Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Moyvalley and New Forest 'All Your Money Back'

Mount Juliet started the If-Rory-McIlroy-Wins-The-Masters rush, with an offer of refunding all fourball green fees for those who enter their Major Series, between March 16th and the opening day of the Masters at Augusta (click here for details).

Now Moyvalley Golf Club in Co. Kildare, designed by the great Darren Clark, and New Forest Golf Club in Co. Westmeath, have upped the ante with a money back offer on your membership fee...

... so, join either golf club between Friday March 30th and Friday April 6th and if Rory wins you get your membership fee back... that's €850. Follow the above link for the contact details if you're interested in joining.

The golf clubs are pitching it as "possibly the best golf offer anywhere in Ireland.
" Hard to disagree with that sentiment at the moment!

Donald Trump's Ultimate Performance

Geoff Shackelford is a contributing writer to Golf World and Golf Digest (, and is based in California.

This morning he posted a YouTube video of The Duck performing Bohemian Rhapsody... no, not at a wedding, and no, not at a Japanese late night karaoke bar (although that might have been funnier). Donald performs his magical rendition courtesy of the imagination of Hazel Cameron, who decided that enough is enough - which is another song entirely (by Status Quo) - and went the Spitting Image route. No doubt Donald will have this on his Favourites list.


Follow Geoff Shackelford on Twitter @GeoffShac

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The 504 Hole Challenge - for Charity

[Photo: Kyle Hughes in the swing of things]

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

Ireland's Ten Toughest Golf Courses

The toughest courses in Ireland... can you guess which ones they are from the photographs and hole details?

Number 1: The tough par four opening hole - another of Ruddy's gems

Number 2: The par four 9th and one of the most famous holes in golf

Number 3: View from green to tee on the par four 18th. Heathland and parkland combined in Co. Wicklow... the 12th is probably the toughest hole in the country.

Number 4: Green to tee on the par three 3rd in Co. Sligo

Number 5: View from the 12th green on one of Ireland's wettest parklands in Co. Meath

Number 6: The par four 1st on Wicklow's finest

Number 7: The par four 1st in Northern Ireland

Number 8: The par four 18th - and clubhouse - with Sisters rising beyond

Number 9: The par 4 1st on the full Monty

Number 10: The 16th par three on one of the remotest courses in Ireland

If you've got the answers... and even if you don't... check out this blog where you'll find names and descriptions.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Carr Golf Travel & A Six Month Intern Position

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.

How much will you get paid… well I suggest you contact or and ask the question when you send in your CV.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rory 'Payback' at Mount Juliet Major Series

[Photo: the par three 11th is a sweet hole, although golfers on mobile phones should be weighed down with rocks and left in the bottom of the pond.]

As mentioned yesterday, Mount Juliet have just launched their Majors Series, in the run up to the Masters at Augusta.

This Series is an opportunity for you and three friends to enter as a fourball and play one of the top parkland courses (more than one Ranking lists Mount J as THE top parkland in the country) with a couple of very attractive additional incentives thrown in...

Pro Am

If your team wins this Series event - which is open between now and April 5th - you will qualify for the Mount Juliet Major Grand Slam in September... win that and the Lexus Race to Mount Juliet Pro Am beckons.

The Series event is a straightforward Stableford format where two scores count on 16 holes, and all four count on holes 9 and 18.

Rory Payback

And second, you will get all of your green fees back if Rory wins the Masters. In other words, you get payback if Rory gets payback. Not a bad gamble when you think about it.

Green Fees

You can play any day of the week and green fees are exactly what you'd pay on the day...
starting from €60 per head.

To register interest in the Mount Juliet Major Open event contact Mount Juliet on (056) 777 3000 or click here to book your fourball.

[Photo: the par four 18th, from green to tee, with that water threatening your approach shot all the way.]

The 10th Hole

The par five 10th is listed as my 'Best 10th hole in the country'. The drive may be a straightforward affair, but after that it's all about choices. A copse of large trees fronts the green and the golfer can go left of it (the more obvious option) or right of it (marginally shorter but the angle of the green is less favourable and the sea of bunkers is most distracting)... and it all depends on whether you're long enough to open up the green. I guarantee that unless you hit the perfect shot you'll scratch your head and think: 'I knew I should have gone the other way.'

Monday, March 19, 2012

Druid's Glen - 1 in a €Million

Ever more inventive ways are coming along to make us Irish golfers sit up and take notice: Mount Juliet have just launched a Majors Open Series (more on that in the next day or two) and there I was thinking what a great promotion when along comes Druid's Glen with something that really grabs the attention. It helps of course that Druid's is one of my top two parkland courses and I have blogged about its brilliance a number of times, but who wouldn't want a shot at winning €1,000,000!

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.

[Photo: the par three 12th, from above the green looking back to the tee]

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

Ballybunion Cashen... A Question of Design.

