Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Destination Golf Issue 24 - IAGTO Awards, Portugal, Mission Hills, Cambodia and Jamaica

Destination Golf (DG) has had a busy and booming time of late. Issue 24 sees the end of DG's second year, during which it has attracted audiences from around the world.

This month's issue includes Nicole Kidman, Morgan Freeman, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans... and our own Dermot Synott - all in attendance at the star-studded Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am. Loads of photos and the golf looks fairly tasty, too.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Donald Trump vs. Golf Digest

If you haven't picked up your copy of Golf Digest (Ireland) this month, then you might want to consider it for two reasons:

1. Ireland's Top 100 courses are ranked.

2. Donald Trump gives an interview... and it is hilarious.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

National Club Golfer Top 100 GB&I Links Courses

Views over Narin & Portnoo... a course that didn't
make the Top 100
National Club Golfer magazine (a UK publication) has put together a list of the top 100 links courses in the GB&I. Such rankings are always worth a look and especially in the wake of Golf Digest Ireland’s Top 100. Now, one of the most interesting things from an Irish perspective is how a GB magazine has the necessary resources to assess Republic of Ireland courses. 

In the introduction the magazine does spell out how it operated and how it put together its panel of experts... and some serious experts they are - but no Irish golfer/contributor is on the panel. So it raises eyebrows (mine anyway) when Irish courses get so neatly clumped together (38, 39 and 40, and 76, 77 and 78). Given that a third of the world's links are on our shores, shouldn't that be reflected on the panel?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mystery Golf Course Winner... Roe Park Resort

Stephen Lalor, in Dublin, picks up the four ball for Roe Park Resort. Hope that puts a smile on your face for Christmas! This will be your opening tee shot:

For a brief review and some photos of the resort, click here (blog went up earlier this morning). The full set of Roe Park photos is here.

Green fees range from £
20-£30, but be sure to ask about special deals.

Roe Park Resort – The Causeway Coast’s Base Camp

roe park golf
The short par four 14th
“Have you stayed with us before?” the receptionist at the four star Roe Park Resort asked with a friendly smile.

“I have,” I replied. “I slept very well in your car park.”

The smile slipped.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Not Playing Golf! Get On Yer Bike

If you EVER see me in lycra... shoot me!

No, I'm not off my rocker. A new survey in the UK suggests that golfers are putting their clubs into retirement, slipping into something deeply unsightly and taking to the roads on two wheels. My backside is sore just thinking about a saddle.

Here's an extract: 'A 2013 study by Sports Marketing Surveyswhich has been examining golfers' habits for 17 years, showed that 20% of golfers who packed up the game in the past six to 24 months - whose reason was to take up a new activity or sport - did so to take up cycling.'

Is it happening in Ireland? Who knows, and despite falling golfing numbers I don't see the GUI drumming up the interest to conduct such research... but read this BBC article and it does raise some valid points regarding golf. It even mentions a few clever ideas to boost membership. You'll be glad to hear that those ideas do not involve bicycles... or lycra.

But if you are one of those thinking about forsaking our beautiful game to become a MAMIL, let me give you my address as I could do with those ProV1s in your bag... and the Taylormade driver... and the Scotty Cameron.

Or, perhaps, we could just combine the two... live in mutual harmony... and leave the lycra at home.

Courtesy of Kierland Golf Club

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top Ten Photos of Irish Golf Courses (2015)

The Island clubhouse over the 18th green.
I've taken some 4,000 photographs of Irish golf courses this year. Mad, really, when I could have been spending all that time golfing. Still, golf photography has its own rewards and taking a shot that shows off a course/hole in all its glory is incredibly satisfying.

Here are my ten favourite shots from this year, in alphabetical order. If you click on the name of the club, it will link you through to a full set of photos on Flickr.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 (2015)

View of Galgorm Castle's 3rd green.
The Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 Rankings are done and dusted for 2015. If you're after the 2016 ranking (and the many issues involved), click this link.

