Monday, February 23, 2015

Play St Andrews Old Course with Allianz Golf

Let’s start with an easy question:

Would you like to play the Old Course at St. Andrews?

Yea, me too.

And would you like to win some Paul McGinley signed merchandise?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Top Golfer 2015 Season... Get Golfing

Mount Juliet's terrific par three 14th.
Top Golfer is up and raring to go for the 2015 Irish golfing season. Bigger and better than last year – just as it was the year before – the schedule now boasts 38 events across the country.

There’s not much point reading on if your handicap is higher than 9 or 10, because these events are for Junior and Senior Scratch Cup golfers… and are very competitive environments (if you want them to be).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

We Say Goodbye to Rathsallagh GC

The 13th at Rathsallagh
[Please note that as of June 2016, the course has re-opened: See relevant blog, here]

And it is a sad goodbye. Rathsallagh Golf Club was a vibrant, big and impressive parkland course, boasting mature trees that shepherded you along all day long. They caused beautiful challenges off the tee and on numerous approaches. You hated and loved those trees in equal measure.

Rathsallagh liked to boast that no tree was felled during the construction of the course. And that is undoubtedly why it feels so natural.

A brief chat with Joe Flynn, the owner of Rathsallagh House (and the golf course), revealed why the course closed a few days ago: the new owners defaulted on their payment and the bank charged in. And we know how 'friendly' and 'reasonable' banks can be!

[A quick note here to say that I have not quoted Joe. I am summarising what he said. However a Wicklow website has erroneously taken the final two sentences above and attributed them to him as a quote. Apologies to Joe]

Here are five photos that show off just some of the beauty of this Co. Wicklow golf course. With luck, something this good won't stay closed for very long.

The opening hole is a par five

The par three 4th

The par three 7th, green to tee, photographed from the walk to the 2nd.

The magnificent Index 1,  par four 10th 

The short, very tight par four 15th 
You can still stay at the enchanting Rathsallagh House... and you can still enjoy the best breakfast in Ireland.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Irish Open 2015... The Biggest Names, The Hottest Ticket

Not only are the tickets selling fast, but the number of high profile golfers continues to grow. With Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els now confirmed to play Royal County Down's hallowed turf, this year's Irish Open is turning into one of the most high profile ever. Who else will Rory influence?

Could we see Keegan Bradley returning, how about Phil Mickelson? Wouldn't Dustin Johnson's inclusion raise the temperature. How about the entire Walker Cup team from 2007?

It's Sergio's first appearance in 15 years... and this for a golfer who won the Irish Open at Druid's Glen in 1999. It is a long overdue return.

Monday, February 9, 2015

King of the Castle (Destination Golf)

Let’s be honest: there are plenty of must-play golfing destinations around the world, but Ireland and Scotland are at the very top of that list. And, while the glorious heathland courses of England, make it a unique adventure, most visiting golfers will be heading specifically for the links courses around Merseyside. That’s just the way it is – reputation carries so much weight.

Scotland is the home of golf and becomes a sort of Mecca to us worldwide. And if you want to see why Scotland is ‘King of the Castle’, checkout the latest edition of Destination Golf, here

You’ll also find coverage of golf in Jakarta, Indonesia and Spain (around Barcelona), as well as the Inaugural World Golf Awards.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tom Doak's Confidential Guide to GB&I

Tom Doak published the first book of his new Confidential Guide series, late last year. This is a major reboot of a book he originally wrote back in the 1980s, pretty much on a whim. This edition concentrates on Ireland and Great Britain, and it is, in a word, fascinating. The Confidential Guide is held in high esteem by golfers everywhere. Not only does he know what he is talking about but he injects humour into much of what he writes.

In Doak’s book he takes a hard, unforgiving eye to golf course design. Over 50 Irish courses receive the Doak treatment, from Adare and Carlow, to Ballybunion and Royal County Down.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that I agree with all of his reviews – or at least his scores (known as the Doak Scale which rates courses out of 10) – because he looks at courses from a whole different perspective and with a far more critical and knowledgeable eye. He is one of the most revered golf course architects in the world; I look at golf courses from the sheer experience of playing them and from the point of view of an amateur golfer. He gives Ballyliffin's two courses just 5 points; Dromoland Castle gets a 3; Ballybunion is the only Irish course to get 10 points; Carne and Narin & Portnoo are labelled with 'Dumb Blonde' awards.
Co Sligo's 4th green (from the right hand side)
Click on the following link for a full review that I wrote on the Armchair Golf Blog. In the meantime, here is a selection of Irish scores to ponder:

Ballybunion Old 10
Royal County Down 9
Lahinch 8
Co Louth 7
Co Sligo 7
Enniscrone 6
Portsalon 6
Waterville 6
Ballyliffin (both courses) 5
Cork 5
Malone 5
Old Head 5
Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) 5
Adare 4
Carlow 4
Royal Dublin 4
Dromoland Castle 3

Plenty to agree with in The Confidential Guide... and plenty to give you a short, sharp shock... Ballyliffin... a 5!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Adare Manor Sold

Adare Golf
The 18th - a dramatic par five, with the green on the left
bank of the River Maigue, beneath the manor.
There are so many hotels and resorts and golf courses being snapped up at the moment, you get the sense the country is being purchased piece by piece. On the positive side of things comes the news that Adare Manor has been sold for an alleged €30 million. Even more positive is that this 5 star, 62 bedroom resort has been sold to Irish business man, JP McManus.

JP loves the place - his charity event, held in 1990 and 2010, was a roaring success.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tom Coyne - The Walking Man Returns

Remember Tom Coyne? The man from Philadelphia who walked around Ireland's coastline playing every links course he encountered. The story of his travels was then captured in a book, A Course Called Ireland.

Now he's back, heading for Scotland on a similar quest. He has a blog up which he started in November last year, but there are a couple of more interesting additions which were posted in January.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Open Championship: BBC vs Sky Sports

So where do you sit on the whole Sky vs. BBC debate. With The Open coverage moving to Sky in 2017, there aren’t many people sitting on the fence… that’s for sure. Why not let your feelings be known on the poll alongside.

Is this not a battle of the old vs. the new?

BBC Golf

The BBC has that lovely lazy coverage. In your PJs, cup of coffee, plate of toast, you settle into the sofa and watch golf from early morning to night. The laconic tones of Peter Alliss, Mark James et al fill the room and it’s as if you’re sitting down with an old friend for a chat.