[Photo: the final approach of the day, with clubhouse behind]

Why is it that the Cashen course at Ballybunion Golf Club causes such controversy... or is it only amongst links purists? I have had several conversations with golfers who complain that the Cashen is not a 'real' or 'proper' links... not like the famous Old course next door.
I even understand why people complain: the Cashen, which opened in 1982, combines links landscape (and what a landscape it is) with target golf. In other words, there's no room for traditional bump and run, which is how the designer (Robert Trent Jones Senior) wanted it to be.

My question is: why is that wrong? Why is it any different to creating a parkland lined with huge mounds and fake water features? Why is it different to a links course where dunes are re-located, flattened or built up?

Surely a course designer - rightly or wrongly - has the freedom, the imagination and skill, and the backing of the club/investors to do what he or she has been hired to do. Isn't that the point of paying them!

LinkedIn Conversation

This blog was prompted by something I read on LinkedIn: On one of the Group discussions (Irish Golf), Arthur Spring, Irish golf course designer, was discussing where to play in Kerry. He said, and I quote: "Only the Old in BB. Avoid the Cashen."

Really! Would you want to avoid this...

[Photo: the par three 16th]

There is no implied criticism of Mr. Spring here, by the way. He's a professional designer; I am not - nor have I ever claimed to be, but I know when I look at a course whether I like it or not. When you, as a golfer, arrive at a different club you know fairly quickly whether you like the course and its design, don't you. The beauty of the Cashen is that it draws you in quickly.

How Big is Your Green?

So, other than the 'target golf' complaint, what else do golfers not like? Apparently the greens are too small!!! Surely greens are as big as they need to be... they simply require you to be more accurate, and that's what Trent Jones was asking golfers to do.

[Photo: approach to the par five 15th]

In For Free

The Cashen is not to everybody's taste and not enough visitors are paying to play it. Ballybunion GC recognise this: they now include it 'free' when you pay to play the Old course, but I wouldn't miss it for the world. It has one of the most enthralling back nines in Irish golf and, like its sibling, it ends above the sea. Hopefully the photographs will give you a taste - but there are plenty more here.

When I met the Captain on my visit in 2008, he muttered that they had a war chest of money to get the Cashen redesigned (by Martin Hawtree), so that it could follow more traditional roots. I see the logic - a course is there to be played after all and Ballybunion would become an even mightier destination if their second course was compared more favourably with the Old.

I love it, and I would be disappointed if it is redesigned. Is it not a good thing to have something that is different? Nothing has happened yet, due to the recession no doubt, but at least I can say I have had the joy and the privilege of playing it.

If you, dear reader, have played the course, I would love to hear your thoughts.

[Photo: approach to the 13th, par four and Index 1]

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rathsallagh Offer of €59 for Four Rounds...

[Photo: view from the par five 6th green back down the fairway]

Since Groupon was mentioned yesterday - Ballyliffin Lodge - I'll continue with the theme as this Rathsallagh offer dropped into my Inbox this morning. Rathsallagh is one of my favourite courses in what has to be the most parkland of parkland settings. Big trees stand idly by and the course proudly claims that not one tree was felled during the construction of the golf course... you'll wish a few of them had! Holes like 3,6,9,14,15 and 18 all have trees showing more interest in your shots than you would like. But it's idyllic, and the offer is an excellent one.

[Photo: view back down the 2nd]

You buy a voucher for €59, which entitles you and a friend to play a round of golf on ANY day of the week before 31 May... plus you are then entitled to play a second round between Monday and Friday, also before 31 May. Throw in a free breakfast on your first visit, and that's some deal.

Oh, and since I'm keeping to themes, this offer expires tonight at midnight... but the offer only came through at 4am today.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The 'Groupon' Age Hits Ballyliffin

[Photo: the view from the 7th tee on Glashedy, back to the clubhouse]

The Groupon Age has given consumers a certain expectation… sure, why would I pay for that when it’s probably available on one of them there discount sites for 70% off… and one they can usually satisfy as there is so much choice. The problem is that you often end up buying something you don’t want.

[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.

Click here if interested.

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

Have Clubs, Will Travel... The Question is How.

Really, seriously, do the likes of Ryanair and Aer Lingus actively want to discourage club-carrying golfers from travelling with them anymore? Charging up to €100 to carry ‘Sports Equipment’, which is automatically labelled as excess or oversize baggage, seems increasingly ridiculous when you consider that:

1. Other airlines do it for far cheaper or free – which just makes Ryanair look insanely greedy (see Table below).
2. You can hire the latest models of club for a week, for about the same price as it costs to transport yours with some airlines.


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)

Aer Arann

Up to 32kg (which is odd as they codeshare with Aer Lingus so often)

Automatic Fee of

Aer Lingus

15kg max for a golf bag

Automatic Fee of

Air France

Free up to 23kg, with NO limit on number of bags.


BMI Baby

20kg max for a golf bag

Automatic Fee of

British Airways

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 ( 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

TAP Portugal

15kg max for a golf bag


Turkish Airlines

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?

Shipping Clubs

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.

Hiring Clubs

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 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.