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: