Friday, July 31, 2015

Ballesteros to make a splash at the Northern Irish Open

As a very quick follow up to my last blog about the Northern Irish Open... news just in is that a Ballesteros will be in the field at Galgorm Castle, from 6-9 August (nex week).

Javier Ballesteros of Spain pictured next to a commemorative
sign in recognition to his dad during the Challenge de Madrid
at the El Encín Golf Hotel in Madrid, Spain.
(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Ballesteros may not have reached the dizzy heights of his legendary father Seve, but the 24-

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Galgorm Castle Northern Irish Open 2015

Sunrise over the 4th green
As the momentum for the Northern Irish Open continues to build, it was great to get back to Galgorm Castle last week. I was there to take photographs and the course was having the final touches applied (although not the sponsor hoarding, thankfully) ahead of an event that is growing in stature.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Macreddin and the Rain Delay

The 12th hole - a big dogleg right.
Sunday morning was brutal. BRUTAL. The rain started… and never stopped. Our tee time at Macreddin was for 10am and Fin and I arrived at the same time… with no one else in the car park. The signs weren’t looking good and, not surprisingly, the course was as good as closed.  

Dermot, the greenkeeper, said he’d move a few holes so they weren’t in water, and we could play as many as we wanted… which wasn’t many. Besides, it seemed

Friday, July 24, 2015

Portstewart Leads The Way

Portstewart's 6th hole
Now that’s a golf hole.” Jeff was walking off the green, shaking his head but the proud owner of a par. “Everything about it is fantastic.”

Which Irish golf hole are we talking about? The par three 6th at Portstewart. Who was giving their verdict? Jeff Wallach, Editor of The Grain golf magazine

Several American golf writers are currently on tour across the Wild Atlantic Way… even if they did start at Portstewart. And it’s

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Paul Dunne - from the Wannabes to the Gonnabe

When Paul first took the lead
I would like to thank Paul Dunne for his performance at The Open. It was majestic and his round on Sunday was the stuff of legend.

Admit it… what red-blooded golfer wannabe hasn’t gone to bed at night dreaming of playing The Open, walking up the 18th, doffing the cap and then

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Golf Open Weeks Ireland: Batch 5

En route to the 1st tee at Galway.
Six more Irish Golf Open Weeks coming up in late July/early August. (Several more are still running from the previous blog, here - listed in date order.)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Golf, Music, Camper Van

OK, so it’s a bit of a segue from golf – and miles away from The Open Championship we’re all praying will restart – but I was on iTunes earlier and I heard a song that brought back memories of my camper van travels.

Which tracks, I wondered, would define those 14 months driving around Ireland.

Here are 14 songs that sum it up, and not a James Last track to be seen... if you’ve read Driving The Green, about my journey, you’ll understand my difficult relationship with a certain album called James Last Plays Abba.
  1. Good by Better Than Ezra
  2. Reconnect by Director
  3. The Pretender by Foo Fighters
  4. Fully Alive by Flyleaf
  5. Set it Off by Audioslave
  6. Once by Pearl Jam
  7. The Hook by Grant Lee Buffalo
  8. Getaway by Reef
  9. Stuntman by Kasabian
  10. All Sparks by Editors
  11. Monster by The Automatic
  12. I Miss You by Blink-182
  13. New York (live) by U2, 
    and, um...
 I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry

If you don’t recognise any of the tracks, can I suggest you start with Flyleaf…

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Druid's Glen is Thriving

Approach over water on the Glen's par four 15th.
Druid’s Glen Resort continues to build its brand. With its high quality hotel, spa and leisure facilities it offers families everything they could ask for – Wicklow’s beaches are within easy reach, Glendalough is a pretty drive through the Wicklow Mountains, and it’s only 40 minutes from Dublin.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Atlantic Coast Challenge - 2015 Recap

The Irish Golf Blog - Atlantic Coast Challenge Recap
Enniscrone's 12th.
It’s never a good sign when you’re playing a three-day tournament and your wedge breaks on the first hole of the first course. It was a simple approach from the middle of the fairway at County Sligo, but as the clubhead dug into the turf I could feel it twisting backwards.