I've added the rankings from the last 3 and 4 years to show the major shifts! The top 10 have moved marginally in those years, but all have remained in the elite top 10.

County Sligo, Ballyliffin (Glashedy) and The Island are banging on the door, but for the past four years they haven't managed to break through. Adare remains the only parkland to make that elite Top 10.

On The Way Up
Those showing meteoric rises over the past five years include:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Golfing Offers from Around the Country

The par 3 3rd at Newcastle West
Some are specifically about playing golf... others are to do with gift ideas. See if any of these float your boat?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Win a four ball to a 'Mystery' Irish Golf Club

Photo 1: the Pro Shop
The first three 'guess the mystery Irish golf course' blogs have shown that your competitive streak is alive and well.

I have another four ball to give away so here's what you need to do to get yourself a nice freebie ahead of Christmas... who knows, maybe you'll be palming this off as the perfect Christmas present for the golfer in your life.

Three clues... three photographs. Then guess the course by leaving a Comment using the Comment box below.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Irish Open... A Christmas Opportunity (£25) for Royal County Down

The par three 10th, with the 11th beyond
In 2015, the Irish Open will be played at one of the greatest golf courses in the world. This is no overstatement, exaggeration or embellishment. Royal County Down is a remarkable course that is revered worldwide. It vibrates with brilliance and perfectly reflects its glorious setting at the foot of the Mourne Mountains on Dundrum Bay.

Next May, between the 28th and 31st, many of the world’s best golfers will vie for the Irish Open title. As a spectacle it will be, well, spectacular. Rory will be centre stage, but with Ricky Fowler also confirmed, there may be a rush of big American names who will see it as an opportunity to play not only such a famous course but also to start their preparation for the Open Championship at St. Andrew’s.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Who Wants to Play Rory McIlroy? No, Seriously

The only thing is, it's not playing golf with Rory McIlroy. It's for an advertisement to play Rory at three stages of his life. 

Louise Kiely, of Louise Kiely Casting, in Dublin has been asked to cast an exciting new TV commercial starring Rory McIlroy. It will shoot in early January 2015 but casting for these three roles is next week. It is a fully paid job for the boys chosen.

She is looking for three boys to play the younger versions of Rory:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Larry and me... Photographs of The Island

The Island's clubhouse and 18th green
Not for one second am I about to compare my photography skills with the revered Larry Lambrecht, but this is still a funny coincidence.

I played The Island, yesterday, thanks to an invitation from Kevin Connolly, who organises the North West Open. It fell in with a requirement for a Golf World article I'm working on as I needed a photograph of The Island's clubhouse. After the golf, and just as the sun began to dip along the horizon, I grabbed the camera and took a few shots of the building across the 18th green.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Do You Yell 'Fore' in Cricket?

Phillip Hughes was buried today. He was 25. I won't repeat the story of how he died - if you don't know then you've been living under a rock.

If you play a sport that involves a hard ball being thrown or hit very hard, then there are inherent risks. If that ball is coming straight at you, then consider those risks multiplied.

In cricket, bowlers can reach speeds of close to 100mph*. In golf, the ball can reach speeds over 170mph.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ballyneety - 'Phoenix' Golf Club of the Year

The 2nd hole - a par three (taken 2008)
 A couple of months back I posted two photos of Ballyneety Golf Club. They were before and after shots, showing how the club had looked in its prime (when it was called Limerick County GC), and how it looked last year. The difference was startling: the immaculate fairways of 2010 had given way to three foot high grass and weeds in 2013. Bunkers were invisible, ponds besieged and fairway definition a distant memory. Photos are here

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Heritage Plans Ahead

As winter crawls into view, the weather keeping some of the unfriendlier temperatures at bay, golfers begin to reconsider their golfing priorities. Some reach for the woollen jumpers, the bobble hats and hand warmers; others reach for the remote having allowed their clubs to slip quietly into hibernation.

