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