Thursday, December 7, 2017

Carne's €100 Winter Golf Offer

Carne Golf Links introduced its Winter Deal a few weeks ago... and it's a seriously fabulous offer. Play Carne as many times as you like, from now until March 2018, for €100.  
To quote Tom Coyne, author of A Course Called Ireland, "In any string of words I might pen over the rest of my life, I might never write a more true sentence than this: Carne is absolutely brilliant. Front nine, back nine, every hole, every hill, every inch of the place is simply special."
Tom knows what he's talking about... and it remains my favourite course in Ireland. Raw adventure, there's nothing like it.
Many of you will say that Carne is too far away but anyone within 100km who loves golf and wants to play a world-class course will see this as an absolute steal. That's an arc from beyond Enniscrone on the Sligo coastline, down through Claremorris and out to beyond Westport. From further afield, it means you'll have the hardship of staying overnight - try the Broadhaven Bay
or The Talbot - and enjoying some Co. Mayo hospitality.

Seriously, how many times would you have to play Carne in the coming months to make this deal exceptional value? 

Cherry-pick your days and you could be playing the course in sunshine without another soul in sight.

Contact the club on 097 82292 or email info@carnegolflinks.com for more details.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Volunteers Needed - Biggest Amateur Golf Tournaments in the World, at Carton House

 The Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and the Irish Ladies Golfing Union (ILGU) will host the World Amateur Team Championships (WATC) 2018 in late August and early September 2018, in Ireland. The two events will be staged at Carton House, where players will be tested on the world famous O’Meara and Montgomerie

Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas Golf Rush... to Ballyliffin

Next week on Tuesday (Dec 5), in the Irish Examiner, there will be an article (click for link) with lots of golf gift ideas for Christmas. One of the items on that list will NOT be a special deal for tickets for next year's Irish Open at Ballyliffin. It came through a touch too late for my Examiner piece... but it fully deserves to be included, so here goes: 

Following the huge success of this year’s event at Portstewart, the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation, is expected to be the sporting showpiece of the summer when the world’s best golfers will converge for the first time in the event’s long history on County Donegal. The Ballyliffin Glashedy course will host the Open from July 4-8 . 

The 'limited edition' Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Festive Fan Pack is rather perfect for anyone with friends or family who love golf. It costs €99 and includes:

- Two one-day tickets for the event (for any day)
- €50 merchandise store voucher
- €20 food and drink on-site voucher
- One tournament programme
- 3 Titleist pro v1 golf balls with tournament logo

(Pre-Christmas delivery is only assured for orders placed by December 14th.)

Co Donegal – recently deemed the ‘Coolest Place on the Planet’ by National Geographic – has breathtaking landscapes and that beauty extends from the Wild Atlantic Way's coastline into the very heart of the county. The Inishowen Peninsula will be a grand setting for this festival of golf but anyone thinking of going will need to plan their days on and around the peninsula. From finding somewhere to stay to deciding where to eat the remoteness of Ballyliffin makes this year's Irish Open a bit trickier than usual.

Still, this is a great golf gift and Donegal is a beautiful place whatever your reason for going.

Local golf can be found at the brilliant North West and Greencastle, or at Letterkenny, a parkland course on the outskirts of the town where many fans will be staying. If not there then the likes of Portsalon, Rosapenna, Narin & Portnoo golf clubs are some of Donegal's other brilliant links... or head over the Foyle on the Foyle Ferry, from Greencastle to Magilligan, and visit Castlerock, Portstewart and/or Royal Portrush. Nobody will be short of golf options in this neck of the woods.
The back nine rises back up into Glashedy's biggest dunes.
“So if you have a golf fan in your family, then our exclusive Festive Fan Pack really is the perfect Christmas present and offers tremendous value for money," said Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Championship Director, Simon Alliss. "And families with young children will also be delighted to hear that admission is free for all under 16s (when accompanied by an adult), so just one Festive Fan Pack could ensure a great day out for the entire family.”

To purchase a Festive Fan Pack for a loved one or to view other ticketing options visit www.festivefanpack.com/dubai-duty-free-irish-open-2018/

A portion of all ticket sales will go directly to The Rory Foundation, which supports children’s charities around the world and is hosting the tournament for the fourth year running.

The 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will again be part of the very successful Rolex Series, with a massive prize fund of US$7 million on offer.



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Question of a Captain’s Courtesy

Did anyone see the TripAdvisor review of Worplesdon Golf Club, in England, left by the Captain of another club? It's a few weeks ago now and if you use TripAdvisor, more fool you as the site is so easily and frequently manipulated that you could turn up at a "4 star hotel" and find it more closely resembles a horse stable.

