Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Social Media Open 2013 - Mount Juliet Action

The inaugural Social Media Open Irish Golf tournament came to an end on Sunday, April 14th, 2013. This blog is just a few months late! But that's due to Golf Monthly magazine who were kind enough to hire me to take photographs, which meant I couldn't release the shots until the mag was published... which it was a few days ago.

A Tragic, Timely Reminder... golf and the weather

On Saturday, 28th December, Dougie Johnstone was found dead on Hinckley Golf Club (Leicestershire, UK), the club where he was Course Manager. He had been hit by a falling branch while working on the course.

This is a timely reminder for all golfers that winter, particularly, brings its own set of dangers to the golf course. The UK and Ireland have been battered by winds in recent weeks leading to falling branches and entire trees. And while you're unlikely to be golfing in 150 km/h winds, please remember that the aftermath can be just as dangerous. The winds may have stopped but, combined with the rain, root systems might have been weakened and trees can still topple. They do so, silently.

And since we're on the subject of dangerous weather conditions, do you know what you should do if you're caught out in a lightning storm? Sheltering under the tallest tree is not the answer! Also, stay away from your clubs/trolley/buggy as the metal can conduct electricity... as can your metal spikes, so take off your shoes if that's what you're wearing.

Follow the link for the full Leicester Mercury story.

If you're on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or any of the other dozens of social media channels, please share this blog (buttons at end of this post) and/or the Leicester Mercury story... and help to ensure that we avoid any more weather induced fatalities/injuries on our golf courses. Thank you.

[Story/Link via Al Dunsmuir of http://www.golfclubmanagement.net]

Saturday, December 28, 2013

"The 10 Worst Golfers to Win a Recent Major Championship"

It's the type of title that makes you wonder 'who's the muppet who wrote this article?'

Evan Hilbert, apparently.

It's from the CBS Sports website (December 26) and not only do they list the golfers, they also rank them.

What exactly is the point of an article like this?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Irish Christmas Golf Quiz

Q. 24
Need a break from the family festivities? Fancy a few minutes of peace and quiet? Need time to digest all that delicious grub? 

Sit back and relax with this Irish Christmas Golf Quiz. Here are 30 questions covering the golfing year. The majority focus on Irish golf, but there are some with a more international flavour, too.

It's really just for fun, but I have a goodie bag of bits and pieces I've been given during the year if you want to leave your answers in the 'Comments' box at the end of the post.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Green Fee Winner For 7th Ranked Hidden Courses

Congratulations to Shane Cowzer who wins the free four balls to Rossmore in Co Monaghan and Corballis in Co Dublin.

A nice start to the Christmas festivities.

If you want to win a free four ball for Dundrum House in Co. Tipperary, see the blog below.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ireland's Top Ten Hidden Golf Courses - No. 6

Approach to the 17th at Dundrum House
(photo courtesy of Dundrum House)
We're almost at the halfway point of Ireland's Best Fairways Less Travelled. Ireland has 350 18-hole golf courses, so picking out 10 (the parklands especially) is extremely difficult. I have no doubt that people will now be thinking about their favourites which should make the top five - I have no doubt some will be disappointed. In the meantime, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

You can win four balls to one of these 6th-ranked courses, while the two free fourballs for the 7th-ranked courses can still be won up until 6pm on Monday Dec 23rd (follow the link below). 

Parkland: Dundrum House
Links: Royal County Down (Annesley)

For the 7th-ranked, click here 
For the 8th-ranked, click here
For the 9th-ranked, click here

For the 10th-ranked, click here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Top 100 Golf Courses - Britain & Ireland

The tall dunes of Enniscrone loom up beyond the
7th green (photo taken from 8th tee)
Another rankings has hit the online golfing community – this one from the authoritative Top 100 Golf Courses website… if you don’t know it, the site ranks courses worldwide, country by country, county by county. It’s an excellent resource.

The Britain & Ireland 2014 list was published three days ago and it includes 24 Irish courses. Here are their positions within the list:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ireland's Top Ten Hidden Golf Courses - No. 7

The new 4th at Corballis  - a par three with views out to Ireland's Eye
We're now up to Number 7 in the rankings of Ireland's Best Fairways Less Travelled - those courses rarely seen in the glossy brochures or on golfing tourism websites... and yet they are packed with thrills.

