Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mount Juliet - A Summer to Remember

A while back I put up a blog about Mount Juliet’s ‘Money Back’ offer. You paid, you played and if Rory won the Master’s you got your money back. We all know what happened on that occasion. After two days he was right up there and then day three was utter disaster. I thought he’s crush the bogeyman on his back last year, but not this time. I wonder how he’ll approach next year at Augusta.

Mount Juliet have decided they like the approach, and are repeating the offer for the US Open. The format is slightly different this time, and the offer applies to an Intermediate, Junior and Senior Scratch cup event which takes place on June 13th. Entry is €60.

EURO 2012 
But once you’re on a roll, why stop. So, to celebrate Ireland playing in EURO 2012, Mount Juliet are extending its entertaining 4-2-4 offer for the entire month of June. How does it work?  Play a fourball at Mount Juliet with the comfort of 2 buggies and then enjoy 4 steak dinners on your return to the clubhouse all for €424. 

That’s €106 for golf buggy and dinner on the course often rated the best parkland in Ireland sure ain’t bad. 4-2-4… geddit! If only Jedward had such imagination.

And if you prefer a fourball competitive environment the fun doesn’t stop there. For an entry fee of €160 per team of two, you can enter the 2012 Pairs Matchplay Tournament. Keep winning your matches and you could play at Mount Juliet five times for that upfront fee as well as claiming the title of Mount Juliet Pairs Matchplay Champions for 2012. Enter by Friday 8th June.

Head to the website and get the ball rolling. You shouldn't pass this opportunity by. It'd be an own goal. OK, OK, I'll stop.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Doonbeg/Doolin Offer (54% off)

And since Doonbeg was so recently on the menu, here's an offer that appeared today on the Megadeals website. It's not for the Lodge itself, but in the local village of Doolin.

€220 for a Weekend or 7 Night Holiday Stay for up to 5 Friends or Family at the superb Doonbeg Holiday Village, Co. Clare. That's down from €475.

A couple of things to note:
Voucher is valid until 30th September 2012, but NOT valid in July and August.

The offer ends on Friday (May 25) midnight.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Lodge at Doonbeg Cleans Up

Congratulations to Doonbeg for three great victories this week... and they have nothing to do with golf!

The Lodge at Doonbeg picked up three prestigious Irish Restaurant Awards held the Burlington Hotel in Dublin on Monday 14th May.

[Photo: The Long Room, and its glorious views. Photo courtesy of The Lodge at Doonbeg]

The 2012 Awards were sponsored by Santa Rita/Sunday Independent LIFE Magazine and celebrate all aspects of the food industry from Chefs and Restaurants to Food Producers, Local Food Heroes and Cookery Schools.

So what did Doonbeg win?

  • The Lodge was awarded the Best Hotel Restaurant in Ireland... as well as the Best Hotel Restaurant in Munster (obviously).
  • Head Chef Wade Murphy was named Best Hotel Chef in Munster, in the Long Room restaurant.... although he also prepares food for the more relaxed setting of Darby's Bar where the majority of golfers will find themselves.

Some sample menus are available here:
The Long Room
Darby's Bar

 [Photo: Darby's Bar. Photo courtesy of The Lodge at Doonbeg]

Joe Russell, General Manager at the Lodge, said: “These are the awards that everyone wants to win. I’d like to congratulate all of the team who continue to deliver unrivalled service and quality under the leadership of Wade who has done a terrific job raising the standard of food offering at The Lodge.”

A Golfing Appetite

[Photo: Not my Fish & Chips, but close enough. Photo courtesy of The Lodge at Doonbeg]

From a golfer's point of view, it is a great motivation after a tough round of golf to know that you're going to get some seriously good grub. When you're playing on one of Ireland's best courses, with an Atlantic sea breeze adding to the workload and filling your lungs with joy, you'll have worked up an impressive appetite by the time you walk off the 18th green.

It's been a while since I was there, but the Fish and Chips still live long in the memory... and not just because of the price. It is steep, for sure, but then the Lodge at Doonbeg is all about quality, from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. And, to be honest, it starts even before that because you see the Lodge rising out of the landscape on your approach, with only the Atlantic ocean beyond.

Greg Norman's Course

Norman's design is a triumph. It is a course in which to immerse yourself, to roll with the dunes (and the punches they deliver), and to draw inspiration from. There is so much to enjoy as you come back to Doughmore Bay on four occasions, and the view from the 9th green, back to the Lodge, is inspiring.

Green Fees range from €90 - €140.

[Photo: view from the 9th green, over the tee box and back to the Lodge]

It is only fitting that the Lodge, the facilities and the food match that quality, and you pay for what you get... so congratulations to everyone at Doonbeg for showing what Irish Golf Clubs (and chefs) should aspire to.

Follow The Lodge at Doonbeg on Twitter: @LodgeatDoonbeg
Follow Chef Wade Murphy on Twitter: @chefwademurphy

For a full list of the winners, in the various categories, click here for the Irish Food Guide Blog.

Carlow Golf Club... for €30

Just Treats Golf - a dedicated golf 'Deal' website - have just struck a sweet vein of gold with one of their current offers.

[Photo: the par four, downhill 8th]

Carlow Golf Club can be played for €30. The details and terms and conditions are here (notably, green fees are valid Monday to Friday, but they're valid until August 16th), but this is not an offer you'll see very often from a club of this quality. Carlow is one of the old distinguished gentlemen of Irish golf - it's classy, somewhat aloof and old school. It feels very natural and it has also been left relatively untouched in the cut and thrust of the modern game that demands length and endless mounding and shaping. Simply compare Carlow to nearby Mount Wolseley and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Holes like 4, 7, 8, 14 and 16 are worth the green fee alone, and that doesn't include the four sweet par threes.