The Captain's letter (see the link in the Comment below) once again demonstrates how idiotic golfers can be and how we - as golfers - are all made to look like stuck-up jerks as a result.

The scenario is simple: a Captain of a south west English club decided to play three golf courses in Surrey. He makes the calls to arrange the rounds and looks for ‘courtesy’ (i.e. a freebie) of the course for himself. Of the three clubs, two grant him that courtesy… but one doesn’t. So he goes on to TripAdvisor to rant about how disgraceful this is.

First question: what’s your immediate reaction to this?

There are generally acknowledged protocols that club Captains – Presidents, too – have access to courses on a courtesy basis in the year in which they are Captain. Sometimes, due to the workload on a Captain in his special year, that courtesy is moved to the following year… thereby allowing him/her the opportunity to take advantage. But – and this is an important ‘but’ – such a courtesy does not have to be extended. Expecting it is presumptive and plenty of clubs have their reasons for not offering such a courtesy. Imagine how many freebies a top rated course would end up providing to visiting captains. There are other considerations, too, and if you read Worplesdon’s General Manager’s well reasoned response (they are more inclined to give free rounds to charities) you’ll get the gist of the volume of ‘freebie’ requests that golf clubs can receive every year.

So the Captain is aggrieved at this perceived snub and rants on TripAdvisor about how he’s the Captain of a ‘Top 200 club’ and that the tradition of offering courtesy rounds to visiting captains must be ‘anathema to Worplesdon’. It came across as sour grapes, egotistical and childlike petulance... maybe he’s Donald Trump.

Or maybe he’s not… since he has since apologised on the site and withdrawn his comments. 

Which leads to my second question: do you even know what the courtesy policy is at your club?



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Powerscourt Golf Club and 20 Years

There are lots of Irish golf clubs celebrating anniversaries this year… six are seeing in their 125th… but the age matters little to the clubs who have cause to celebrate. Ten years, 20, 25, 50… these are all opportunities to revel in a little bit of history.

This was on full display at Powerscourt a couple of weeks ago when the club launched a very impressive hardback book celebrating 20 years.  The book is not inconsequential in size, stretching to 248 pages, with hundreds of photos and contributions from many involved in the club’s evolution. It is a comprehensive piece of work. The launch, hosted by new member Craig Doyle, took place in the clubhouse with dozens present, including the Slazenger family. Indeed, the book is dedicated to Dr Michael Slazenger, the man who started the club on the grounds of the Powerscourt Estate. As speeches were made the sun lit up the two courses outside the windows, showing off the autumn colours and where the trees felled by Ophelia had long since been cleared away. This is a strong club with both courses embraced by ancient trees. Ophelia managed to snatch just five and will merit only a mere mention in a future chapter as the club looks forward to its next 20 years.

This is a major piece of work involving dozens of people and contributions from every sector, every age, every aspect of both the golf club and the estate itself. One of the members, Colman O’Neill, a stalwart from the earliest days, has amassed some 3,000 images of the club and roughly 70% of the images in the book are his.
Other clubs celebrating 20 years in 2017 include Esker Hills, Galgorm Castle, Newbridge, East Clare, and – hard to believe – Old Head. Clubs which have reached the quarter of a century milestone are Roe Park, St. Margaret’s, Waterford Castle, Charlesland, Castle Barna and Slieve Russell. 
Charlesland celebrated their anniversary with a series of golf events… but, more telling, the year also saw the completion of a €1 million investment in the course which saw a short game academy introduced and two new holes.
Views up the Powerscourt East 10th from the clubhouse
No clubs are celebrating a centenary in 2017, while the 9-hole Dunmore, in Clonakilty, is the lone club with 50 years to its name.

Congratulations to all at Powerscourt Golf Club and on the publication of 'Celebrating 20 Years'.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

125 Years - Athlone's Anniversary

Athlone Golf Club

The delicious opening tee shot at Athlone.
The course beside Hodson Bay is the third home of this Midlands club. After originating at the Batteries, an area of higher ground west of the Shannon, the club moved to Garnafailagh, before finally settling at Hodson Bay in 1938. It was through the British Army – with its many Scottish officers – that golf began at the Batteries, with officers believed to have laid out holes in these fields. Originally known as the Athlone Garrison Golf Club, the game attracted local businessmen and professionals who, in 1904, oversaw the name change to Athlone Golf Club. And it was in 1904 that one of the first legal actions took place for damages caused by a golfer… who sliced the ball and struck a passing woman.