You can win four balls to both of these 7th-ranked courses: 

Parkland: Rossmore
Links: Corballis

For the 8th-ranked, click here
For the 9th-ranked, click here
For the 10th-ranked, click here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Green Fee Winners For 8th, 9th and 10th Ranked Hidden Courses

Mulranny and a 3 iron.
The first draw has been made and the winners are:

Cathal Shanahan, who wins a free four ball to both 10th-ranked courses, Bearna and Mulranny. And they're pretty close together, too.

Shane O'Donoghue wins the four ball to the 9th-ranked course, Esker Hills.

Spurs Murray (aka Darren) wins the four ball to both 8th-ranked courses, West Waterford and Seapoint... a bit more travel involved in that one!

Congratulations guys. I'll be emailing you for addresses.

The 7th-ranked courses will be going up tomorrow. I'll give you a hint: one's in Dublin, the other's in Monaghan... any guesses?

Dunmurry Springs - Fourball for €60

If you're still looking for a Christmas Golf gift, every club in the land will be offering four ball vouchers...

... here's one we prepared earlier!

€60 for a four ball to Dunmurry Springs.

It's a fine course and one that's getting finer by the day. You'll find a blog about the course from this summer, here. You'll find photos here. You'll find their new website here.

Don't say I haven't got everything gift-wrapped for you. The course recently ranked at number 44 in Golfing Magazine's Top 50 Parkland Courses... and the course was designed by Mel Flanagan (a favourite designer of mine) so quality is assured.

For more info, or to buy your voucher, contact 045 531400 or visit their website.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Short Game - The (short) Review

A feature documentary was released in September 2013, entitled The Short Game. It follows the lives of eight golfers as they prepare to compete in the 'World Championships' of golf at Pinehurst in North Carolina... and then compete in the three day event itself.

It's probably important to mention at this point that these golfers are seven years old and they're competing against their peers from over 50 countries.

Is it worth a look? Absolutely, and here are 10 reasons why:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Irish Golf and the Digital Age – JustTreats.com

Hard to believe that two years have passed since JustTreats arrived on the Irish golf scene. What started out as simple discounted green fees has expanded into other areas… golf apparel, clubs, balls, lessons. Golfers who sign up for the offers (via email) get sent regular communications about current deals… today’s is for Dromoland Castle… and there’s a hefty ‘birthday’ prize up for grabs as well. 
12th hole at Dromoland Castle

Ireland's Top Ten Hidden Golf Courses - No. 8

The 13th at Seapoint
Call them what you like, but Ireland has so many golf courses of the Fairways Less Travelled variety that it is difficult to pick a top ten... certainly without feeling bad about the clubs that don't quite make it... and there are many of those.

The 8th-ranked courses are: 

Parkland: West Waterford
Links: Seapoint

For the 9th-ranked, click here
For the 10th-ranked, click here.

There are two free fourballs up for grabs at the end of this post - one for each club... and you can still win fourballs for the 9th and 10th ranked courses.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ireland's Top Ten Hidden Golf Courses - No. 9

Esker Hills 8th - a sharp dogleg right

Here's the second blog on Ireland's best Fairways Less Travelled... or Hidden Gems.

These are the 9th-ranked courses. For the 10th-ranked, click here.

Parkland: Esker Hills
Links: Laytown & Bettystown

There's a free fourball up for grabs at the end of this post.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ireland's Top Ten Hidden Golf Courses - No. 10

Barbed wire around Mulranny's sloping greens
What do you call those sweet courses that most golfers have never heard of or been told about? 'Hidden Gems' is a term I'm not too fond of - who hides their gems?

After some input from the gang on Boards.ie I got some useful alternatives... of which Fairways Less Travelled was perfect.

