Saturday, November 28, 2020

Raflewski Performance Academy Launches At PGA National Ireland

So here we are, in November 2020, and golf is about to return to our courses. Apart from golf on TV, for many of us golf ceased to exist over the past six weeks. We had other things to worry about.

But golf in Ireland has continued behind the scenes. The greenkeepers have been busy maintaining courses and preparing them for our return, while for others there were developments that had been planned for a while and couldn’t simply be postponed.


One of those is at Slieve Russell… and it’s something pretty spectacular. The

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Top Ten Photos of the Year 2020

It is a frequent occurrence that no matter how much you plan, some of the best photographs come about thanks to a bit of luck. There are two photographs below that owe their existence to that luck.

It hasn’t been as busy a year as past years because… well, we all know why.

You can buy prints of many Irish golf courses through my website, including three of the shots listed below.

Here are the Top Ten shots of 2020, in no particular order... because ranking them would be like having to choose your favourite child.

1. Arklow 6th green 

The light was magical and there’s really no other Irish golf club car park – where this shot was taken from – that shows off the beauty and shape of the course you’re about to play.

2. Arklow 8th

This was the first shot I took with a new camera/lens combination (Nikon’s Z series

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Sister Courses in Ireland and Oregon to Host Golf Championships in 2021

When Carne Golf Links first told me about their twinning with Gearhart Golf Links, in Oregon, I thought: now that's a brilliant idea. Two courses that help each other, swap ideas, promote the other locally and nationally, field teams against each other, and generally just create a positive channel of communication between them. What's not to like? Joint membership? Yep, that too.

Though separated by thousands of miles, these two courses with a unique connection will celebrate their alliance in the summer of 2021 by hosting national championships: The US

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Saudi Arabia, Golf and Sportswashing

An announcement by the Ladies European Tour (LET) last month reignited a controversy about professional golf tournaments taking place in Saudi Arabia.

It may seem that the horse has already bolted following the European Tour’s Saudi International golf tournaments of 2019 and 2020, but the LET is also involved. The original plan was for the Ladies’ event to take place in March 2020, two months after the men, but Covid-19 put a stop to that. Until now.


In October, the LET announced not one but two ‘landmark’ tournaments for November (12-19), with prize money of $1.5 million on offer. 

A glossy video hit the airways showing female professionals giving lessons to young Saudi

Friday, October 30, 2020

The K Club Enters a Different World

The K Club may have changed hands in the past year and the two courses may have been renamed (Palmer North and Palmer South) but this week the golf on offer at this famous venue introduced something very different... K Golf World

Located next to the Palmer South course, K Golf World promises you the opportunity to play some of the best courses in the world at this most iconic of golf resorts. Weather? No bother, it's all indoors. 

K Golf World is a sophisticated, comfortable, suite of state of the art standalone golf simulators with eight spacious and high-tech bays, each accommodating a maximum of four golfers at a time, and all backed with the exceptional five-star service and attention to detail of The K Club.  

Here's the technical detail:
With two hyper-speed cameras operating at 3,000 frames per second, which also produce a stereoscopic effect, the K Golf World simulator system provides real-time footage of ball spin, club path and true impact — and one of the very few systems available that can measure actual spin data. The overhead monitors also track both ball and club data with unmatched accuracy, allowing golfers to swing freely because of their ceiling mounts. Swing analysis cameras are directly integrated with the software in addition to the tracking cameras, and the videos are displayed after each shot to give proof of what happened, making it suitable for all users, especially club fitters and coaches.

The user-friendly interface ensures you will always have the right data, right there in front of you, so you can drive your own continuous self-improvement with unrivalled graphic quality. And have one hell of an experience at the same time.

Star Attraction

You can go solo and enjoy your own virtual driving range, work on your short game and practice your drives, approach shots, chips and putts on any hole in the world

Yes, you and your friends can also play a virtual round and compete on some of the world’s greatest golf courses from the comfort of Ireland’s first custom-built public simulator facility, with its spacious and luxuriously furnished bays, bar and excellent food.

Imagine the enjoyment of playing the 17th island hole at TPC Sawgrass, the Postage Stamp 8th at Royal Troon, the tiny acre that houses the iconic 7th hole at Pebble Beach — and being back home in time for dinner. 

Bays are available from €40 per hour*. For further information and to reserve your time see K Golf World will open as soon as it’s safe to do so.

So even despite the lockdown, winter golf is looking brighter with K Golf World opening next month. Low handicappers to fair weather players, and those who won’t make it to Spain or Portugal this year, you still have the opportunity to head to County Kildare to experience golf with a difference... and leave your wet gear at home.  