[Photo: the lethal par four 16th]

There's only a day or so left (offer ends lunchtime Friday 18th) so take a look at the offer and start rounding up your friends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's in the Grain... the Nutri-Grain Challenge

A heads up for anyone who likes to enter golf competitions of one description or another and, personally, this is the sort of thing I think is brilliant. You're not playing 18 holes - rather you're testing your skills across seven categories around the course:
  1. Driving 
  2. The 135-metre shot
  3. Pitching
  4. Getting up and down
  5. Bunker play 
  6. Difficult lies 
  7. Putting
It introduces a much greater element of fun and you can watch your fellow competitors' successes and disappointments. 

[Photo: the daunting drive on the 18th at Malone, outside Belfast]

The GUI National Golf Academy has announced a new partnership with Kellogg's, and launched this relationship with the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Golf Skills Challenge. This new competition intends on finding Ireland’s most skilled golfers in the above seven skills' categories. 

The challenge is open to golfers over the age of 18 who have an official GUI or ILGU handicap. You enter online at It is also worth your while to read up on the Rules as there are a fair few of them - nothing insurmountable mind you.

Understanding the Scoring: 
This 'Score Card' might give you a better idea of what is expected.
Qualifying Events:
Regional qualifying events will be held at: 
Friday 8th June 2012 at Co. Sligo Golf Club. Entry closed 
Friday 15th June 2012 at Charleville Golf Club. Closing date: 18 May
Friday 22nd June 2012 at Donabate Golf ClubClosing date: 25 May
Friday 27th July 2012 at Malone Golf ClubClosing date: 22 June
Friday 10th August 2012 at Hollystown Golf ClubClosing date: 13 July
The final is scheduled for the Golfing Union of Ireland National Academy at Carton House in September.

[Photo: the 2nd hole on Hollystown's 'Blue' 9]

While this may be an 'informative' blog, I should take the opportunity to point out that the quality of the courses varies widely. Co. Sligo is sheer class (note: sadly, entry has closed). Malone is a parkland beauty. Charleville is tight, sweet and tree-lined... Donabate and Hollystown... I can't think of a polite way to describe either! Two very dull courses by comparison and completely at odds with the other three. It makes it a very odd gathering.

Overall Winner:
3 Hour Short Game Clinic for winner and 3 friends at the GUI National Golf Academy with GUI National Coach, Neil Manchip
6 x 30 minute lessons at the Academy with Kenny Fahey.
Yoga for Golf Introductory Session with Anne Marie Kennedy at the GUI National Golf Academy (1 hour, for 4 people)
Crystal trophy
Runner Up: 
Short Game Clinic for winner and 3 friends at the GUI National Golf Academy with Kenny Fahey
Crystal trophy
4 x 30 minute lessons at the Academy with Kenny Fahey
Crystal trophy

1 hour putting lesson with SAM Analysis at GUI National Golf Academy
Crystal trophy

There will be category prizes awarded in addition to the prizes above, based on qualifying scores at qualifying venues. No player may win prizes in excess of the prescribed limits as outlined in the Rules of Amateur Status.

I can't find one... it mentions a 'fee' but it's not listed on the site. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

South County GC Closes

So, South County Golf Club, in Brittas, has closed. To say it was unexpected is an understatement – although members of the club are indicating that there had been trouble brewing for a while. There are 32 pages of comments on the Boards Golf Forum already, with claims and counter-claims flying back and forth. In such a scenario, when members wake to a text saying the club is closed, effective immediately, that’s not surprising. The club had over 600 members, and the majority of those have been left with burnt fingers – some sizeably so (the joining ‘share’ when the club opened in 2002, was €25,000).

I am in no position to comment on the financial problems the club faced, nor the position the bank and landlord found themselves in, but losing South County is a sad day. It was an exciting course (it scored 82/100 in Hooked) and was in great condition when I played it. When I discussed the state of Irish golf earlier in the year, I suggested that some 20-30 clubs needed to be weeded out to encourage the health and growth of other Irish golf clubs. I never dreamt that South County would be one of those, and it is not one I would ever have picked.

In situations like this, there will always be theories, pointed fingers and conspiracies. Committees, Councils, Boards… call them what you like… always bear the brunt of the accusations, and, having seen how badly some of these executives can screw up, it’s no wonder.

I have a few questions that keep rattling around in my head, related to the here and now:
·      If the club closed immediately, who now owns the machinery? The landlord has taken the land (course) back and is allowing people to play there for €10 a round. Does he own the equipment? Has he bought it from South County Golf Club (2004) Ltd., the company operating the club/course?
·      What about the clubhouse? Who is and isn’t entitled to use it?
·      From a marketing point of view, who owns the data on all of the members? If that information belonged to South County Golf Club (2004) Ltd., who has the rights to it now? The Data Commissioner would not be impressed if that data was simply given to someone else without the approval of those the information is about.

There are meetings of shareholders/members/creditors lined up for the week ahead. True, there are too many issues and bad feelings for the club to survive in its current form, but as Bonnamassa asked on the Boards: “Does anyone hold out any hope that a phoenix might rise from the ashes?

No doubt this will run for a lot longer but hopefully something can be hammered out and South County golf course will remain as one of the city’s best parklands. I'll certainly be heading back if that's the case.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Atlantic Coast Challenge Prize - 2nd Chance

As the two weeks are now up and over, and the person chosen has not been in touch to claim their prize in that time, I have had to draw a new winner for the Atlantic Coast Challenge prize

The winner is Denisoc16 - a member of
See you up there