So here are Ireland's top 20 Fairways Less Travelled: 10 links and 10 parkland. Each blog will have free fourballs to be won.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Battle of the Irish Golf Course Rankings

Ballybunion Cashen - one of GDI's biggest
climbers, up 13 to 66th
This year, Irish golfers got three sets of golf course rankings to either agree with, be inspired by, moan about or vent their fury over. Comments on Boards.ie and Twitter included:

"The list is a joke, when I saw Strandhill in the high 40s that said enough."

"I have no problem seeing Tralee and Lahinch number 2 and 3, you couldn't say they aren't good enough."

"Ardglass Down 14 (to 89)! The biggest drop on the list - crazy! Rest my case"*

That's the nature of lists like these. Here are two tables comparing the links and parkland top 15 rankings from:
- Golf Digest Ireland's (GDI) Top 100
- Golfing Weekly's Top 50s and
- Backspin's Top 30s

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Golfing Gifts for Christmas 2013

Who wants what for Christmas? Who wants what to give the golfer in his/her life?

For years I’ve struggled with presents for my dad. It’s gardening, golf, jumpers and wine. That’s it. I tend to rotate… or at least I used to. He now has enough jumpers to rival Daniel O’Donnell, although they are somewhat more tasteful.
He’s 82 and he’s not the gardening demon that he once was.

That leaves wine and golf… so this year I’ve bought him a book on how to play golf drunk.

Here are five other golfing ideas:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Memory Of A Golfing Elephant

No, not a blog about elephants that have taken to the fairways - this is about a friend of mine.

I'm sure Ronan won't appreciate me calling him an elephant, but his memory demands no other comparison.

People have expressed surprise at how well I can remember all the golf courses and holes that I played in those heady camper van days of 2007 and 2008... but Ronan makes such memories look like amateur-hour.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Royal County Down – Inspiring The Soul (Part 2)

The 3rd hole (from the back tees)
David Owen flew in from the United States, landing in Dublin before sunrise. He drove his hire car ever northwards, heading for the rust-coloured Mourne Mountains that slide into the Irish Sea. Once there and in glorious sunshine he teed it up on the par five 1st hole of one of the world’s greatest courses, and split the fairway with his drive.

It doesn’t get much better than that… but it did. Two shots later, David sank an eight foot putt for an eagle. Royal County Down (RCD) doesn’t give up many eagles, and one on the 1st hole is as good as a trophy on the mantelpiece.  The Head Pro, Kevan Whitson, picked David’s ball out of the hole and expressed his admiration… I was still going from one side of the hole to the other, feeling like a spare wheel. David took three shots to get into the hole; I three-putted and still hadn’t found the cup.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Golf1Million - Amateur Golf's First $1,000,000 Trophy

What would it feel like to stand over a three foot putt, knowing that if you – a mere amateur golfer – sink it a gold trophy worth $1,000,000 is yours? That’s one million dollars in case you doubt all those zeros. There is no other event in world sport with a trophy of this value.

It would be something else wouldn’t it! Not to mention being in Las Vegas, with cameras and hordes of spectators following your every stroke, your every step, your every nervous twitch. In these parts they call that pressure… the kind that the Woods and McIlroys of this world endure every week.

My question is – are you man enough?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Top Ten Golf Courses in Galway

Connemara's sweet par three 13th
The lads at Bearna Golf Club contacted me the other day about a 'Top Ten Golf Courses in Galway' that they'd discovered online. They sent me the link and it made my hair stand on end... quite a feat for me. The lads were also confused because not only was Bearna not on the list, but neither was Connemara Golf Links (aka Ballyconneely). Add in that the renowned Galway Golf Club was listed as a '9 hole executive golf course' and the list is shockingly bad.  

Actually, it's embarrassing.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Making Golf Marketing Work (part 2 of 2)

Following on from the first part of this article on Golf Marketing, here are six more ideas that golf clubs can pursue to build business. As said previously, these vary from the social media sphere to the downright obvious (and yet people still get them wrong).

Generating Customer Loyalty can wait till another time.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Social Media Golf Open 2014... Year 2

Doonbeg's stunning seaside 6th hole
2013 was the inaugural year of this golf event and to say it was a success is an understatement. 30 something pairs came together to fight it out (four ball better ball format) for an impressive trophy that took four rounds of golf to decide. The courses played are frequently listed among Ireland's best. 

