Monday, November 28, 2016

County Louth in Irish Golfer Magazine

The approach to the 3rd green
When you sit down and start writing a golf course review, your focus will usually settle on the key thing that overwhelmed you... or underwhelmed you. I confess to being disappointed when I hear people say they didn't like a course because the greens were in poor condition (in January) or that the round took too long because they got caught behind a slow four ball. I have often been asked how I set about reviewing a course and the answer is simple: I ask the question: how great an

Thursday, November 17, 2016

World Golf Awards 2016 - the Irish Winners

The World Golf Awards have just been held at the Conrad Resort, in the Algarve’s Quinta do Lago. It’s the 3rd year of the awards and the Conrad is becoming the host venue… which is not much of a hardship since it’s wall-to-wall five star luxury. (I’ve been lucky enough to sample it.)

In all, there are dozens of awards spread across the different continents and Ireland

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The 'Algarve Golf Challenge' from Golf Voyager

With only two weeks left to go to book your place (single or two-ball) for this golfing challenge, things are warming up nicely for the Golf Voyager event in the Algarve.

You can play in this event for just €315pp -and there are over €4000 in prizes to be

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Society Golf in Ireland 2016-2017

If you're passing your clubhouse in the coming days pick up a copy of the Irish Golfer Magazine. The new issue is just out and is distributed free to most golf clubs. Alternatively, you can read it online, here.

It's a fantastic magazine... but then I would say that.

There are two of my articles in the mag this month: the first is a course feature on the links at Co. Louth; and the second is a lengthy review of over 40 Irish golf courses and the society offers available over the next 12 months.

The current changes being made at Co Louth focus on a new short game area around the clubhouse.  The article talks about what makes this links so special.

The par four 14th at Co. Louth - short, no bunkers and lethal.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Ireland's Hotel Happiness

Waterford Castle
Condé Nast has bestowed on the Irish tourism industry – and Irish hotels and golf resorts in particular – an important mantle. Following publication of the magazine’s Best Hotels of the World and Top Resorts in Europe awards, Ireland can boast several of the best hotels/resorts… and the number one hotel in the world.

Take a bow Ballyfin Demesne. Condé Nast’s 300,000 readers awarded the hotel a score of 99.11 out of 100.

Conde Nast Best Hotels of the World

For those of you who don’t know Ballyfin, it’s a few miles outside Portlaoise. With only 20 rooms and a 614-acre estate this is serious hideaway luxury. The hotel is a former Regency mansion which took eight years to renovate.

Ballyfin’s guests might not be too interested in golf but there are some excellent/fun courses close to hand - Mountrath and Portarlington most notably. Not surprisingly, however, the Ballyfin website only lists the glamour courses, with the nearby Ballesteros course at The Heritage mentioned alongside the K Club (81 km) and Mount Juliet (78 km). It’s all about luxury, darling.
The K Club's charming par three beside the River Liffey.
The other two hotels in the top ten have stronger ties to golf. In 9th place is The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Co Mayo, which enjoyed a €68 million makeover in 2015. It is separate to the renowned and multi-award winning Ashford Castle next door, but it is owned by the same group (Red Carnation Hotels Collection). Far more importantly, they share a 9-hole golf course on the castle grounds – designed by Eddie Hackett, no less. What better way to warm up for dinner than with a quick spin round the course. Golf is complimentary to hotel guests, although the links at Connemara may prove irresistible as the drive through the Connemara landscape and the scenery on offer from the course are breathtaking.
The 2nd green at Waterford Castle
In 7th position is a resort far more familiar to golfers: Waterford Castle has been investing heavily since being taken over in March 2015, and the golf course has benefitted as a result. Yes, the hotel receives all the plaudits (including the Michelin-starred Munster Room restaurant) but the 18-hole golf course is stretched across this 310 acre island and you have to take a private ferry to get here.

Ireland is the only country to have multiple winners in the top 10 Best Hotels of the World:
1. Ballyfin Demesne, Co Laois, Ireland
2. COMO The Treasury, Perth, Australia
3. Hotel Matilda, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
4. Umaid Bhawan Palace (Taj), Jodhpur, India
5. Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Dorset, England
6. Virgin Hotels Chicago, Illinois, US
7. Waterford Castle, Co Waterford, Ireland
8. Hotel Unique, São Paulo, Brazil
9. The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Co Mayo, Ireland
10. Hotel Il Pellicano, Tuscany, Italy

Conde Nast Top Resorts in Europe

Of the top 25 European resorts, four are in Ireland… and all four have their own golf course!

In 5th place is Ashford Castle – see The Lodge at Ashford Castle above.
The new 6th hole at Trump Doonbeg
In 20th place is Trump International Hotel & Golf Links. Investment is the name of the game for most of the Irish hotels and resorts on these two lists… and Doonbeg is no different. The Greg Norman-designed links course received the Martin Hawtree treatment over the last two years, opening for full play a few months ago.

In 21st position is Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort. I rate the course as the best parkland in Ireland, but let’s not forget that the entire resort is currently closed as it enjoys a multi-million makeover. Talk of Fazio’s redesign has golfing pundits salivating. And when it re-opens (2017 is planned) the resort should rise up these rankings.

The final resort is Dromoland Castle, at number 24. Personally, I think the parkland course which wraps around the castle is hugely under-rated. It has everything you could ask for in terms of variety and challenges and beauty.

These Irish winners are luxury destinations and are therefore beyond the reach of many Irish golfers, but if these awards make international travellers sit up and take notice of what Ireland has to offer then that can only be a positive thing. After all, Condé Nast carries a lot of weight. And, even if you don’t stay, there’s nothing to stop you playing the golf courses.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dan the Man... Wins Golf For Life

Golf for Life...
When was the last time you entered a prize draw for anything… and won? A car, a holiday, a cuddly toy… I once won a tee shirt when I was 14, and then a Sega Megadrive thing some 25 years later. My guess is that I’ve done better than 95% of the population when it comes to winning ‘free’ stuff.

Do you ever wonder if the whole