Sunday, July 14, 2019

Slieve Russell Opens up with PGA Designation

Approach to the par five 6th at Slieve Russell
All of the attention may be on Lahinch and Royal Portrush golf clubs at the moment – and for good reason – but other Irish clubs are flexing their muscles with important events, anniversaries and announcements. One of these is the glorious Slieve Russell Hotel, Golf & Country Club, in Co. Cavan. (See below for details of their Open Week 21-25 July.)

In June, the resort received the designation of PGA National Ireland, making it only the 8th PGA National-designated resort in the world. That’s a serious accolade and one which reflects both the quality of the highly acclaimed Paddy Merrigan-designed championship course and the resort’s extensive facilities. It would be easy for something like this to slip below the radar but that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

At the official ceremony, PGA chief executive Robert Maxfield said: “We are delighted to welcome Slieve Russell to our exceptional list of PGA Branded Properties. The PGA National – Ireland further strengthens The PGA brand’s reputation internationally and we look forward to promoting Slieve Russell to both PGA Members and golfers across the globe.”
Views down the 9th hole 
The PGA was formed in 1901 and is the world’s oldest professional golfers’ association. It is based at Centenary House, at the famous Belfry in Warwickshire, and boasts over 8,000 members including 1,600 working overseas in more than 80 different countries. The PGA is one of golf’s leading bodies and it is committed to growing and developing the game nationally and internationally through the expertise of its professionals. It was the PGA, in conjunction with Samuel Ryder and The PGA of America, that founded the now world-renowned Ryder Cup match, which has thrown up so many famous Irish golf moments – not least Christy O’Connor Junior’s unforgettable 2-iron at the Belfry itself, in 1989. 
The 10th green
Slieve Russell’s designation follows a period of sustained strategic investment by the resort to build its business, both on the island of Ireland and internationally. This has seen major investment to upgrade both the golf course and the resort’s many other facilities. It has helped Slieve Russell reinforce its position as one of our leading hotel, golf and country club resorts. Greens, tees, fairways and bunkers continue to be improved, while the development of the Golf Academy includes state-of-the-art video and swing analysis technology. In the 222-room hotel, the banqueting, conference and event facilities received a major upgrade, as did the award-winning Ciuin Spa. Weddings abound and many a happy couple can be seen heading out onto the golf course to have photos taken by Lough Rud, with swans and geese on the water and the famous ‘SR’ hedge perched on the lough’s edge. (This also happens to be Slieve Russell’s signature par five 13th hole.)
Swans on Lough Rud, with the 12th hole in the background.
Head Professional, Gordon Smyth said: “This is a really proud day for the entire team here at Slieve Russell, recognising as it does not just the quality of the Championship course but the other golf facilities and academy we have built up over the years. We believe our designation as PGA National Ireland is reflective of this work and to join a club of just eight PGA National designated resorts worldwide, including the likes of The Belfry and Gleneagles, is a huge honour and reflective of the quality of Slieve Russell as a venue for golfers of all levels and abilities.”

Signs on the course have all been updated to reflect Slieve Russell’s new-found status, including a large silver banner by the 1st tee, where Colm Moriarty was photographed in late June after winning the annual Slieve Russell Masters Pro-Am. He wonby eight shots, with rounds of 65 (-7) and 67 (-5). He joins a list of high quality names including Neil O’Briain, David Higgins and the legendary Eamonn Darcy, all of whom have won the event three times.

Colm Moriarty with Tom Walker, Slieve Russell General Manager.
“I played some very good golf, maybe right up there with some of the best golf I’ve played because it is a really tough course, a great test and one that improves every time we return,” said Colm Moriarty, who made not one bogey in his two rounds.
The signature hole is the par five 13th
The PGA National designation ensures that certain standards are maintained and the quality of the course today is as good as anywhere in the country. The PGA mantle also provides the resort with excellent marketing opportunities, especially on the international stage. It helps of course that exceptional bragging rights already exist with Slieve Russell being the home club of Irish golfing sensations Leona and Lisa Maguire. The Maguires turned professional in 2018, after stellar amateur careers, which saw Leona twice ranked as the world’s number one amateur, and twin sister Lisa winning 15 amateur titles. This is where they learned to play.

Located just 90 minutes from Dublin, the course opened in 1992. It flows over the drumlins of Co. Cavan, with the back nine containing some of the best holes in Ireland. Today, twenty seven years after opening, Slieve Russell has further cemented its position as a top tier Irish parkland and The PGA Ireland designation has made that abundantly clear. 

Open Week is Coming
If you want to play this peach of a parkland you can... next week in their Open Week. For a cost of just €30. Get booking. 