The age profile hovered around the 30-40 mark which made the evenings... livelyWith accommodation arranged (it was an optional part of the package) it also meant that a good camaraderie was established early on, and isn't that the best part of golf. If you can't slag off the guys you're playing with there's little point turning up!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Irish Golf - A Summer of Photographs

Approach to Waterford's 14th
The superb summer we enjoyed this year meant great golf for hard-pressed members and tourists alike. No doubt there are many Irish golf clubs that will be breathing a sigh of relief... and praying for more of the same next year.

 I played a lot of golf but I also spent much of my time taking photographs and building up my Flickr account to over 6,000 images. Here are some links to the 28 golf courses visited. Some were taken on clear, sunny days and some were taken with grey Irish skies - it couldn't all be perfect. Click for links:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Making Golf Marketing Work (part 1 of 2)

The Heritage. Despite its woes, it has strong marketing.
How many Irish and British golf clubs out there would you say are hip and trendy, living in the now, reaching out to the younger golfing generation?

Yea, that's what I thought too! A lot of our golf clubs are trampling their way through marketing undergrowth that is so tired it has been flattened, widened, paved and turned into a super highway of indifference. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Royal County Down - Inspiring The Soul (Part 1)

Royal County Down on a November morning. I have yet to play this Irish links royalty outside the autumn/winter months, but there are no temporary greens here, no mats to play off and no lifting the ball from the fairway and placing it in the rough. No, here it's just the links as the heavens and the likes of Old Tom Morris intended you to play it.

I shall write a more detailed blog in due course - David's eagle on the par five 1st deserves no less - but for now, the following images should inspire the soul.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Golf Clubs Attending 2nd Annual Dublin Golf Promotion Night Are...

Any guesses which course this is (from the list below)?
Following on from last week's post on the Golf Promotion Night... here's a list of the golf clubs who will be attending this coming Wednesday, Nov 6th. Come to the Ballsbridge Hotel (formerly Jurys) after 5pm. It's free and clubs will be promoting their courses, offering special packages for societies and membership and giving away free fourballs, among other things.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ireland's Golfing Bucket List - The Top Ten

Statue of Payne Stewart by the practice green
A couple of weeks back, I gave the American website Golficity a bit of a dig about their Ten Courses To Play Before You Die... because they were all in the US.

The result of that post was Golficity asking if I cared to write a piece for them naming Ireland's Top Ten Bucket List courses. It seemed only fair that I put myself in a position to be hauled over the coals, so I accepted willingly.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Curse of the Celtic Tiger on Irish Golf

Dunmurry Springs, par three 15th, green to tee
I had a good-natured Twitter spat with someone the other day, regarding the cost of green fees at Ireland's golf courses. He was English and he said that it was time for Ireland's golf courses to 'get their prices right and not rip off (golf tourists) like the past'.

An unfair comment on three fronts:
  1. Green fee prices have fallen dramatically in the past four years (frequently by 40-50%)
  2. There has ALWAYS been value in Irish golf... if you knew where to look
  3. GB green fees are not exactly 'bargains'
'Sadly, damage was done when Eire courses priced us brits out of the market' was one of his comments, implying that golfers from Great Britain turned away from Ireland as a golfing destination when the Celtic Tiger ran rampant. The figures bear it out too, with GB golfing tourist numbers declining after 2008. Even today, when almost every other market is delivering growth, GB numbers remain in the doldrums. It is worth remembering, too, that golfers from GB once made up 66% of all visiting golfers.

So, what next?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lough Erne Resort Golf Events 2013/2014

So often when winter comes, courses batten down the hatches and go in to an automaton state for the winter. I’m not talking about the work on the course or the members filling in the reduced timesheets every week – I’m talking about the focus on visitors and societies. Passionate summer golfers have faded into the TV armchair personnel who shout at referees, scream in glory or rage at perceived injustices.
Now is the time when hardcore golfers thrive. And the beautiful Lough Erne Resort is giving these golfers every opportunity to play, with a wide range of events running from November to January. Entry to any and all of these events is £40pp, so if you've never had the privilege now would be a good time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

2nd Annual Dublin Golf Promotion Night

Last year, Golf Ireland hosted a 'golf promotion' night in the old Burlington Hotel in Dublin. It was promoted a bit 'softly softly' so there weren't vast crowds in attendance. Considering the prizes and giveaways that were available, it was all a bit muted. The big clubs were there (Mount Juliet, Ballyliffin, Headfort, Carne etc), the smaller clubs too (Esker Hills, Charlesland) along with hotels and various golf product companies... but footfall was definitely on the light side.

