Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Grateful Eight... Golf Open Weeks Ireland 2016: Batch 2

The green on Castlemartyr's par three 12th.
So who got out there over the last two days and got baked? I was at Rathsallagh to take photographs and I left the club at 9.30am as a man walked down the 1st hole, an umbrella over his head. It was 25 degrees.

The weather over the next couple of weeks looks to be interchangeable but that shouldn’t stop you from getting out and

Monday, July 18, 2016

An Open Championship Dogfight

I don't write about the professional game very often but this year's Open Championship was truly special. The final pair of Mickelson and Stenson finished, respectively, 11 and 14 shots clear of the chasing pack with rounds of 65 and 63. That's phenomenal and puts them in a class apart... it made Rory's next-best-of-the-day 67 look almost trifling.

Jordan Spieth had this to say:

Talk about a heavyweight bout as they punched and counter-punched, hole after hole. I'm delighted for Stenson... and gutted for Mickelson, even moreso as he lipped out for that history-making 62 on the first day.

I wrote a piece on 10 Open Championship Facts/Moments for the Irish Examiner last week - you'll find it here:
http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/golf/10-major-moments-from-open-championship-history-409847.html - but it's safe to say that this Royal Troon dogfight will be added to item number 9 (Greatest Moments), right alongside the famous Watson/Nicklaus 'Duel in the Sun'.

It's worth noting that Watson (-12) and Nicklaus (-11) were so far ahead of the field at Turnberry that Hubert Green, who came third with a score of -1, declared: "I won the tournament I played in".

JB Holmes, who came third yesterday on -6, will probably feel the same way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Golf and A New Kind of Hazard

Is anyone else sick and tired of the rules of golf, how they’re applied, when and by whom? I know I am. This past weekend at the US Women’s Open was another example – following hot on the heels of the men’s US Open – of how badly officialdom

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Ireland vs. Scotland... the golfer's conundrum

Killarney Mahony's Point 18th green
Well, there's little doubt that following Brexit and the slump in Sterling's value against the dollar, American golfers will be licking their lips at the prospect of a 15% discount (maybe more) in the cost of their golfing trip to the United Kingdom.

It certainly gives the famed Scottish links an edge over their Irish brethren... for now. There's a

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Atlantic Coast Challenge Day 2 - Carne

The 8th green (LHS)
The big question for me was: how good are Carne's greens?

Last year, the feeling among ACC participants was that they were not good...

... this year, they were top notch. I've played here many times and the greens this time around are as good as I've seen them. On that point alone, congratulations to the

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Atlantic Coast Challenge Day 1 - County Sligo

Views over the 15th green to Benbulben
It's no surprise that Atlantic Coast Challenge chatter was dominated by weather on the first day of the 2016 event. There was a brutal morning of rain and by lunchtime (when I arrived at County Sligo GC), sad and sorry-looking golfers were trudging off the 18th green, no doubt relishing the hot shower to come... and the not so savoury prospect of getting their kit dry before the next round.

The group I passed were discussing the 38 points one of them had scored. Given the conditions, that was an impressive score to say the least. We may have been off the forward tees but the wind was up - a 3 club wind, I reckon - and the rough is heavy and thick and wet. I was in the heavy stuff on the 3rd, moved the ball about five yards and never found it.

Top tip of the day... avoid the rough at all costs!
The Index 1 7th has a tricky ditch just shy of the green

My buddy Finbarr, back from New York to play in this event - alongside Ronan and myself - for the 5th consecutive year, scored 22 points... on the back nine... helped by a brilliant birdie on 18 where he almost drove the green (325 metres). Downwind it may have been but it's a blind drive. He had 37 points in all so he may, just may, be in the prizes. We'll find out later.
The par three 13th
You really won't find a better 'classic' than this. Carne and Enniscrone are two of my top three Irish golf courses in the country, and County Sligo is only just behind (top 10 certainly). All for under €140, with the prospect of winning a share of the €6,000 prize fund.  What's not to like about that.

video
The only thing that constantly fooled us was the speed of the greens, which were slower than expected. Downhill putts simply weren't running out and you could afford to be a touch aggressive on your shots around the green. In the past, the greens have been far slicker.
County Sligo is a beautiful course in one of the most remarkable of settings. Benbulben is visible from almost every hole and the views stretch endlessly to distant mountains and ocean.
Views up the 17th fairway to the green, from the 16th green
The course is having an 'upgrade' at the moment... and I'll nail my colours to the mast by saying I'm not happy about that. Pat Ruddy is making the changes so you can decide for yourself when you play here what you think of the extended greens (the Harry Colt originals remain untouched) and the new bunkers which appear on a few holes. My feeling has always been that you don't mess with greatness and, for me, that's what County Sligo has.












Thursday, June 30, 2016

Give Tullamore Golf Club Its Dew

For some it might seem a coincidence, for others simply fortuitous, but Tullamore Golf Club and the world-renowned Tullamore Dew whiskey distillery are little more than a crisp five wood apart. Such coincidences are common in Scotland, but in the centre of Ireland it is far less frequent. Perhaps that is why Irish whiskey, unlike Scottish

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Doonbeg - A New Beginning

Tee shot off the 1st at Doonbeg
“Are you OK? Have you fallen into a bunker?”

It was a Direct Message I received on Twitter, around 1pm last Thursday. It took a moment to understand the reason for the question but it dawned on me soon enough. I was playing Trump Doonbeg and I’d decided to photograph every hole on my