Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Follow Geoff Shackelford on Twitter @GeoffShac
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
So, you’ve finished playing 18 holes… badly… and you’re exhausted. At least you can relax in the clubhouse bar with a cool drink and a hot meal, and forget the endless misfortunes of your round. On days like that, the clubhouse becomes a welcome sanctuary, a barrier against your fizzled golfing brain.
But what if it was only your first round of the day? What if, over the next week, you had to play another 27 rounds of golf? That’s 72 holes a day for seven days.
It’s a mind-numbing, energy-sapping thought: seven consecutive days to play 504 golf holes.
Now consider that a round of golf covers approximately five miles and you’re talking 20 miles a day… to be played on foot!
If you still have the energy to read on, Kyle Hughes will be embarking on this challenge in June 2012. He’s 20, fit and has desires to be a professional golfer – he plays off 2.
I asked him some questions about his upcoming golfathon:
You’re 20, so what are you doing at the moment?
I'm in my last year of studying a BA Hons degree in golf coaching & performance at the University of Central Lancashire which looks at biomechanics, physiology, psychology, coaching, golf conditioning and skill development in golf.
What made you come up with this idea?
Before university, I used to play regularly with a golf society called 'Flame Spirit' who raise money for disabled & disadvantaged children and their families in Liverpool. They do this by putting on golf trips around the country and doing other various events.
I'm a guy that loves a challenge so last June, I approached the charity with an idea to play 4 rounds of golf a day for 7 days straight to help raise money in 2012, and this became 'The 504 Hole Challenge'.
So it’s for charity?
Yes. The charity has raised a lot of money over the past few years. Last year they raised close to £30,000 and used the money to help families pay for operations that they couldn’t afford for their children.
They don’t currently have a way of sponsoring on their website but they are working on it so I've put sponsor forms up in a few golf clubs in Liverpool and other places like my university, Blackpool and London. To date I have about 40 sponsors. I've also been using Twitter (@KyleHughesGolf) & Facebook to advertise the event and raise money that way. There’s also an easier way to donate via ‘JustGiving’ which will hopefully be up and running soon.
When’s the big week?
I start on Monday 4th June and finish on Sunday 10th June.
And how much golf are you playing at the moment?
Being at university has narrowed down my time to practise so the only times I get to play are when I represent the Uni in golf matches around the country.
Playing 504 holes is going to be tough on your body. How are you preparing for it physically?
Jon Bowskill (Bowskill Clinic) came to our campus and gave me some great advice. He told me to walk a lot in the run up to the event, whether this be on a treadmill or outdoors on the course itself. So whenever I'm home at the weekends I go for either two 4 mile jogs or a 10-15 mile walk. Along with this, I'm also doing strength, stability & flexibility training such as press-ups, squats, stretches and just about anything on a swiss ball!
Where is this event taking place? Is it one course or more?
I have been sponsored by the manager at Bootle Golf Course in Merseyside, and I will be playing all 504 holes there. It’s just under 6,400 yards and a par 70. I will be pushing my bag when I'm playing, which means I’ll get a shot at a Guinness World Record.
A Guinness World Record? Which one?
When I looked further into this challenge I found that there is a Guinness World Record for 'Most golf holes played in one week', but that was driving in a buggy – there isn’t one for walking. I'm currently waiting for a registration number of the charity and then I'm going to send an application form off to GWR and see what they say.
Hopefully, all will go well and I will complete the challenge without too many injuries, raise lots of money for a good cause and maybe, just maybe, get a Guinness World Record certificate.
And after that, what are your plans?
When I reach a handicap of scratch or better, then I will turn pro. I would also like to become T.P.I qualified one day and go down the Golf Training & Conditioning route.
Best of luck Kyle. Let us know how you get on... if you've still got the energy.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Carr Golf Travel doesn’t need much of an introduction, certainly not on these shores. As a leading golf tour operator of – shall we say – famous stock, the company creates unique golf vacations to Ireland, Scotland and a number of other golf destinations worldwide.
There are plenty of other ‘golf travel’ companies out there, but Carr Golf has a reputation, pedigree and a somewhat broader remit than most… for instance, the Carr Group also offers corporate and incentive travel as well as hosting golf events such as the World Invitational Father & Son Golf Tournament (to be held yet again at Waterville, between 8 and 12 August 2012).
Learn The Ropes
In other words, they know a thing or two about the golf travel business, so what better environment to start learning the ropes…
The company, based at the Elmgreen Golf Centre, Castleknock, Dublin 15, are now looking for someone to fill a six-month intern position, between April and September.