Golf Ireland have just launched the same event for Dublin, on Wednesday 6th November, and this time the word is being spread earlier and more strongly.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Golf Gets a Grip (A Review)

He was in his teens, gangly and clearly confused. He was standing on the 1st tee with an older man who was doling out advice.
 “Put your hands like that,” the man said, demonstrating the baseball grip on the club he held.
“Like this?” the kid asked, using the reverse grip favored by hurlers.
“No, the other way around.”
“That’s mad, I can’t do that.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ten Courses to Play Before You Die

If you're expecting to see a nice juicy list of top golf courses or an Irish golf vacation itinerary, you're not going to get it. No, this is more of a rant than a recommendation and it started because of a ranking I saw recently... one that proclaimed it was a 'bucket list' of Ten Courses to Play Before You Die... if You're Lucky.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Getting to The Roots of Grass, Greens and Greenkeepers

Got your head around that title yet?

As an active member of the Boards Golf Forum, there are plenty of threads that interest me greatly... but earlier today a new member signed up and started posting. With the cunning User Name of 'Fescue' it is apparent that the man is a greenkeeper... and he's here to help.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Inside The Ropes - Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort

The 15th, and a whole lot of water.
My drive on Adare’s 15th had refused to draw. Not even an inch. It soared above the River Maigue and landed right on the water’s edge, deep in the reeds.

Three off the tee, with an optimistic ‘provisional’ called… after a few other choice words. We walked up the smooth, silken fairways that lie like carpet across Adare’s golfing landscape. All four of us looked at the reeds, shrugged and jumped in.

A Big Week for Irish Golf Venues

Two bits of great news came out this week for Irish golf... one very much focused on the golf course: the other not so much.

But either way, it keeps Ireland and Irish golf in the spotlight... for all the right reasons!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ireland's Top 50 Parklands - Vote Now

Bunclody's 18th
A while back, Golfing Weekly ran a survey for Ireland's Top 50 Links Courses. Now they're doing the same with our Parklands. They've revised the survey format somewhat as there were a few niggles with the previous selection process, so this one should be easier to manage.

Go on, before you start, list off your top five parklands.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tralee Golf Club (Golf Digest Ireland Event)

Lone golfer heads down the 1st, the sun setting
behind the Slieve Mish Mountains.
Four and a half hours to drive from Wexford to Tralee Golf Club - not forgetting the 15 minutes to get lost in Tralee town - and you have 285 minutes of sitting on your butt in a car. I'm surprised there was any feeling left in my legs when I stepped onto the tarmac of the golf club, on the Co Kerry coastline above Barrow Bay...

... but never have 285 minutes been so worth it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Two Irish Golf Links: Two Offers: Two Different Wallets

The beach at Portnoo (golf course on the dunes behind)
Two great Irish links courses are promoting two very different 'offers' at the moment. One is for locals and Irish; the other has a more international feel although it's by no means exclusive.

Which two courses? Two of my favourites:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ireland's Best 18 Holes... That You've Never Heard Of

Approach to the 1st green at Claremorris
With 350 golf courses spread around Ireland, there are a lot of very good holes to uncover and play. Many of the most famous are on our world-class courses - such as Druid's Glen, Waterville, Ballybunion, Old Head and Royal County Down. And there are plenty of other well known courses boasting great holes, too... but what about the courses that most people have never heard of, let alone played.

Here are 18 holes (in a standard par 72 format) that are definitely worth the detour (and the green fee). How many have you played?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ireland's Top Golf Resorts

A while back I wrote a piece for A Luxury Travel Blog on The Top 5 Luxury Golf Resorts in Ireland.