Golf clubs around the country know that their green fee income will be dropping drastically in the coming months. And, to be fair, courses prone to frost and heavy downpours could do with a lighter footfall - to protect the course and to allow the greenskeepers to get out and implement maintenance programmes.

But clubs still run particular events and competitions to keep things ticking over, and they start promoting rates and packages for next year as well. One such club is the Ballesteros course at The Heritage.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Golf Monthly Top 100 GB&I Courses

Another golf course rankings hit the shelves with Golf Monthly’s 2015 Top 100 list. The magazine proudly claims that it is a list produced by golfers for golfers. Fair enough – you can’t say simpler than that.

From an Irish perspective there are a couple of interesting things to note: 21 courses from this island make the cut. The rankings are as follows:

Monday, November 24, 2014

County Sligo Golf Club Gets a Face Lift

The par four 10th - sea and Benbulbin slipping alongside
Do you dare play with perfection?

Do you take a beautiful woman and inject some botox? Do you take the Mona Lisa and add a fresh lick of paint?

And, if so, then the question is 'why?'

County Sligo is one of the finest links courses in Ireland... perhaps anywhere... but now change is afoot.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Is a Hole in One Worth It?

The simple answer from the glory point of view is a definite 'yes'... but from a financial perspective it's less clear cut. Here's why:

A friend of mine got a hole in one (his first) a few weeks ago... he got a pat on the back and twice what he would have received if he'd scored a two. That's the way it works in our club. The trouble is, the twos pot rarely delivers more than €10 per two and, on this occasion, my friend earned himself €18, i.e. two X €9... for a hole in one!

Yesterday, that same friend got a two... for which he received €23.

A hole in one deserves something extra... say half the twos pot... or a special presentation... just something to reward a singularly brilliant shot*.

And let's not forget all the drinks you have to buy with that hole in one... even if you have the insurance.

* Assuming it's a brilliant shot and not some brute of a thing.   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

World Golf Awards - The Irish Winners

The K Club hotel (from the Smurfit Course)
Irish golf was always going to be rewarded at the inaugural World Golf Awards, held in the Algarve this week.

The two big winners were Waterville – awarded the title of country’s best golf course for 2014 – and the K Club, which received the award for Ireland best golf hotel. In Northern Ireland, Royal County Down received the best course, while Lough Erne collected the best golf hotel award.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ireland's Best 18 Holes on the Wild Atlantic Way

The inspiring 16th tee shot on Ballybunion (Cashen)
Everyone has their opinions. What a dull place it would be if we didn’t.

Failte Ireland, in its guise as The Wild Atlantic Way, has produced a list of the top 18 golf holes along the 2,500 km route that stretches from Cork to Donegal. The list was produced for them by In The Company of Huskies, a Dublin digital agency.

The Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s new holy grail of tourism, showing off the beauty of Ireland. You’d think the goal would be to pick 18 holes that show off the beauty of the golf courses’ surroundings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Paul McGinley - Christmas Lunch at the Mansion House

Perhaps this will pique your interest if you're wondering how best to treat some clients in the run up to Christmas. It will also appeal to regular golfers, who fancy the opportunity of meeting the Ryder Cup Captain and all Ireland hero, but the price may be somewhat off-putting. No, I think it's fair to say that this is a bit of a back-slapping 'thanks-for-all-your-business-this-year' kind of do. And, around Christmas time, that might be the perfect way to cement your business relationship for 2015.

On December 5th, a Christmas Lunch will be held at Dublin's Mansion House (on Dawson Street), with Paul McGinley in attendance. There will be a four course gourmet lunch, wine and an interactive Q&A with the man himself.

The price for a table of 10 is €1,750 (excl. VAT), but you can buy individual tickets if you don't have that many clients, you don't have that many clients you actually like, or you feel like being stingy. All the information you need is on the poster above.

