Monday, February 24, 2014

Ireland's Best Hidden Golfing Gems

Views over Strandhill's 5th fairway
The list of Ireland’s Fairways Less TravelledThe Hidden GemsThe JewelsThe Unsung Heroes… whatever you want to call them... is now complete.

So here is the final list of Ireland’s 20 best golf courses that rarely get the credit or coverage they deserve.

I’m sure that you have plenty of hidden Irish gems that you’d like to add… please feel free to do so in the Comments section.

I would like to thank everyone who entered the draws, and I would especially like to thank the golf clubs who donated free fourballs for this blog to give away. Eighteen of the 20 clubs donated. Many thanks for your generosity.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ireland's Top Ten Hidden Golf Courses (Links) - No. 1

Narin and Portnoo Irish Golf Kevin Markham
The approach to the 9th green
Stop for a minute and ask yourself something… if you could wish yourself away, right now, and stand on any hole on any Irish golf course, where would it be?

Royal County Down? Ballybunion? Mount Juliet? Druid’s Glen?

I would walk up onto the top of the dune beside the 8th tee at this beautiful Donegal course. There I would have a 360 degree view of everything that makes Ireland so special. Mountains, sea, islands, sand, rolling waves… and five of my favourite holes in the world.

Here is my top ranked hidden links course in Ireland. You can Win a Fourball to this club at the end of the blog.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Irish Open Heading for Royal County Down

How many players can you name?
It's everywhere in the media... the word is that Royal County Down is set to host the Irish Open in 2015.

The last major tournament held at this iconic links was The Walker Cup in 2007, won by the USA. Here's a photo taken from the website.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Storms Give Irish Golf A Battering

Adare team lost on the course
The storms of last week have been brutal on Irish golf courses. A few minutes trawling Boards, Facebook and Twitter reveals a litany of disasters that will blight our golf courses for years if not decades to come. Many of the trees were hundreds of years old.

Most striking are the 300 trees up-ended at Limerick Golf Club and over 350 toppled at both Dundrum and Kilkenny golf clubs – many were signature trees on the clubs' densely tree-lined fairways. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Green Fee Winner For Ireland's 1st Ranked Hidden Parkland - Rathcore

Edward O'Keeffe wins the fourball for Rathcore.

Beware that third hole Edward... and let us know how you get on. If there's no one in front of you, take a second ball and aim a drive over the gorse, just for a laugh. Then figure out how offline you were!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Is Doonbeg Coming Up Trumps?

View from the 9th green back to The Lodge.

There is only one thing that interests me in the whole media mêlée surrounding Donald Trump’s purchase of Doonbeg…

Is it good for Irish golf?

It’s good for Trump, no question. An estimated €15 million purchase must be the bargain of the year compared with the €110 million he spent constructing just the Scottish course in Aberdeen.

Everyone is falling over themselves to say how wonderful it is to have Trump saving Doonbeg, saving/creating jobs, investing millions, creating a world class resort, instigating world peace and saving mankind. Trump is saying pretty much the same thing: he’s not shy… or modest. But then you don’t get to be as powerful and rich as him without stepping on toes and charging around like a bull in a china shop.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ireland's Top Ten Hidden Golf Courses (Parkland) - No. 1

The par three 11th
Perhaps the hardest part of creating this list was deciding what comprised a ‘hidden gem’... a Fairway Less Travelled

Can Carne still be called hidden? Can Concra Wood or Bunclody or even Headfort? Both Connemara and Dooks don’t make the mainstream, but does that qualify them for this list? What about Carlow? It is one of our greatest parkland classics but it seems to have been forgotten in the melee of glamorous newer courses.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Night With Karl Morris

Many years ago, my mother decided that dad and I should attend a golf psychology seminar being held in UCD. Dad and I laughed. ‘We don’t need that’ we said in unison.

Dad, when it was all going so well (at Royal County Down)
Clearly we were wrong. I have a – how shall I put this – fragile temperament and my dad, off 18, just loses his swing sometimes. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the Greystones GC Father & Son. This is a Scotch Foursomes event (both players drive and you then play alternate shots from the preferred drive) and has become extremely popular in the club. Most of the dads we play against are my age, which shows the strength of the junior game at Greystones... and juniors tend to have no fear. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Green Fee Winner For Ireland's 2nd Ranked Hidden Parkland - Scrabo

Adrian Hanna has got himself a fourball for Scrabo Golf Club. This course, like many links, needs to be played a second time to appreciate what lies ahead. There are some blind shots (5, 16 and 18 in particular) but the terrain is so unpredictable that simply walking over it will help you the second time around.

And if you're making the journey up - and depending on where you're coming from - the courses to consider en route are Seapoint, Concra Wood and Spa (from the south), and Lisburn, Belvoir Park and Malone (from the west). Once in the area, I recommend Clandeboye (both courses) and Blackwood (where John Richardson played all his golf for his 'Dream On' book). And then there's Ardglass and Royal County Down.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Would You Marry a Farmer? A Book Review

Where golf and farming collide

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing a review of a book about farming. I could find a few tenuous links (cow pats on fairways, farming land turned into golf courses, hitting sheep with errant golf balls) but it’s for two reasons: first is the author, Lorna Sixsmith, who raised the funds to publish this book herself; second is the many summers I spent as a child on my godmother’s farm in the rolling Wicklow hills. I have fond memories of the milking, the tractor rides and the hay-stacked barn… but of the bull, not so much.

 I have met Lorna on a couple of occasions and admire her motivation (see below).

And besides, it has given me an idea for a new book: Would You Marry a Golfer?