This month, Golf Monthly magazine brought out their list of Top 50 UK and Ireland Stay and Play Resorts, which included 12 Irish venues.

The question was - how did my top 5 stack up against theirs?

'Winning' Over New Golfers

Given the difficulties golf clubs face in retaining existing club members - never mind recruiting new ones - the general overview of a recent survey makes for positive... and interesting reading.

True, it's a British survey, but our markets are so close that it makes no difference.

Link to the survey on the Golfshake website.

Some outcomes will be familiar, others might not be. Either way, it's food for thought.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Carne Links at Giveaway Prices

Yes, I know that sounds like a cheap commercial, but seriously... Carne folklore is growing by the day.

Never mind building a new nine holes (the Kilmore Nine, review here) for €200,000, the golf club is now offering fourballs next year for €100 for 18 holes (or €140 for the full 27). €25 for one of the most thrilling courses you could ever hope to play...

The par three 7th on the Kilmore 9.
A brute of a hole that measures 200 yards
The club is offering 100 slots between April and October 2014, and you have to book online. The email I received goes like this:

If you are planning to play Carne Golf Links during 2014, why not take this fantastic opportunity to book now at rock bottom rates.

To celebrate the opening of our spectacular new Kilmore 9 holes, we are offering 100 slots (available now, online only) from April to October 2014:
o   €100 for a 4 ball 18 holes. Savings €140
(Choice of Hackett 18 OR Kilmore 9 & Hackett back 9)
o   €140 for a 4 ball 27 holes. Savings €160
(Hackett 18 & Kilmore 9)
(See available slots at approx 9am on most week days)
 This offer will end on 14th October 2013.
Book now!
Click below:

The 8th on the Kilmore 9. One hell of a shot in

It's worth noting that closing day of the 14th October. If you're in America, I'm guessing this offer is impractical, but for anyone in Ireland or the UK, this could easily go down as 'too good to miss'. I'd plan a week's golf around that, no bother, and play at Carne three times at least... I learn so much every time I play it and Irish golf doesn't get any bigger than this.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beech Park - Free Golf Taster

A golf club hosting a 'Free' Open Day to attract new members is not something you encounter very often, but Beech Park Golf Club has decided to open up its course this coming Friday (Oct 4th) in a bid to attract new members to the club.

Established in 1983, this is a member's club and it's a tree-lined peach - it is in Dublin too (Rathcoole), making it easily accessible off the N7, just 10 minutes from Newlands Cross.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ireland's Top 50 Links Courses... Voted For By You

Back in August, Golfing Magazine posted a survey online asking people to rank Ireland's top 50 links golf courses. Now the results are in. You'll find them in the latest edition of the magazine and online.

Since this blog is all about Irish golf I assessed the rankings with great interest. My conclusion is this:


Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Curious Incident of the Putter in the Green

There is a golfing story from my teenage years of which I am greatly embarrassed.

You can look back and say… well, it was teenage angst… these things happen… it was a learning experience… but that doesn’t discount the appalling behaviour that took place.

If you are a Grange Golf Club member, please look away now.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Taking A Winter Break (here and abroad)

It is getting to that time of year when people start thinking about the drift into Autumn and the cold to follow. Having a holiday or even a short break to look forward to can give winter a deserving cold shoulder. If you’re trying to figure out where you can go and what you can do, here are a few thoughts:
The Entrance to Martinhal
  • Enjoy Luxury in the Sun
  • Golf in the Sun
  • Golf on the Irish Links
  • Northern Lights
  • Lazing at Liss Ard

Warning: Readers are advised that this article contains non-golf-related copy from the very start.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Free Membership - Ballesteros Course at The Heritage

You'll need to go onto Twitter for this offer (link below)... but it'll be worth it!

The 18th, with water along the left, all the way to the green

The Heritage, in Co Laois, is giving away a year's free membership. The offer/draw kicked off tonight and will run for a bit (3 to 4 weeks), but it is only available on Twitter.

