Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Very Irish Partnership

A New Strategic Partnership Has Eyes To The East.
The role that Irish golf plays on the world stage is easy to gauge when you consider the recent list of winners in the Majors. 2019 has been a big year for this island, capped off with Shane Lowry’s Open win at Royal Portrush, not to mention the announcement that the Ryder Cup will be held at Adare in 2026. That will come 20 years after the huge success of the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club.
The challenge is to ensure that Ireland continues to benefit from all of this positivity and luring visiting golfers to these shores is a great place to start. Ireland’s south-west has long attracted golfers from North America but the entire island has seen increasing numbers since the disasters of 2008. According to Tourism Ireland, 2018 was the best year ever for overseas tourism to the island of Ireland, with revenue generated by international visitors estimated at €6.1 billion. This is an increase of 10% on 2017, with record numbers arriving from North America, Continental Europe, Australia and, crucially, emerging markets. 

The par three 8th on the K Club Palmer course
Fairways & FunDays, the leading Irish golf tour operator, is among those companies bringing

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Farnham Estate Resort - In The House

Farnham Estate’s new clubhouse opened earlier this year. Subtle, sympathetic and functional, the single-storey building fits easily into its environment and greatly enhances what the entire resort has to offer.
The cool stone gives a calming reassurance as you stroll through the car park. The new building is not big and fancy like so many of the clubhouses built during the boom. Instead, it is, as they say, fit-for-purpose while still being sympathetic to its surroundings. There is only one level and the layout is as simple as can be: Pro shop to your

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Ireland's Toughest 18 Golf Holes

The 17th at Carne. Beauty and the beast!
You won’t break 70. You probably won’t even break 90. But it will break your heart. Here’s an 18-hole golf course made up of the toughest that Ireland has to offer. 
These are holes where any and every golfer will be delighted to walk off with a nett par… where there is a sense of fear stepping onto the tee… where you wonder if you should swap that nice Pro V1 for the old Topflite in the bottom of your bag… and where you know that only three, four, five – or even six – of your very best shots are required if you are to walk off the green with dignity.
This selection spans the country and embraces blind shots, doglegs, hollows, water hazards,

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What If... in Golf

The game of ‘What if’ is as claustrophobic as it is pointless in golf… but it’s also unavoidable. Think back to your last round and the small mistakes you made: a missed putt, an aggressive

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