It’s an administration-based role but the candidate will also have the opportunity to learn how the company operates, specifically in the areas of Free Independent Traveller (FIT) Business (i.e. travel for 1 to 16 people) and Events.
They will be involved in the day-to-day tasks of the Travel Team, but will also get the opportunity to travel to Irish Events to see how they operate on site, and assist accordingly. It will be a busy environment and the learning curve steep, but it will be a bit of a ‘gold star’ on your CV and, who knows, if you perform brilliantly you may get yourself a full time job with the company.
Have You Got What It Takes?
I’m told there are no specific qualifications required, but Travel/Tourism Industry experience would be a plus, as would a knowledge of golf… but then if you’re on this blog the chances are that golf already plays some role in your life!
What you do need to have is enthusiasm, energy and strong organisational and administration skills.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
On 1st June approximately 75 golfers will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to win €1,000,000 in the Shot In A Million competition. Any golfer with that immeasurable combination of skill and luck who gets a hole in one on the signature 12th hole wins the money.
By the way, Golf Digest reports that the chance of an amateur getting a hole in one are 1 in 12,750. The odds of winning the Irish Lottery however are 1 in over 8M - 8,145,060 to be precise!
How Do I Qualify?
That's the beauty of it... you don't have to qualify... you just have to pitch up and pay your green fee on Monday to Thursday between now and the end of August 2011.
Not having to play well adds an extra something when your golf is so poor the only thing you'd legitimately qualify for is digging dirt out of a hole... I speak from the bitter experience of my St. Patrick's Day round.
[A prayer at the Druid's Altar, tucked in the trees by the 12th green, might help]
Play the Glen or the Heath
Golfers who play golf on either Druid's Glen or Druid's Heath championship golf courses will be entered into a daily draw, from which one winner will be invited back to play in the Druid's Glen Shot In A Million competition in June.
Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show
Or you can listen to the Today FM Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show from Tuesday 20th March to be in with a chance of winning one of 25 places being given away over the coming weeks.
How Much to Play?
Midweek green fees are as little as €50 on Druids Glen and €35 on Druids Heath.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
[Photo: Sunset on Malin Head]
Hotels, slimming plans, golf courses, teeth whitening, restaurants, suntan treatments – all the essentials you could ever need are listed on a dozen or more Irish sites.
It’s not like I have to tell you – you probably have emails coming in to your Inbox every day. I know I do, and I don’t usually do much about it… but every now and again there’s a reason to come out from under the covers.
Ballyliffin 4 Star
Ballyliffin Lodge is a 4 star hotel up on the beautiful Inishowen Peninsula, with views of Malin Head and along the coastline. I’ve visited the hotel (for an afternoon pint) and it is one of those easy, relaxing places to enjoy - quality, too.
Ballyliffin Golf Club
It also happens to be next door to the world class Ballyliffin Golf Club, with its two championship courses: the Old links, recently touched up by Nick Faldo, but still bearing all the hallmarks of its brilliant original design; and the more recent (1995) and more muscular Glashedy links, designed by Pat Ruddy. They’re a remarkable pair of siblings and you feel like you’re playing at the top of the world… although the many Swedish members would probably disagree.
[Photo: Ballyliffin's Old Course]
The offer is a half price stay at the hotel:
€150 instead of €300 for a 2 night stay for two people (i.e. €37.50 per person per night), with breakfast, and full access to the leisure facilities, as well as a €20 dining credit.
The good news is that the voucher is valid until the middle of June 2012 (with obvious black-out dates); the bad news is that the promotion expires today (sorry about that), Tues 13 March.
There’s also a one night stay offer, but with two courses to play, sure, how would you fit it all in!
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Then again, at least Aer Lingus and Ryanair are upfront.
Some other airlines which say there is no charge for carrying golf clubs are being somewhat disingenuous. They will carry them for ‘free’ as long as they are under a certain weight AND that they don’t exceed your baggage allowance… which for us mere mortals in Economy is ONE bag. Only a handful of airlines are true to the spirit of FREE!
Table: Golf Club Travel Costs Within Europe*.
Cost (per single flight)
Up to 32kg (which is odd as they codeshare with Aer Lingus so often)
Automatic Fee of
15kg max for a golf bag
Automatic Fee of
Free up to 23kg, with NO limit on number of bags.
20kg max for a golf bag
Automatic Fee of
Total baggage allowance up to 23kg.
Free if under your allowance AND it is your only piece of checked baggage. Otherwise, £30 - £40
Up to 23kg, golf clubs allowed in addition to normal allowance.