Bad Luck & Trouble
Bad luck for sure, but on links courses there are always other shots you can play, using any number of different clubs. Oddly, I didn’t feel the loss of the wedge at either County Sligo or Carne, but on

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Atlantic Coast Challenge Day 3 - Enniscrone Links

The bell on Enniscrone's 4th hole, a par five.
The last day of the Atlantic Coast Challenge - for our team - was at Enniscrone Golf Club. It’s a links course that I love (receiving 96 out of 100 in the new, third edition of Hooked), but here’s the thing: almost every year we turn up at the club and there’s a problem – be it on the tee or in the clubhouse. 

It just leaves a bad taste as you walk off the tee. Not that we walked off very quickly as the three ball in front of us were stopped halfway down the 1st and sent back to the tee to play off different tees. There was no Starter and the guys had teed off the Whites, not the Greens... what that meant for the two groups in front is anyone's guess.

Some photos below:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Atlantic Coast Challenge Day 2 - Carne Links

Views back up the fairway over the 8th green at Carne.
No time (or energy) to tell you much about Day 2 of the Atlantic Coast Challenge, at Carne, in Belmullet.

Suffice to say we enjoyed a typical Irish day of rain, wind and sunshine... often at the same time. I love this course, and why wouldn't you love something this big and raw and natural. Look at the photos and you'll get a glimpse of what it is all about.

Yes, the greens aren't as pristine as Rosses Point yesterday, but Carne's ethos

Atlantic Coast Challenge 2015 – Co. Sligo Golf Club

View from the 12th tee over the 11th green, to Benbulben.
We were expecting rain… massive, massive amounts of rain. This is the north west after all and, despite the centenary celebrations for a certain Mr Yeats, there is little anyone can do about the weather.

How we then managed to play 12 holes in sunshine is beyond me. For the opening holes we endured that constant drizzle that epitomises so many Irish days, the ones that settle over you like a dull, relentless migraine. I assumed – as did my playing partners – that it was down for the day, yet an hour later it was sunshine. Benbulben

Monday, July 6, 2015

Atlantic Coast Challenge 2015 Begins

Here are three photographs of what the beautiful Irish golf courses at Carne, Rosses Point, and Enniscrone look like. I'm putting these up now, the morning the Atlantic Coast Challenge begins, because I may not get a chance to take a single photo over the next three days. The weather forecast predicts rain, rain and more rain.

The par three 4th on Carne's Kilmore nine.
Views back down the 17th at County Sligo.
Views over the 2nd green at Enniscrone, to Killala Bay.
If I do manage to get any shots, I'll add something here as soon as I'm out of my wet gear.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Win Tickets & Hospitality to The Open Championship (courtesy of Allianz)

Here's a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity for 10 people to visit The Home of Golf 
in all its glory. The prize is 5 pairs of all expenses paid, Allianz Hospitality 
passes to the Open Championship – one of which will include three days accommodation. 

All you have to do is upload your most treasured golf memories of The Open 
at  St Andrews from down the years. Upload to where, you ask... either to the 

Be sure to use the #OldCourseStories hashtag to 'qualify'. That’s it!

The deadline is Wednesday 8th July at 11pm.

Terms & Conditions are Here.

And if you still want to win stuff... check out my last blog with €500 worth of goodies being given away.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hooked on Golf – The New Third Edition (and a bunch of prizes)

The Irish Golf Blog - Hooked Third Edition
Today sees the official launch on my blog of the new 3rd edition of Hooked… still the most comprehensive guide to the golf courses of Ireland.

I’m giving away prizes, so don’t hit the snooze button quite yet.

The previous edition came out in 2011 and the first edition was published in 2009. Between then and now the Irish golfing landscape has endured many changes.

Courses have closed, re-opened, re-named… clubs have built new clubhouses, introduced new holes, new routing, new greens, new bunkering. Storms have flattened trees and stolen dunes and fairways. So here are the six key changes to Hooked and Irish golf courses in the last six years:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Paul Dunne Gone Done It Again

Congratulations to Irish golfer, Paul Dunne, who will once again be teeing it up with the world's best at The Open Championship at St. Andrews.

He played in The Open last year, too, at Royal Liverpool. He missed the cut by a couple of shots but was on the 'wrong' side of the draw, regarding the weather - only two players actually made the cut from that group: Adam Scott and Shane Lowry.

This year - and only a couple of days ago - he qualified for it at Woburn Golf Club... just as he did last year. And he won both times... by beating some of the biggest Pro names in European golf. Retief Goosen (who qualified in 3rd), Robert Rock (who Paul beat last year as well), Colin Montgomerie and Thorbjorn Olesen, to name a few.