Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Master of Esker Hills

Sunset over the 18th green at Esker Hills
The Masters is over for another year and while there was no Irish winner there was a strong Irish showing... from Esker Hills Golf Club.

Here's a golf club showing a bit of innovation and chutzpah... and there’s not an awful lot of that about.

Using the hashtag #FromEskerToAugusta, the club ran a tournament celebrating Shane
Lowry’s inclusion in the Augusta field. Staged over the four days of the Masters, it was a daily Singles event. So far so good. The price of entry (€20 for members, €30 for visitors) included lunch or dinner. Good value, but so what you might ask. Well, when your most famous member is in the world’s top 40 you find that extra special something to make your event all the more memorable. At Esker Hills, many of the prizes on offer had been signed by Shane Lowry, which adds to the occasion and the event’s allure. Golfers also got to sit down in the bar at the end of the afternoon and watch Shane on the big screens.
The par three 5th... played into rain and a stiff wind.
In all, some 650 golfers played over the four days. That’s pretty impressive and Ray Molloy, one of the club’s directors, was keen to find out if that was some sort of record for such an event. I have no idea, but the place was packed when I played and the bar was similarly jammed when our group rolled in at 8pm. Bonhomie was flowing and it must have added nicely to the club's coffers.... so much so that they're looking to do something along the same lines should Shane make the Ryder Cup team.

I played with Aaron McAllorum (of @OpenGolfIreland), Darren Murray and an Australian lady – Tiffany Chaisson – who is busily driving around Ireland, playing golf every day and spreading her love of the game... which she has been playing for less than two years. She is, quite literally, touring the world playing golf and loving every minute of it. (Her blog is And that's despite a pretty wet and chilly afternoon. At least the sun came out for the final two holes.
Tiffany tees off on the par three 15th.
There was nothing very complicated to the thinking of the folks at Esker Hills, but with 650 golfers passing through its doors it has certainly delivered a good income stream, some strong brand recognition and marketing momentum, and – judging by the feedback – plenty of golfers who plan to return to play this fine and extremely enjoyable midlands course designed by Christy O’Connor. Greens fees are a mere €25-€30 which represents some of the best golfing value in the country.

Now, if only more clubs would start looking at how to exploit opportunities presented by the Majors, the Irish Open, the Ryder Cup, Olympics, Six Nations, World Cup… you get the idea. 

It’s not rocket surgery, as Yogi Berra once said.

1 comment:

  1. Great write up Kevin. How much fun was the golf? Great track and then the sun popping out when we were on the 15th. Thanks again for inviting me.
    Cheers, Tiff