This is the proud home of the Seve Ballesteros course (and Academy) - the only one in Ireland. It's a big, expansive course, laid out on the top of the Laois landscape. It is best known for its lake which separates the 9th and 18th holes. Terror territory, that's for sure.

The 8th hole, green to tee, showing off the Laois landscape
How do you enter... you need to Retweet and Follow. Here's their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/TheHeritageGC

Good luck.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Volunteers required to play Adare - 12/10/13

Inside The Ropes – October, Saturday 12th, 2013

I’m looking for three volunteers to join me at Adare for a 9.00am tee time on the above date. As long as you haven’t played the course before, can swing a club and you enjoy the game, you’re welcome to throw your name in the hat. All you need to know is that you must force yourself to spend time in the very comfortable bar afterwards, filling in a two page questionnaire. You will also get to play one of the most stunning back nines in the country.

The 18th... what more needs to be said
To enter, please enter a Comment below.

‘Entry deadline’ is Monday 30th Sept at 2pm. Please check back then when the 'winners' will be announced. And please include your email when adding a Comment. I won’t publish your details but I can contact you if you’re picked. Alternatively, you can enter through Boards.ie

[The winners have now been picked (30/9/13 18.00) - Paddy 1234 (Boards), Webbs (Boards) and Gentle Soul (Blog). Thanks for the interest]

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Young Irish Golf Courses Evolving

The growth of Irish golf courses exploded between 1990 and 2008. The total number of courses on the island increased by 50% in that period... and only a handful of those were in Northern Ireland. Some of those courses have closed; some have been reborn. Many have struggled; a few have thrived.

The Castlemartyr clubhouse being built in 2008 and
how the wood has 'weathered' today.
Here are some photos showing how four of our courses looked in their early days and how they look today.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fota Island: A Return Trip, A New Nine

View from 1st green to 4th green on Deer Park
Cork is Ireland’s largest county by size and one of its most beautiful. It also has over 25 golf courses. In other words, it does pretty well for itself. The Rebel County may not be too happy at the moment, having failed to beat Clare in the All Ireland Hurling Final (the replay is 2 Sundays away), but a quick visit to one of their golf courses should cheer up the natives.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Golf Cliches and How to Avoid Them

Golf has more cliches than you can shake a stick at. Some are naff, some are incredibly naff. Here are my top eight.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The New Book - Driving The Green

The manuscript has been sent, the deal has been struck and the contract has been signed. Come next Spring, my golfing travels will appear in a book entitled Driving The Green. It tells the story of the ups, downs and, more aptly, the side-to-sides of travelling around Ireland in a camper van. It takes a light-hearted view of Irish life, golf and golfers, and mixes it with history, Ireland's beauty, a suicidal old lady and a couple of Born Again Christians. Here's an extract, from a trip to Cork:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ireland’s Golfing Challenges – Dunmore East Classic

It’s that time of year when Ireland’s Golf Challenges and Classics start being launched for 2014. There are still some to be played in 2013, and the Carlow International Golf Classic starts today (9/9/13), but this is such a popular and great value way to play Ireland’s golf courses that getting the message out early makes all the difference. I genuinely believe that you have to try these Challenges at least once, simply to understand what’s involved and how much fun they are. There are over a dozen to choose from and the courses themselves are some of the very best that we’ve got.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

30 Shades of Green - an Irish Golfing Odyssey by Wesley Boudreaux

He arrived today, at Dublin Airport, with an ambitious - some might say crazy - goal in mind. To play Ireland's Top 30 golf courses over the next three weeks. Wesley Boudreaux isn't stopping there, though, as he's playing plenty of other courses while he's here. In total he will play 42 rounds of golf in 22 days, enjoying the best courses that Irish golf has to offer.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Golfer's Bucket List - Carne

It wasn’t long ago that I was extolling the virtues, the beauty and the brilliance of Carne… and not just me – the other journalists who were at the opening of the new Kilmore nine holes have been busy doing the same (check out the links on Carne’s Facebook page).

I never tire of talking about and promoting this piece of heaven. It is a beast. It is as raw as it is riveting, and as unforgettable as it is unpretentious. It is special in so many ways, and its location in the distant lands of north west Ireland simply adds to its charm and mysticism.