Up to 32kg
Automatic Fee of
I have absolutely no idea… look at their website (flybe.com) and if you can figure it out let me know!
Free up to 23kg.
No weight allowance given
Automatic Fee of
No weight restriction given, but clubs allowed in addition to normal allowance.
15kg max for a golf bag
Free if under your allowance AND it is your only piece of checked baggage. Otherwise, €35 - €70
20kg max for a golf bag
Automatic Fee of
23kg max for a golf bag
Free if under your allowance AND it is your only piece of checked baggage. Otherwise, €20 - €30
15kg max for a golf bag
Up to 23kg and two pieces of baggage
* Obviously there are other airlines (and flights to/from USA are not covered here) as well as travel companies like Monarch and Thomson, but these are the main airlines I found flying to Europe from Ireland and the UK.
Stuff It & Bag It
You could try getting around the ‘one bag’ rule by cramming all your clothes in with the golf bag so you’re only left with carry-on luggage, but when you’re golfing abroad you need to take a lot of kit with you… and some airlines restrict weight to a mere 15kg. Consider that the modern lightweight bag weighs approximately 3kg and a set of 14 clubs weighs 8kg and you’ll
appreciate that there’s barely enough room for balls, waterproofs, shoes** and the other general bits and pieces that seem to enter your bag via osmosis.
Besides, airlines are wise to the stuff-it and bag-it technique: SAS specify that you can take 14 clubs, one pair of shoes and 12 golf balls… let’s hope you’re not planning to play somewhere like The European Club on a windy day – you’ll only get half way round.
** On the subject of travelling with shoes, here’s an entertaining experience endured by one golf blogger (GolfMadChick) at Sydney Airport
The Extra Hard Work
With some airlines you can’t even pay for your clubs when booking online – you have to phone up and do that separately… and if you forget and have to do it at the airport then the price goes up.
So, what are the alternatives to paying these surcharges?
You could try FedEx, DHL or some other national carrier. I believe this is a popular method from the USA, but the simplest solution is to hire clubs when you get there.
I have hired golf clubs on a couple of occasions: once at Dalmahoy, outside Edinburgh, when I was given a crisp, clean and perfect set of Titleists; and again at Mulranny in Co. Mayo, where the bag contained a driver, a putter, a five iron from the Dark Ages and five wedges… but no shovel to clear the fairways of all the cow crap.
So, you take your chances, and you typically hire clubs at the golf course for the day, which can make it pricey over a number of rounds/days.
But consider the positives of hiring clubs:
a) You have less luggage to worry about. No cramming everything in, no cursing the golf travel case that never worked in the first place because the wheels fell off two days after you bought it, no dragging it across the floor to check-in as kids jump on for the ride and old people are brutally felled in your wake.
b) You don’t have to worry about damaging your clubs during transit, or having them stolen while you’re abroad. How do you protect that precious driver when it’s the longest club in the bag? The answer to that conundrum is to cut a broom handle down to size so it is marginally longer than your driver and will therefore take the pressure. Or you could use a hard travel case… and that’s another problem entirely.
c) You end up with different (often very new) golf clubs so it’s a new experience.
d) You don’t have to worry about the weight of your clubs/bag.
Yes, you don’t get to play with your own clubs, but perhaps you’ll get to play with something better, and play better too. Or you can just use it as an excuse.
McGinley’s Clubs To Hire
Clubs To Hire is an Irish outfit which operates in a number of countries and gives you the chance to hire clubs at various airports for a week. It sounds simple… a ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ moment, and it is proving highly successful.
In truth it was Tony Judge who set up the company under two years ago, with Paul McGinley a partner and a natural (marketing) figurehead.
Why is this such a good service? Actually, it’s obvious:
· Choice. Clubs For Hire provides a wide choice of golf clubs. You even get the chance to play with the latest clubs (e.g. Taylor Made R11S), which might whet your appetite when you want to upgrade your own.
· Price. Prices range from €35 a week to €55 a week, plus an optional €7 insurance to cover damage.
· Booking. Visit www.clubstohire.com and book online just as you do for any service nowadays.
· Airport Collection. You can pick them up from any of the 10 airports where the company operates: Alicante, Belek, Dublin, Edinburgh, Faro, Malaga and Murcia, with Gran Caria, Lisbon and Tenerife opening in the coming weeks.
You don’t even have to clean the clubs before bringing them back.
I have nothing to do with the company, but I think Clubs To Hire is an excellent solution to the quandary of taking your clubs abroad. You’re also paying your money to a company that cares about golf, and not to an airline which treats your bag as a ‘toss the caber’ competition.