Contact Louise or Columba on 01 676 7200.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Golf Job Vacancy - Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI)

Irish golf job positions don't come along that often - certainly not at the moment - so here are some seriously interesting ones from the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI). The CGI was created by the GUI, ILGU and the PGA to help advance the sport of golf in Ireland, and today they're looking for at least two Business Development Officers.


Here's a quick overview - straight from the CGI website:
Overview of Role
The successful job holder will provide dedicated business support to Golf Clubs throughout the Island of Ireland which will cover the following support areas: club strategy and business plans, financial, compliance, marketing, club membership, training, health & safety. The job holder will have a good understanding of business issues and be seen by others as having a deep level of commercial acumen. It is expected that the job holder will be solutions oriented, provide sound strategic advice to clubs and be able to determine what a golf club should do now to bring about a more profitable and successful future.
Closing date is Friday November 21st @ 5pm

Saturday, November 8, 2014

‘Festival of Golf’ at the Ballsbridge Hotel. A Recap.

Approach to the 1st on Carne's Kilmore nine
 Two interesting things happened during the ‘Festival of Golf’ at the Ballsbridge Hotel, on Tuesday night. There were two holes-in-one on the famous 17th at Sawgrass, and I encountered a woman whose claim to fame was that Padraig Harrington had slept in her bed. I also learned that – quite possibly – the apple pie for which Mrs Ruddy of The European Golf Club is renowned, might… just might… be improved through the inclusion of cheddar cheese.

It was an entertaining evening, for sure.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Festival of Golf Night... Tonight... & Killeen Castle Winner

The dogleg par four 3rd
In case you'd forgotten - the Dublin Festival of Golf Night is on tonight, 5pm-9pm, at the Ballsbridge Hotel. For full details, here's the earlier blog.

I was giving away a four ball worth €300 to Killeen Castle to someone who correctly guessed that there are 7 'castle' named Irish golf courses attending the event. The winner was Gary Hayes. Gary, here are a couple of pics to whet the appetite.

A view back up the 1st to the Castle
The par three 16th... all carry

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Royal County Down's New Holes

Royal County Down
Views over Royal County Down, the new Annesley links
9th green at the foot of the dune. 
Given the state of the country today, there are not many Irish golf courses investing in new holes.

Carne completed the Kilmore nine last year – for the remarkable cost of just €200,000. Rossmore added two new holes and a reworked routing. Roe Park, outside Limavady, has added three new holes – although ultimately, these will be for practice purposes. Rathfarnham is busy revamping three of its existing 15 holes, while also building three new holes to bring it from a 15 to an 18 hole course. South Meath has added nine new holes, as has Mountbellew, but both of these courses are on a lower tier to the ones mentioned above and the ‘attention to detail’ is not so precise.

That cannot be said of Royal County Down (RCD). 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Is the Ryder Cup About to Die?

Is the Ryder Cup dying?

It's a bit late for a rant against golf's biggest team event, I know, but this has been simmering for a couple of weeks.

And no, it has nothing to do with European domination and an American public who are losing interest in watching their team lose.

No, this is more serious. Remember the uproar when Tiger (and others) started suggesting that they should be paid for playing in the Ryder Cup? Outrage followed.

"You should feel privileged to represent your country... blah, blah, blah," was the basic premise that saw Tiger slink away with his tail between his legs.

But right now, today, I can see exactly why those Professionals might feel inclined to raise the issue again. It's the commercialisation of the event that completely excludes the players themselves. The figures for retail sales during Ryder Cup week were astounding... and is it any surprise when you had to pay £85 for a simple beanie hat. What was special about it... other than the Ryder Cup logo... absolutely nothing. (And if you think that's the worst of it, check out the official Ryder Cup Store here.) Then there are the ticket sales and the peripherals of food and drink. It adds up, and it adds up bloody fast. We're talking millions, here.