Sunday, June 30, 2019

Irish Junior Summer Golf Camps 2019

I was introduced to golf when I was five years old. Over the following years I played many sports but golf was always something I returned to. You can do it on your own, you can do it with friends and, with the handicap system, you can play on level terms no matter who you walk the fairways with. 

There are few sports that allow that equality to exist. There are few sports you can play from the age of five to ninety five. And there are few sports that allow you to analyse yourself so clearly. Golf teaches you a lot about who you are.
And starting young – while not essential (Padraig Harrington was 16 when he picked up a club)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Golf Course at Adare... 1st Anniversary

The Golf Course at Adare opened this time last year after two years of redevelopment. The anticipation was phenomenal and, as exceptional as the entire five star resort is, we golfers are far more focused on the revamped Tom Fazio creation and how good it is. I was lucky enough to play it last autumn (my two part review is here) but four magazines have now published their Top 100 rankings with the 'new' Adare included:

  1. Irish Golfer
  2. Golf Digest Ireland
  3. Golf Monthly
  4. Golf World

I wrote a piece in the Irish Examiner on the four magazines' rankings and their comments/thoughts on Adare. Click here if you want to read the piece... which rates the course between 3rd and 12th best in Ireland.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Poulter to Play at the DDF Irish Open

credit Getty Images
Ian Poulter is set to bring his renowned passion to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the second Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai, when the Ryder Cup legend makes his first appearance in the Republic of Ireland in 13 years at Lahinch Golf Club this July.

The Englishman, known as the ‘Postman’ to many fans because he always delivers at The Ryder Cup, was in contention for a maiden Major Championship title at the recent Masters Tournament.
Poulter’s commitment means that four of the current top five in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, alongside Shane Lowry, Justin Harding

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Golf, Health and Missed Opportunities

When the GUI and ILGU launched their ’Golf and Health Week’ campaign in the middle of March, it received good exposure in the golf media. This is no doubt on the back of the campaign being an R&A initiative and it being endorsed by big-name golfers including Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson, and Annika Sorenstam.

That ‘Week’ has arrived and it started yesterday. The initiative is running immediately after the Masters and before Easter… just one of the times when golfers come out of full hibernation. Coincidence? It seems unlikely. The golfing public are paying attention, especially in light of Tiger’s remarkable come-back victory.

It is no surprise that the objective of the campaign is to get golfers of all hues to

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Irish at Augusta. 15 and Counting

How many Irish golfers have competed at the Masters? 

The answer is 14... or 15 if you include the elusive Steve McLowry. Here's the full list from my piece in the Irish Examiner.

It should also be noted that the slightly reworded question of: 'How many Irish golfers have competed at Augusta?' has the different (and official) answer of 15. Olivia Mehaffey completed the Augusta National Women's Amateur event last weekend in a tie for 23rd. By finishing in the top 30 after two rounds at the Champions Retreat Golf Club, she qualified to play the final round at Augusta itself.

And maybe, when the weekend is finished, we'll also have an Irish golfer wearing the Green Jacket... Steve McLowry could surprise us all. 


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Royal Portrush - Open Championship Update

For many golfers, Royal Portrush remains a mystical place of cascading dunes and golden grasses. The Dunluce links (and its sister Valley course alongside) was designed by the legendary Harry Colt in 1932 and this, too, gives this stretch of Co. Antrim coastline a touch of mysticism. Throw in views to Dunluce Castle and ocean rocks battered by relentless waves and it is easy to understand why this golf course is lauded around the world. It is firmly entrenched in the top echelon of Top 100 world rankings just about everywhere and it isn’t hard to see why. 
It has risen to number one in both the Irish Golfer and Golf World magazine rankings

Monday, March 11, 2019

St Patrick's Day Weekend Golf 2019

Fota Island's 18th
It's becoming a tradition.
In 2019, St Patrick’s Day falls beautifully on a Sunday. As if we needed more of an excuse to celebrate our Irishness we are presented with a long weekend to relax and enjoy ourselves.
And many of us will be doing that on the golf course. It’s the start of Spring, when the fairweather golfer tentatively comes out of hibernation and golf clubs nationwide open their doors and embrace the masses. That three day weekend ensures it will be all the more embracing.
Golf clubs up and down the country are running Open events so there’s no shortage of choice. Your only challenge is choosing the course to play and the companions you want to bring with you. With luck, we won’t have to endure a snow storm like the one that arrived last year and cancelled almost every St Patrick’s Day golf event. No, this year we deserve some cool sunshine and a light breeze.
Here is a selection of events at over 30 courses... but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

MUNSTER
Ballyneety
A parkland outside Limerick that continues to improve and return to its best, Ballyneety has