is €60pp and includes a Powerscourt "Masters Burger" after the round
  • Prizes for Top 4 teams (Team of 4 any combination)
  • Prize for Top mixed team
  • 2 best stableford scores to count on each hole
  • Nearest the Pin on the 3rd & signature 16th hole 
  • Green Tees (m) Red Tees (f)
  • Valid WHS/Golf Ireland handicap required


Golfers on the day are encouraged to post photos on their social media accounts using the hashtag #TheMasters.


To enter, contact +353 (0) 1 204 6033

 

Or book online by clicking here

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Stepping It Up with the new K Club Pro-Am


Europe’s largest PGA Pro-Am to take place at The K Club this July

 

How would you like to tee it up alongside Ireland’s top golf pros in Europe’s largest PGA Pro-Am? This summer the opportunity is all yours at The K Club Pro-Am, the largest PGA Pro-Am to take place in Europe this year where Ireland’s leading professionals will compete for a prize fund of €100,000. 

Pictured from left to right - Conor Dillon, Manager PGA Ireland, Paul Kelly, CFM Group, 

Seamus Power, Touring Professional of The K Club, Conor Russell, Director of Golf 

at The K Club, MJ Fetherston and Paul Heery, General Manager at The K Club. 


The impressive prize fund is the largest for any Pro-Am by some distance. The flagship event, sponsored by CFM Group, will take place over two days on the 11th and 12th July. One hundred teams consisting of three amateurs and one professional per team will compete over 36 holes split between The K Club’s two championship courses, Palmer North and Palmer South, with prizes awarded to the five leading teams after the two-day tournament.

 

Speaking on behalf of The K Club, Conor Russell, Director of Golf said ‘’The K Club are very strong supporters of both the PGA in Ireland and professional golf. On our journey towards hosting larger tournaments at the resort, this is just beginning.’’

 


Conor Dillon, Manager, PGA in Ireland, said The PGA “is delighted to partner with The K Club in staging a Pro-Am of this magnitude, which will no doubt attract the leading PGA Professionals from around the country. This is an exciting time for The K Club and a fitting venue to host such a special event. I would like to thank the CFM Group and The K Club for their continued support of Irish golf."

 

Speaking on their sponsorship of the event, Paul Kelly, CFM Group said, "It’s an absolute privilege for our insurance company CFM Group to be involved with The K Club Pro-Am this July. All the plans are being put in place for a wonderful event that we know is going to be the pinnacle of the golf calendar for PGA professionals in Europe, set in such a fantastic location as The K Club which really is second to none when it comes to resort golf in Ireland."

 

There are a limited number of team spaces available. Team entry fee is €1,600 and the closing date for entries is April 30th. For further information or to reserve your space contact Conor Russell, Director of Golf at The K Club on conor.russell@kclub.ie or call 01 601 7200

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Rosslare Scratch Cup is back for 2022!

The Rosslare Scratch Cup hasn’t been played since 2019, due to the interruptions of Covid, but it used to be a stalwart of the amateur golfing season… and undoubtedly will again as this year’s tournament will be played on Saturday 9th April 2022.


The 36-hole event over this smart links in Ireland’s sunny south east will be sponsored by McCauley Pharmacies. It also takes place the week before the West of Ireland, thereby providing an excellent opportunity for those looking to sharpen their links game before the first Irish major of the year.

“We are delighted that we are able to sponsor the Rosslare Scratch Cup on such a great links course. This is an event that we agreed to sponsor in 2020 but which did not take place due to Covid pandemic. It is great to see all forms of activities return to normal and we wish Rosslare Golf Links the very best of luck with their event”. 
Tony McEntee, Chief Executive, McCauley Pharmacies

Defending champion Gary Collins will be looking to retain the title he won in 2019 and with a €2,000 prize fund to play for, there will be plenty at stake for all those competing. A double shotgun start with a redraw after round 1 should provide plenty of excitement down the stretch.

It also costs a mere €50, which includes lunch. 

Entries are open to players with a handicap index of 3.4 or lower. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis, so book now to avoid missing this fabulous test of links golf.