I know that the event has to make money (although it didn't achieve that until the mid-1980s), but it is   losing the run of itself. It has become a money-making machine and while 'greed is good' may be the driving force of any such global, commercial event, if the main protagonists are not going to be paid then discontent will surely fester. And, if such blatant profiteering continues, it won't just be the players who lose respect for the event, it will be the paying public too. £85 for a beanie... how totally, utterly insane.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ireland's Best 10th Hole (Parkland)?

Anyone out there played both of these two glorious Irish golf holes?

Rathsallagh and Headfort (New).

If you have, which one do you prefer... and why?

Maybe you haven't played both of them - or either of them - but you've probably heard about the holes. Or maybe you have another suggestion. All thoughts (use the 'Comment' feature below) appreciated as I'm putting together my Top 18 Parkland Holes in Ireland... and the 10th hole is proving tricky.

Here's a photo of each:
Rathsallagh - a par four and a difficult one at that, with water crossing the
fairway and then running along the right hand side to the green.

Headfort (New) - a par four with a big carry over water before the hole
whips right, around the trees.
Those pics will, hopefully, give you an idea of what the holes promise.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pick Your Top 50 Ireland Links Golf Courses - €10,000 in prizes

The 17th at Carne - a stunning omission from
the top 15 last year
Ireland's Golfing Weekly Magazine have already gathered up the top 50 parkland votes and now is your chance to vote on our island's top 50 links (and seaside) courses.

Given that there are far fewer of these, the task should be simpler. Then again, the top links are pricier. If you've played all of them, then consider yourself extremely lucky; if you haven't, set yourself a target and try to play a couple over the winter months. Links golf in winter... there's nothing quite like it!

Remember, you don't need to have played 50 courses to vote.

And if you add your rankings to the survey, then you're in with a shot of winning some ten grand's worth of prizes (see below).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

IGTOA Awards 2014 - Who Won What

The annual IGTOA Awards were held at Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, Co.Mayo, only a couple of nights ago. The annual celebration is for all that is good and great about Irish golf in the eyes of the Ireland Golf Tour Operator Association. Here are their awards for this year - which include a couple of personal favourites: 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Festival of Golf, 4th November, Dublin... Win a Fourball

Views down the 18th at Co. Cavan GC
On Tuesday, November 4th, the Ballsbridge Hotel hosts the third Dublin Golf Night, now known as the ‘Festival of Golf’, organised by Failte Ireland. There will be 58 golf courses (see list below) represented, showing off their courses, promoting green fee deals (for single golfers and society golfers alike), golf getaways, membership options and there will plenty of freebies during the event as well.

Oh, and it’s free for all visitors.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tip of the Hat... Just Treats Irish Golf Deals

Bunclody's 15th hole. Rather spectacular
Just Treats stirs up some debate as to what is and isn't good marketing for Irish golf clubs, but the offers (four excellent ones this week - see below) open up a different world of opportunity to golfers.

Whichever way you look at it, clubs need to attract green fees and raise their profile. Just Treats is one means of doing that. Such channels/deal websites give golfers the chance to sample different golf courses that they might not otherwise have been able to afford... or even heard of. If they like it, they'll recommend it to friends... and so the club benefits, hopefully, by attracting future green fees... and even members.

Here are those 4 offers:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Today's Golfer... Not Today, Thank You

The Carlow GC landscape (and 6th green)
I know only too well that there are times when you should shut your mouth and keep your opinions to yourself. Don't speak until the brain has engaged - it has always been a problem for me. But sometimes... sometimes you just have to get things off your chest.

The current issue of Today's Golfer has a five page spread on Irish golf. It's entitled Undiscovered Ireland. Now, the magazine is one of the better golfing reads so giving it some stick is regrettable... but some stick is deserved.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Mystery Golf Course Winner... Dunmurry Springs

John Langan picks up the four ball for Dunmurry Springs Golf Club.