*Masters discount - for the week of the Masters, starting November 12th -  15th - buy a K Golf World voucher and get an additional 20%. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Donegal: The Power of New

It is surprising – to me at least – that Irish golfers are not that aware of the many ‘new’ things happening at Irish golf courses. We all knew about the massive upgrade at Adare Manor and many of us had heard that Skellig Bay was evolving into Hog’s Head, but the changes going on in Co. Donegal over the past three years have slipped by relatively unnoticed.

One of the new (Pat Ruddy) holes on the Old Tom
course at Rosapenna.

I conducted a poll on Twitter asking if people knew that Tom Doak was redesigning

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

€600,000 R&A Funding for Irish Clubs Announced

110 clubs took advantage of the funding that was made available to Irish golf clubs during the 1st phase of the Covid19 pandemic. Personally, I can't decide if I'm impressed or disappointed at that number of 110. It's approximately a quarter of Irish golf clubs, and I'd expected more clubs to take advantage of the 'free' funding. 

Here's the press release from Golf Ireland with the details.


  • Almost €600,000 secured for golf clubs across Ireland
  • 110 clubs awarded grants
  • Boost for clubs after difficult year


A total of €596,550 will be awarded to 110 clubs which applied for The R&A Covid-19 support fund. Since its return, golf had been under immense pressure in a number of respects and a second closure will now heighten that pressure.


The phased nature of its initial return, beginning with limited tee time capacity for members only and without revenue-raising potential through green fees, open competitions, shop sales or catering meant that clubs were required to operate their facilities without any revenue streams to support the significant ongoing maintenance requirement. 


Notwithstanding this, the level of compliance with the Covid-19 Protocol had been extremely high, however many golf clubs and facilities will be facing serious financial difficulties as the global pandemic continues.


The R&A launched a Covid-19 Support Fund earlier this year with the aim of assisting National Associations in GB&I to support their affiliated clubs. Golf Ireland was responsible for administering a funding package of £555,000. 


The application process has now been completed in Ireland, using a criteria that targeted small to medium sized clubs and specifically those that could showcase immediate financial need. Of the clubs that applied for funding, 96% of clubs were successful in their applications.


Clubs who were successful in their application will receive a grant, ranging in value, and have met specific criteria including the following:

  • The club is eligible for relief from income tax and corporation tax for clubs under the exemptions provided for Games/Sporting bodies in ROI and clubs registered under the Registration of Clubs Act in NI. 
  • The club is member owned.
  • The club is in urgent need of The R&A funding in order continue to provide facilities for the normal playing of the game for their members and visitors.
  • The club has no entrance fee or an entrance fee of less than €1,500/£1,500.
  • The club’s membership income is lower than €600,000/£535,00 and/or green fee/society revenue is lower that €100,000/£90,000 as reported in the clubs 2019 financial statements. 
  • The club does not provide a financial return to stakeholders/owners.
  • The club's subscriptions are paid up to date for 2020 to both the GUI & ILGU.


Clubs successful in their application for funding must commit to signing the Women in Golf Charter and create an implementation plan to achieve the gold standard within an agreed timeline. In addition clubs must be compliant in all safeguarding regulations and will receive a safeguarding audit.


Mark Kennelly, CEO of Golf Ireland said: ‘‘Covid-19 has significantly impacted all areas of our society, sport and golf are no different. We are extremely grateful for the on-going support of The R&A throughout this turbulent period. While there are challenges ahead for golf, the funding supports made possible by The R&A will help those clubs most in need at this time. Clubs have demonstrated a need for this funding which will assist them in recruiting and retaining members while also ensuring appropriate safety procedures are in place at their facilities”.


“The R&A Covid-19 Support Fund will enable clubs to invest in areas which will make them more sustainable. Investment will be made to the way services are provided to club members and guests including to online platforms and/or facilities that will ensure the safety of all going forward.” 


Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “The pandemic is continuing to have an impact on the day-to-day operations of golf clubs and many of them have suffered loss of income due to circumstances not in their control. We have a responsibility to help protect golf from the effects of this crisis where we can and so we hope that our Covid-19 Support Fund will allow affiliated national associations to support clubs in dealing with the challenges of the pandemic and begin the process of recovery.”  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Best 9-Hole Courses in Ireland?

It was fantastic news when published their recent Top 50 Best 9-Hole Courses in the World, and Ireland had four entries. Cruit Island, Mulranny, Castlegregory and Bushfoot were all included and anyone who has played them will know why. 

Mulranny came in at 16th, and the review read as follows:

Expert’s take: Guarded by electrified fences, the greens are surprisingly large and full of character. Punchbowl and plateau, embankment and benched, their sites are well varied, often at the end of some astutely occupied seaside terrain. The hardly believable left-to-right cant of the short 8th, perched beyond hidden burn with village in the distance above, will be a favorite.

Mulranny 6th green, with the famous barbed wire 
fencing around the putting surface.

Castlegregory was at 21st:

Expert’s take: Another brilliant seaside links test, Castlegregory is everything