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.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Irish Open Weeks - Part 3

Part three of Irish Open Weeks, covering:

  • Gort and Loughrea golf clubs in Galway
  • Killeen Castle in Meath

Killeen Castle

Not much needs to be said about the Jack Nicklaus course. Big, spacious, elegant, flowing. There's a good range of events on with green fees between €35 and €45.

View over the 1st green back to Killeen Castle

Open Week 

 11th - 17th August 2014

Monday August 11th - Mens Senior Open (50+) - White Tees - €35 per person
Tuesday August 12th - Ladies 3 person team - Red Tees - €35 per person
Thursday August 14th - Mens 4 Ball Betterball - White Tees - €40 per person
Friday August 15th - Mens Single Stableford - 3 ball - White Tees - €45 per person
Sunday August 17th - Open 4 Person Team - White Tees - €40 per person

  To book contact reservations on 01 6893000


Loughrea Golf Club's Open Week is already in full swing... so if you fancy golf over the Bank Holiday, a trip to Galway might be on the cards (Galway Bay are also running their Open Fortnight if you fancy two rounds close together).

Events are all Stableford Singles and the green fee is €15. Contact 091 841 049 for a tee time.


As for Killeen Castle, you have a bit more time to organise yourselves, as the Open Week runs from the 9th to the 17th August. This is Christy O'Connor designed, which suits his style as the landscape tosses and turns so much. A good and under-appreciated course.

Green fees are €15 for visitors. Contact details are on the poster above.

The 10th hole at Gort. Spectacular drive, spectacular views.

Thanks to Conor for filling me in on the Gort Open Week.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Great Golfing Read - Golf World & Carne

Views over the Kilmore nine 6th green
The new issue of Golf World is out (September), with Adam Scott winding it up on the front cover.

My first major golf article appears towards the back - a six page spread on my beloved Carne. It was an honour and a pleasure to write it - thanks to Golf World for giving me the opportunity... and thanks to Carne for giving me the inspiration.

So, what else is inside...