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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lahinch Golf Club 125 Years

Chipping in to the 6th green.
The club was founded on April 15th 1892, in Sharry’s Hotel on the main street of Lahinch (where the post office is today). Members of the Black Watch Regiment met and signed a lease with Daniel Thynne, and the first game took place on that very day, with holes marked out by feathers and sticks.

In 1894, Old Tom Morris arrived to lend his design expertise and it says a lot that over a century later two of his greatest holes (Klondyke and The Dell)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ireland's Western Golfing Wonders

Connemara Links
There are always going to be great golf packages put together for golfers, whether they are coming to Ireland... or living here. 'Western Wonders' from Fairways & Fundays doesn't discriminate!

If you want to play three exceptional coastline courses - including my all-time favourite - and stay for four nights in four star accommodation on Ireland's stunning Wild Atlantic Way, then this is a package that's as good as it gets.

I know some people gripe about the cost of green fees over here - something I think is overdone when you consider prices elsewhere (Portugal, US, UK) - but you can't even

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Big Irish Golf Giveaways

There are a couple of big giveaways by Irish golf companies at the moment... just in case anyone is interested.

Irish Golfer Magazine, €30,000, Closing date 29th September. Enter HERE

My Golf Opens, €25,000, Closing date 31st August. Enter HERE


That's it. Knock yourselves out! Oh... prizes are:

Irish Golfer Magazine

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Northern Ireland NIOpen... half way there

2nd green at Galgorm Castle
Two tied for halfway NI Open lead.

Ross Kellett and Tom Murray share the halfway lead of the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf after both tackling very different conditions in Ballymena.

Out in the morning, Scotland’s Kellett played in rain reminiscent of his native highlands, his birdie-birdie finish taking him to eight-under-par after an impressive five-under second round 66.

Murray’s round, by contrast, was mostly in sunshine, though a stiffer breeze had picked up in the afternoon, but the Englishman’s second successive 67 took him into a share of the lead at Galgorm Castle.
 
3rd green and sunrise.
Kellett finished in the top 20 on his last outing in Sweden two weeks ago and he acknowledged that,

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Northern Irish Open 2017, Galgorm Castle

The wall fronting the 7th green at Galgorm Castle
The NIOpen starts in earnest tomorrow and Galgorm Castle Golf Club is in fine, fine shape. The club/management have been working hard to keep things 'fresh' on the course and there is now a lot more rough hugging bunkers, with the fescue adding hugely to the colour (and dangers) of the holes.

A new wall has been added to the front of the par 7th green - see photo above - which has given it a far sterner and classier appearance.

Entry to the NIOpen is free of charge and there will be a bigger buzz than usual - not