Approach to the 3rd
 Mel Flanagan, the Irish golf course architect has designed some beauties, and Dunmurry Springs is growing into its landscape very nicely indeed. With its spectacular views and hillside location you'll tackle great holes that thrill and test.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Your Top 50 Irish Parkland Courses - €10,000 in prizes

Malone's 15th green from the 18th (last year's No. 29)
It's that time of year again! Well, it's only the 2nd time this has happened, so that might be an overstatement. Ireland's Golfing Weekly Magazine is running its '50 Top Parkland' courses survey.

This is your opportunity to pick your 50 favourite (or fewer if you don't get out much) parkland courses in the order you would rank them. Everyone else is doing the same (4,165 golfers voted last year) so take this opportunity and have your say!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Draw in the Dunes - The Ryder Cup of 1969

As the aftermath of this year’s Ryder Cup becomes confined to page after page of analysis, highlighting which Captain did what wrong/right, let’s reflect a little on the history of the Ryder Cup… it has become an increasingly bumpy ride over the years... but there remains one key moment in time that defines this event more than any other.

I’m talking about the famous concession – handed by Jack Nicklaus to Tony Jacklin in 1969. It was a defining moment in sportsmanship and it is one that still resonates.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Guess The Mystery Irish Golf Course - Win a Four Ball

Heading up to the 6th green and those views
I have three four balls to give away to Irish golf courses in the coming weeks - so pay attention.

Each comes with three hints and three photographs. All you have to do is guess which course it is and leave me a Comment below.

The clues for today's 'Guess The Mystery Golf Course' go like this:

1. It was designed by Irish designer, Mel Flanagan.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ballyneety GC - The Tale of Two Years

The 1st hole as it was in July 2012... and then in July 2013.
Last year, Ballyneety Golf Club rose from the ashes of Limerick County Golf Club. The latter had closed in 2010, the course left to the vagaries of nature. In 2012, the course was bought by three men and the resurrection began. The name changed but that was, by far, the easiest step they had to take. Getting the course back to its former glory was a monumental task.

Monday, September 22, 2014

One For The Ladies

Well, now I'm a pervert, it seems.

I have been taking photographs of various golf courses around the country in recent months... and I was reported to the General Manager of one club by a lady golfer who decided that I was sneaking some photos of her. I mean her swing was good... but not that good!

I was standing in full sight, behind a green, with a camera on a tripod. I was focusing down the fairway as two golfers approached. The light was good... and getting better... and I was setting up to take the shot. I barely noticed that the two golfers were women. I waited for them to finish out the hole - I didn't want them in the shot - and as they left the green I returned to the camera to compose the shot.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Druid's Glen Special Autumn/Winter Offer

The Par 3 8th
No need to make a song and dance about the Druid's Glen golf course... it knocks the stuffing out of most other 'big name' parkland courses in Ireland... in my opinion.

Druid's Glen Resort has launched a special golfing offer for the coming months. The Resort, with its two championship golf courses, is offering a special ‘Stay and Play’ deal starting from €150 per person sharing.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Knightsbrook - €44 for Golf and Buggy for Two (Just Treats)

The par three 5th
As part of my current Irish 'tour' I visited the Knightsbrook Golf Resort, in Trim. Co. Meath, during the week. I hadn't played the course since 2008, so I wanted to see how such a big course had evolved in the last six years. At just over 30 minutes from Dublin, it's an easy journey and the course is open to visitors on weekends - which is always a bonus for free-spirited golfers looking for that weekend game.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Golfing Orange - Review of Champ C8 and C1 Grips

C8 Grips
This is a golf product review. In the interests of transparency, I am not paid for this review or given any incentives... other than the product.

The Champ C8 grips caused a bit of amusement at the Greystones GC Pro Shop. I was teased about the colour - bright orange - when I first dropped in four clubs to be regripped. The texture of the grips generated a few comments, too.

