Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Destination Golf Scotland Top 100 2018 Guide

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll have seen I was in Scotland late last year, touring a large number of clubs on the east coast… I was posting photographs of the 30+ courses as I travelled from East Lothian (and the ‘Scottish Golf Coast’) up to St Andrews and Fife, and then north again to Dundee and beyond, and the courses around Carnoustie.

It was all part of a Destination Golf trip for Scotland’s Top 100 Courses Guide 2018… which has just been published. It’s available online here and you’ll find hard copies in clubs around the country.

Gullane No. 1
Picking the ‘100 best’ is no easy task when you have 600+ to choose from and – more importantly – you have such depth of quality. If you’re not Scottish then you’ve probably never heard of Longniddry, Irvine, Tain, Lundin, Panmure, or Blairgowrie. Top quality courses but rarely on the bucket lists of most travelling golfers. To call them second tier is an insult… more like the back-up tier, the clubs that would be played if it weren’t for the Prestwicks, Royal Troons, Muirfields, St Andrews and Carnousties of the world.
Glen Golf Club
No, it’s no easy task but it is a lot of fun trying. Visiting places like Downfield (parkland), Glen (seaside) and Scotscraig (links/heathland) proved just what kind of adventures you can have without playing the ‘big name’ links. Of course if you want to play the big name links, parklands and heathlands go right ahead. Your choices in accommodation are vast. 
Fairmont St Andrews - the Kittocks course
The Marine Hotel overlooks Royal Troon, Garleton Lodge overlooks nine – yes, nine – courses in East Lothian, and the Royal Marine Hotel makes Brora a two minute walk away and Royal Dornoch a short drive to the south. Those are just three regions and there are so many more.

Take a look at the guide and see which of Scotland’s regions you want to visit first. And second.

Carnoustie's 1st green where so many of the world's best will be
playing this year.
Duke's, St Andrews - a fabulous heathland with all the
professional flourishes.
The scintillating start to Lundin Links. 
Panmure's famous 6th hole, 'Hogan'.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Dublin’s First 45 Hole Golf Membership: Corrstown & Forrest Little Unite

Corrstown 9 and 18 greens
In a day and age where Irish golf clubs continue their struggles to build and retain membership it is rewarding to see more enterprising approaches being taken. The idea of reciprocal playing rights is not new... but what Corrstown and Forrest Little have done is to break these barriers down further. In part that is because they are immediate neighbours... and in part it is the level of access these clubs are offering their members.

Anyone looking to join one (or both) of these clubs can avail of a special offer - see end of this blog post. A full membership at one club now offers a complimentary 5-day membership at the other club.

This new arrangement allows club members to play and enjoy the benefits of Golf Club

Monday, February 5, 2018

Irish Greats to Host the Irish Open

This has just been posted on the European Tour website... the Irish Open will now enjoy a rotating series of hosts, with Rory set to be one of five Irish golfing greats:
Approch to the 1st on the Ballyliffin Glashedy course.
A new and exciting era for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open was unveiled today with news that the tournament, from 2019 onwards, will be hosted annually by some of the greats of the Irish game.

Utilising the model that has seen the British Masters return successfully to the

Monday, January 29, 2018

Irish Golf - A Show of Strength

Ladies Get into Golf going from strength to strength

Royal Tara - just one of the venues which held a highly
successful Get Into Golf programme.
The GUI has often been accused of being sluggish and slow to react to issues affecting our game but moves over recent years have – one hopes – altered that perception. No doubt there will still be gripes about this or that but progress has been made to coincide with international changes.

Most golfers with any interest in the industry are well aware of the challenges facing the game. The cost, the time involved, the commitment (to play well), slow play, handicap manipulating and, of course, the issue of formality that clings like

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Winter Golf & Accommodation... try the Clanree Hotel in Donegal

The par five 15th at Narin & Portnoo.
Let's not beat about the bush... there are Irish holiday breaks galore around Ireland at the moment, with many of these targeted at golfers. If you tie accommodation and golf together you have an easy and attractive mix. The challenge is finding one that fits your budget and appeals to your golfing ambitions... and given the volume of courses and hotels at our disposal that is hardly going to be an arduous task
From the high end offers (K ClubCastlemartyr and Lough Erne), to the astounding

Monday, January 15, 2018

Portmarnock Links Winter Golf Pass

The Links at Portmarnock have a special Winter Pass at the moment. Running from January to the end of March, it's a very tasty deal.

For €550 you get unlimited golf between now and the end of March, seven days a week, playing off the turf... so no mats required. There are plenty of golfers who have memberships at Dublin parkland clubs who may not visit their home courses during these quiet months because of temporary greens, wet fairways and bunkers out of play due to flooding... so this offer ensures top quality golf for the next three months. If you like, look at it as keeping your eye in for the main season ahead. 

And who knows, maybe you'll like it so much much you'll want to join Portmarnock Links full-time.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Top and Tail - the perfect end/start to the year

It is not often that you leave one year playing golf at your favourite Irish parkland and start the next year playing your favourite links.

Sometimes you just get lucky I guess.
The par five 5th at Druids Glen on New Year's Eve.
On December 31st, four of us rolled up to Druids Glen. The sun was out, trying to ward

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Euro prize limit reduced in Ireland for amateur golfers

The GUI announced the following today:

Euro prize limit reduced in Ireland for amateur golfers
Following requests from affiliated golf clubs in Ireland, the Amateur Status Prize Limit in the Euro area in Ireland will be lowered from €750 to €575 and will take effect from 1st February 2018.
The move, which is supported by The R&A following requests for consideration by the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union, will ensure that the Prize Limit for amateur golf is now better aligned to the Sterling Pound limit of £500 and continual review of this will be undertaken by both Unions to assess the impact of this change.
Speaking about this decision, Pat Finn CEO of the Golfing Union of Ireland said: "The feedback from our clubs was that the limit was set too high in the Euro area and it needed to be brought into line with that of the Sterling zone. Working with the Irish Ladies Golf Union we approached The R&A and they supported the lowering of the limit. We welcome this support from The R&A and both Unions will monitor the effects of the change over the coming months.”
Under Rule 3-2a of the Rules of Amateur Status, which are jointly approved by The R&A and the USGA, an amateur golfer must not accept a prize (other than a symbolic prize) or prize voucher of retail value in excess of £500. This limit applies to the total prizes or prize vouchers received by an amateur golfer in any one competition or series of competitions, but does not include hole-in-one prizes. Under Rule 3-1, an amateur golfer must not play for prize money of any amount.

I'd be pretty certain that we all know someone who has won a prize that threatens the €750 limit... let alone €575. There has been a trend since the early 2000s to increase the value of prizes to ever greater heights. It seems to be almost an ego thing, especially with Captain's prizes.

In my opinion such significant prizes (holidays, TVs, sets of clubs) only encourage cheating, in its various guises. I hope that ALL organisations running amateur golf tournaments take note and appreciate that bigger prizes don't mean better competitions... sometimes the exact opposite.