View of the par three 2nd green from 18th tee.
The club moved to Garnafailagh in 1920, but not before club member John McCormack had won three Amateur Close Championships. He represented Ireland 24 times and, in 1924, he was selected for the Walker Cup team, although he did not play for personal reasons. Eighty years later, in 2003, Colm Moriarty became the first member to play on the Walker Cup team. but only lasted until 1938, before the course moved to Hodson Bay, where the 18 holes were designed by Mr. J McAllister. The original clubhouse was built on the lake shore.

When the clubhouse was moved to its present location on higher ground, in 1972, Fred Hawtree was brought in to re-work the layout. Further changes were made in the 1980s by none other than Eddie Hackett, and then again in the early 2000s, when Eddie Connaughton and SOL Golf Construction constructed new sand-based greens, introduced a number of water features and created a new par three 6th hole.
18th green views.
All of these changes have combined to ensure Athlone remains a strong and vibrant course. Water presses in on two sides with the 16th embraced far too tightly by the lough. The par four 13th, however, is the hole of the round and, at almost 400 metres, it is the toughest hole you’ll play in a while. From a high tee it doglegs sharply left over a series of eskers which may present a blind second shot.

Athlone 2017 Activities

The club hosted a celebration lunch for members in the Hodson Bay Hotel, in April. A Club Classic was played in May, followed by a BBQ, and an invitation team event. The club’s centenary book, written by club member, Tom Collins, received an an addendum. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Maria Dunne reflects on a rollercoaster career: “The time is right to step away”

On returning home from Daytona Beach, Florida, as a Bethune-Cookman College Graduate, thoughts of Curtis Cup triumphs and International representation were far from the mind of Maria Dunne. The then 24 year old had just spent 5 years stateside and had been struck with an injury that put doubt on her ever competing again. “I had just graduated college and was already in a point of my life where I didn’t know what I was doing career wise so it was difficult to deal with two and a half years of back injuries after I had gotten to a point where I thought I

Thursday, August 24, 2017

THE EUROPEAN CLUB SET TO HOST AIG IRISH CLOSE IN 2018

Galway Golf Club
As news filters through that The European Club will host next year's AIG Close Championship, from 4 - 8 August, the GUI have also confirmed the host venues for the four years after that with the date change set to benefit players.

All this while the 2017 Championship plays on in a wet and windy Galway Golf Club.

The other four courses are Ballybunion, Rosapenna, Malone and Headfort. 
 
A new date for the blue riband event in Irish domestic golf means the championship is more accessible than ever before for Ireland’s leading amateurs.
Headfort (New) - one of the best parklands in Ireland
Scheduled to commence on the Saturday of the Republic of Ireland’s August Bank Holiday for the foreseeable future, the date change will see the Close take place after the South of Ireland and before the Home Internationals which are scheduled to move into September.
 
Ballybunion (2019), Rosapenna (Sandy Hills - 2020), Malone (2021) and Headfort (New – 2022) are the host venues for the coming years.

Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) is a stern links test.
Mark Wehrly, GUI Championships Manager said: “We are delighted to confirm these wonderful venues for the AIG Irish Close Championship over the coming years – and we’re very grateful to the clubs for offering their facilities for the championship.”
Malone is Northern Ireland's most vibrant parkland.
“We’re hopeful that the new date will help our leading amateur players, many of whom are career amateurs with jobs and young families, to continue supporting what is our leading domestic championship.
 
“We also hope the change in the date of the Home Internationals will further enhance the attraction of the Close to our best players.”
 
The date change required the GUI to liaise with Mullingar Golf Club in relation to their Scratch Trophy which has occupied the bank holiday weekend for the past number of years.
The European Club's 16th hole
“We very much value the engagement and positive response from Mullingar in relation to the date change of the Close” Wehrly said. “The club have recognised the significance of this change for the Irish Close and have been more than accommodating in agreeing to move their Scratch Trophy dates”.

The last time The European Club staged the Close in 2006, Rory McIlroy won the second of his back to back Close titles.
Ballybunion (Cashen)
Speaking after his victory in 2006 McIlroy said: "This is probably the best links course I have ever played. It’s just the definition to it with the sleepers in the bunkers. It is totally unbelievable. I love courses where you really have to think your way around. It gets me focused much more."

Regularly ranked as one of the world’s leading links courses, the County Wicklow links was established in 1987.
 
AIG Irish Close Championship –  Future Venue and Dates
 
4 – 8 August 2018 at The European Club, Wicklow
3 – 7 August 2019 at Ballybunion (Old Course), Kerry
1 – 5 August 2020 at Rosapenna (Sandy Hills), Donegal
31 July – 4 August 2021 at Malone, Belfast
30 July – 3 August 2022 at Headfort (New), Meath