The grips got their own back, though, confounding Barry as to how to get them on. In terms of feedback to Champ, that would be my only issue. How come they're difficult to get on? Is it a matter of using a particular technique or piece of kit?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Your Golfing Epitaph... Golf Monthly, Macreddin and a Free FourBall

In case you haven't been paying attention, this is Ryder Cup month.

The new issue of Golf Monthly magazine is dedicated to the event, including a two page article on Ireland's Macreddin Golf Club, the only golf course in the British Isles to be designed by Paul McGinley.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Your Golf Club Hasn't An Effing Clue

You want to know what really hacks golfers off?

Crap service... and that's just for starters. I apologise for the use of bad language in this blog, but I've had it up to here! Clubs need to get their act, their attitude and their priorities straight. You're running a business, in difficult times, so make sure that you know that every person who walks through that door is a customer.

Here are three guaranteed ways to annoy golfers and damage your reputation:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Northern Irish Open at Galgorm Castle

Edfors teeing off on the 1st hole.
It's a long drive from Wexford to Ballymena... but probably not as long as a Johan Edfors drive. That boy can hit the ball, and he is playing in the Northern Irish Open at Galgorm Castle this week. The tournament ends tomorrow, so if you're in that neck of the woods get yourself to the golf club, watch the Pros, enjoy the Food Village and all the golfing extras - there's a golf village, too.

I had been invited by Your Golf Travel to attend the event and it was an entertaining day out for sure.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Farnham Estate – Turning ‘Blu’

The excellent downhill par four 2nd.
Farnham Estate held some interesting memories. It was here in 2007 that I got stuck on the 13th hole. I don’t mean failing to escape from a bunker or walking off with a quadruple bogey… I mean stuck.

The back nine were still in the throes of construction and I had been given permission to walk them. Greens were mere pools of sand, bunkers no more than holes in the earth, fairways nothing but mud… and it was into the mud that I sank. It took a while to extricate myself, and a little longer to retrieve my golf shoe that had been sucked off my foot. It was a soggy walk for the final five holes.

Golf Irony... Mount Ober

When Hooked first appeared in bookshops in 2009, it came with the claim that I had played every 18 hole golf course in Ireland... which wasn't strictly true!

No, there was a course in Northern Ireland, just south of Belfast, which I never got to play. Its name is Mount Ober.

Why didn't I review it?

Monday, August 25, 2014

€30 Green Fee Value - Not Your Average Joe

Define 'value'... the dictionary defines it thus:
"the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something."
Coollattin Golf Club
When it comes to golfing green fees, that definition is tough to apply... but boy don't we love to bang on about it!

'Value' means different things to different people:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mystery Golf Course Winner... North West Golf Club

Colm Burke picks up the four ball for North West Golf Club.

Not only is the club one of the oldest courses in Ireland (1891), it is also one of the four founding members of the GUI. A lot of history plays through these subtle and dynamic fairways and slick greens outside Buncrana, on the Inishowen peninsula.
The side view of the 3rd green (from 18th tee)
Donegal is the best golfing county in Ireland... with Kerry hot on its heels... so any golfer swinging this way has only one problem - which of the great courses do they choose to play first!

Challenge By The Sea - at Greystones GC

The par four 6th
Greystones Golf Club dates back to 1895. Given its age, it's a classic course with a wonderful air of maturity to it... and the name of Harry Colt hovering in the background. At the moment it is in immaculate condition and the greens are as good as any I've played on in recent years.

Perfect greens are the ultimate aim of any golf club and achieving it must delight Committees, general managers and the greenkeepers themselves... as well as visiting golfers.

And now's your chance to play this parkland beauty for yourself:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Win a four ball to a 'Mystery' Irish Golf Club - Part II

The 'mystery Irish golf club' blog a week or two back proved a big hit. So... why not run another one?

