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.

Some 60 clubs turned up for the event, which is in its third year. They were there to promote their courses and offer a variety of discounts and packages. Some were also selling memberships. If you were in the market for such things – as most of us are – then this was the place to be.  Sadly, the number of punters did not match up and it remains a mystery why golfers are not attending an evening that promotes value golf, especially for societies. Is it the wrong time of year? Is it in the wrong location? Is the word not getting out? Failte Ireland (and 'Golf Ireland' in particular) is looking at ways to improve the event's promotion.

There were 35 prizes given away on the night – mostly 4 balls and overnight stays at B&Bs/hotels local to the golf courses – plus two special prizes for the holes in one achieved on the full size golf simulator.

Here’s a taste of what was on offer (and is probably still available if you get in touch with the clubs):

Beaverstown, up by Donabate, was pushing green fee rates of €20 (midweek, winter) and a special membership package which provides 14 months for the price of 12… starting on 1 November. Full membership is €1300, % Day is €830. Tel: 01 843 6439.

The par three 3rd beside the orchard at Beaverstown
The Boyne Valley package was being promoted by Co Louth Golf Club. This is a sensational deal that combines three rounds of golf, at Co Louth, Laytown & Bettystown, and Seapoint, with 2 nights’ bed and breakfast at the City North Hotel… for €239. For more info, visit

Carne was busy promoting the Atlantic Coast Challenge (look it up on this blog – it’s the best thing to happen to golf since Sam Snead invented the sand wedge), the Wild Atlantic Way Golf Pass (Carne, Westport and Connemara golf clubs for €129), as well as stay-and-play packages in Belmullet: 1 night B&B + golf for €99 pps, or 2 nights B&B, 1 dinner and 2 rounds of golf for €189 pps. Tel: 097 82292 or email

County Cavan was promoting the Cavan Golf Pass, which, for a mere €69 (it was €89 until recently) will see you playing County Cavan, Farnham Estate and Slieve Russell golf clubs. Considering the quality of accommodation at Farnham and Slieve Russell – at a special B&B rate of €55 pp, that’s a cracking deal.
There was also a special Society deal, starting at €15pp.

Views over Co. Louth's back nine from the 5th tee
County Sligo Society Rates for 2015 start at €60, or €70 with a Golfers Grill. Tel: 071 9177 186. The course is being upgraded and it remains one of the best rounds of links golf on the island.

Dromoland Castle was one of several high profile courses/resorts in attendance. The big attraction here is that the old Clare Inn is now part of the estate. Rebranded as the Dromoland Inn it has been extensively refurbished and is now offering special stay-and-play deals  starting at €95pps which includes accommodation, full Irish breakfast, 3 course dinner and a round of golf.
Society golf packages start from €40pp.

The par three 17th at Dromoland Castle.
Dunmurry Springs are offering a four ball for the price of a two ball – based on standard green fee rates. Be sure to quote the ‘4 for 2 offer’ when booking. Tel: 045 531 400.
Society rates throughout the year are €20 weekdays and €32 at weekends.
The club is also hosting a variety of Open events over Christmas, for €20. These are on 26, 27, 28 and 31 Dec and 1, 3 and 4 January.

Farnham Estate was promoting golf group overnight packages, starting at €104.50 pps. The Radisson Blu Hotel is seriously plush (see my review) so the B&B, dinner, golf and unlimited use of the HealthSpa facilities is a very good offer. If you prefer a golf only rate for groups, fees start at €20pp. Tel: 049 437 7700.

The tight drive on the par five 18th at Fota Island
Fota Island have a 1 night B&B package, with 2 rounds of golf for €170 pps. Book before Dec 19, 2014 and this price is guaranteed for societies throughout 2015. Contact Clodagh on 021 488 3700.

Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club focused on society golf, with per person prices starting at €120 for 1 night DB&B + golf for €120, or €35 for golf only. A Special was also available of €99 pps for B&B, golf and a steak meal. Tel: 090 648 5120.

Letterkenny, a club rarely acknowledged by golfers much beyond Donegal’s borders – but a pretty place to play golf – has green fees starting at €20, with Society rates for as little as €15. Tel: 074 912 1150. There are also package deals with the local Clanree Hotel.

The dramatic drive on Nuremore's 18th hole, the clubhouse beyond.
Nuremore Hotel & Country Club, in Co Monaghan, was promoting a 1 night package of B&B, a round of golf and a four course dinner for €99pp sharing. Call 042 966 1438.

Rosapenna was showing off the recent changes made to the two courses. New bunkering and new tee boxes have enhanced the look of both courses. Check them out for yourself with the Donegal Links Classic 2015, an event that takes place over Ballyliffin, Rosapenna and Portsalon from 25-27 May 2015. For just €120. Tel Frank on 074 915 5000

Westport's 7th hole. A beauty, but the 'drama' from the sea and
Croagh Patrick arrives on the back nine. 
Westport Society rates are between €20 and €30 per green fee. They were also pushing the Wild Atlantic Way Golf Pass, and their ‘pack’ included local hotels, things to do, places to go… it was a nice touch. Tel: 098 28262.

Woodenbridge focused on Wicklow Golf Breaks which has two packages:
The Wicklow Golf Tour costs €155 which includes three rounds of golf (Arklow, Coollattin & Woodenbridge) and 2 nights B&B at the Woodenbridge Hotel.
The Woodenbridge Challenge costs €160 which includes three rounds of golf (Woodenbridge, Macreddin and Blainroe or The European (€30 supplement)) and 2 nights B&B at the Woodenbridge Hotel. Additional packages are also available.

The par three 11th hole at Woodenbridge.

West Waterford – one of Ireland’s Hidden Gems – was promoting its 2 for 1 offer Mondays and Tuesdays, which equates to €12.50 each. You’re supposed to have a flyer when you book – but mention that you saw the flyer, give them the details of the offer and you should be grand. 058 43216
They also have overnight packages – Golf and 1 night B&B in a local hotel starting from just €60 off peak. Two rounds of golf and 1 night B&B starts at €85, rising to €105. 

If you’re still wondering about what Padraig Harrington was up to, it’s quite simple: when he travelled up to play in the West of Ireland as a lad, he was put up locally and used the daughter’s bedroom of the house he was staying in… while she was away in Dublin. Good story though.

As for the apple pie… well, Pat Ruddy made a late appearance and declared he had been informed by a pair of golf writers that the club’s famous apple pie could be improved by adding cheese. They were American writers, which might explain that bit of lunacy. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy Mrs Ruddy’s pie on a number of occasions… trust me, it doesn’t need to change one tiny little bit.

Keep an eye out for next year’s event and make the effort to go along. Who knows, maybe you’ll ace the 17th at Sawgrass and walk away with two Boyne Valley vouchers worth €478.

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