Here are three clues and three photographs to help you win a four ball to this Irish golf club:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gdansk the Great... Golf in Poland

Sand Valley Golf Club
Be honest... if I said name a European golfing destination beginning with 'P'... how many of you would guess 'Poland'?

Portugal - with its awards, its location and its weather - would be your first guess, wouldn't it! No surprise there. But Poland has so much going for it that you need to reconsider that 'P' priority.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Golf Skills Challenge

The GUI National Golf Academy is staging a qualifier for the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Golf Skills Challenge at the Academy on Wednesday 27th August, from 5pm - 9pm. This is based at Carton House.

It's free to enter and you could qualify for the National Final next month at the Academy. Full details of the Skills Challenge are available here. 

You can reserve your place by clicking on the Clinics/Rules school link here

Once you are booked in, just turn up any time from 5pm - 9pm on the day to take part.

Here's How It Works

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mystery Golf Course Winner... Macreddin

Dermot O'Donoghue is the winner of the four ball and buggies for Macreddin Golf Club. Not the toughest challenge in the world, since all you had to do was hover your mouse over one of the images and up would pop the golf club name...

Well done Dermot. I'll be in touch.

Here's what you'll be enjoying:

Approach to the 12th
To the other 60 entrants... thank you very much for taking the time. I'll have more four balls to give away in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Win a four ball at a 'Mystery' Irish Golf Club

OK, so there's not exactly a lot of mystery to this competition, but I have a four ball to give away to a great Irish gem of a golf course... and we'll throw in two buggies to help you around as well. Don't say this blog doesn't bring joy to your life!

Here are three clues:

  1. It has a very strong tie to the Ryder Cup.
  2. It is surrounded by mountains.
  3. It opened in 2008.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Golf Product Reviews: CHAMP Grips, Putter Wheel and Jim's Driver

The beautiful bronze head on Jim's Driver
It's a bit like buses... I have three golf products to review over the coming days/weeks. And all of them look good.

I've done several product reviews in the past couple of years, but these are the first for 2014.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wild Atlantic Way - Ryan Tubridy & Destination Golf

A few weeks back, the Ryan Tubridy Show did a five-day tour along the Wild Atlantic Way. They started in Strandhill, in what the show's crew affectionately call the 'chip van'. Clearly they haven't been to Gorey at 1am on a Saturday morning, because the RTE Roadcaster was a slice of 5 star luxury by comparison.

The Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) is this year's BIG Irish thing. 'The Gathering' was last year and it delivered significant increases in tourist numbers. This year those numbers are even better with a 12.3% increase in tourists between April and June. That's close to quarter of a million more tourists. The Wild Atlantic Way has been generating a lot of interest at home and abroad, and may well be one of the reasons for this growth... but not much has been made about the world class golf en route.

The 7th hole at Strandhill (car park to the left of the white building)
 Not until Destination Golf (see page 28-33) produced a July article which covered six courses along the WAW, from Donegal's Narin & Portnoo Golf Club, to the links at Connemara, in Galway. Truth is, there are some 30 golf courses on the WAW, which runs for close to 2,500km from Malin Head to Mizen Head. It would take far more than one article to do the golf courses justice.

Ryan steps out of the chip van  to take orders.
With the launch of Driving The Green, I was invited on to the Tubridy Show when it was being broadcast from Strandhill. Clearly the rationale was that my passion for golf in this neck of the woods would make me an appropriate guest. It helped that where the Roadcaster was parked was exactly 76 paces from Strandhill Golf Club's 7th green... and later that morning I was taking part in the Atlantic Coast Challenge, across Carne, Enniscrone and Rosses Point. It didn't make talking about this beautiful part of Ireland a difficult task.

Strandhill Beach, surfers waiting on the waves in the distance

If you want to listen to the interview, click here and then hit the 'Listen' button under Mr Tubridy, himself. My interview starts at 1.37:47. If you listen very closely you can even hear the sound of the waves... or maybe that's just the frying of chips.