Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Maria Dunne reflects on a rollercoaster career: “The time is right to step away”

On returning home from Daytona Beach, Florida, as a Bethune-Cookman College Graduate, thoughts of Curtis Cup triumphs and International representation were far from the mind of Maria Dunne. The then 24 year old had just spent 5 years stateside and had been struck with an injury that put doubt on her ever competing again. “I had just graduated college and was already in a point of my life where I didn’t know what I was doing career wise so it was difficult to deal with two and a half years of back injuries after I had gotten to a point where I thought I

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Galway Golf Club
As news filters through that The European Club will host next year's AIG Close Championship, from 4 - 8 August, the GUI have also confirmed the host venues for the four years after that with the date change set to benefit players.

All this while the 2017 Championship plays on in a wet and windy Galway Golf Club.

The other four courses are Ballybunion, Rosapenna, Malone and Headfort. 
A new date for the blue riband event in Irish domestic golf means the championship is more accessible than ever before for Ireland’s leading amateurs.
Headfort (New) - one of the best parklands in Ireland
Scheduled to commence on the Saturday of the Republic of Ireland’s August Bank Holiday for the foreseeable future, the date change will see the Close take place after the South of Ireland and before the Home Internationals which are scheduled to move into September.
Ballybunion (2019), Rosapenna (Sandy Hills - 2020), Malone (2021) and Headfort (New – 2022) are the host venues for the coming years.

Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) is a stern links test.
Mark Wehrly, GUI Championships Manager said: “We are delighted to confirm these wonderful venues for the AIG Irish Close Championship over the coming years – and we’re very grateful to the clubs for offering their facilities for the championship.”
Malone is Northern Ireland's most vibrant parkland.
“We’re hopeful that the new date will help our leading amateur players, many of whom are career amateurs with jobs and young families, to continue supporting what is our leading domestic championship.
“We also hope the change in the date of the Home Internationals will further enhance the attraction of the Close to our best players.”
The date change required the GUI to liaise with Mullingar Golf Club in relation to their Scratch Trophy which has occupied the bank holiday weekend for the past number of years.
The European Club's 16th hole
“We very much value the engagement and positive response from Mullingar in relation to the date change of the Close” Wehrly said. “The club have recognised the significance of this change for the Irish Close and have been more than accommodating in agreeing to move their Scratch Trophy dates”.

The last time The European Club staged the Close in 2006, Rory McIlroy won the second of his back to back Close titles.
Ballybunion (Cashen)
Speaking after his victory in 2006 McIlroy said: "This is probably the best links course I have ever played. It’s just the definition to it with the sleepers in the bunkers. It is totally unbelievable. I love courses where you really have to think your way around. It gets me focused much more."

Regularly ranked as one of the world’s leading links courses, the County Wicklow links was established in 1987.
AIG Irish Close Championship –  Future Venue and Dates
4 – 8 August 2018 at The European Club, Wicklow
3 – 7 August 2019 at Ballybunion (Old Course), Kerry
1 – 5 August 2020 at Rosapenna (Sandy Hills), Donegal
31 July – 4 August 2021 at Malone, Belfast
30 July – 3 August 2022 at Headfort (New), Meath

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lahinch Golf Club 125 Years

Chipping in to the 6th green.
The club was founded on April 15th 1892, in Sharry’s Hotel on the main street of Lahinch (where the post office is today). Members of the Black Watch Regiment met and signed a lease with Daniel Thynne, and the first game took place on that very day, with holes marked out by feathers and sticks.

In 1894, Old Tom Morris arrived to lend his design expertise and it says a lot that over a century later two of his greatest holes (Klondyke and The Dell)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ireland's Western Golfing Wonders

Connemara Links
There are always going to be great golf packages put together for golfers, whether they are coming to Ireland... or living here. 'Western Wonders' from Fairways & Fundays doesn't discriminate!

If you want to play three exceptional coastline courses - including my all-time favourite - and stay for four nights in four star accommodation on Ireland's stunning Wild Atlantic Way, then this is a package that's as good as it gets.

I know some people gripe about the cost of green fees over here - something I think is overdone when you consider prices elsewhere (Portugal, US, UK) - but you can't even

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Big Irish Golf Giveaways

There are a couple of big giveaways by Irish golf companies at the moment... just in case anyone is interested.

Irish Golfer Magazine, €30,000, Closing date 29th September. Enter HERE

My Golf Opens, €25,000, Closing date 31st August. Enter HERE

That's it. Knock yourselves out! Oh... prizes are:

Irish Golfer Magazine

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Northern Ireland NIOpen... half way there

2nd green at Galgorm Castle
Two tied for halfway NI Open lead.

Ross Kellett and Tom Murray share the halfway lead of the Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf after both tackling very different conditions in Ballymena.

Out in the morning, Scotland’s Kellett played in rain reminiscent of his native highlands, his birdie-birdie finish taking him to eight-under-par after an impressive five-under second round 66.

Murray’s round, by contrast, was mostly in sunshine, though a stiffer breeze had picked up in the afternoon, but the Englishman’s second successive 67 took him into a share of the lead at Galgorm Castle.
3rd green and sunrise.
Kellett finished in the top 20 on his last outing in Sweden two weeks ago and he acknowledged that,

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Northern Irish Open 2017, Galgorm Castle

The wall fronting the 7th green at Galgorm Castle
The NIOpen starts in earnest tomorrow and Galgorm Castle Golf Club is in fine, fine shape. The club/management have been working hard to keep things 'fresh' on the course and there is now a lot more rough hugging bunkers, with the fescue adding hugely to the colour (and dangers) of the holes.

A new wall has been added to the front of the par 7th green - see photo above - which has given it a far sterner and classier appearance.

Entry to the NIOpen is free of charge and there will be a bigger buzz than usual - not

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Galway Bay Inaugural Scratch Cup and Open Week

The 3rd hole at Galway Bay
On Sunday, 30th July, top Senior and Junior golfers battled it out in testing conditions on the superb Galway Bay championship golf course. The Senior Scratch Cup was played over 36 holes and, after Round 1, local favourite Eddie McCormack and Galway’s Joe Lyons couldn’t be separated with an opening round of 70.
Playing off the Blue Championship tees (7,300 yards) in the afternoon, some great golf saw Joe Lyons pip Eddie McCormack and Ronan Mullarney  to take the inaugural Galway Bay Senior Scratch Cup, sponsored by Pat Power.

Joe Lyons, a big fan of Galway Bay, said:

“The Course is in Fantastic Condition, both the greens and the fairways were perfect. Galway Bay is a true championship test off the Blue Tees. It was exceptionally challenging but I could find no fault with the course and the club, and it will be a perfect host for the Connacht Finals. It was also an added bonus to get one over on Eddie for a change. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it’s nice!”

Joe Lyons (centre) receives the trophy from sponsor
Pat Power, with Head Pro Dara Ford alongside.
In the Junior Scratch Cup played over 18 holes, Portumna’s Eamon Dervan secured the Cup with a 76, followed by John Bodkin with a 77 and local Marcus Brennan in 3rd with a 77.

Approach to the 12th hole.
The course is in great condition and was a good practice opportunity for the county’s top golfers to test themselves at Galway Bay before the Connacht Finals, which will be held on the course mid-August. This week is Open Week (see below), which will no doubt see added traffic during Galway’s busiest week of the year.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mount Wolseley Back Tees Event - Sat 5th Aug

3rd hole, green to fairway 
Another of Ireland's big golfing parklands is hosting a back tees event, and this one's on this coming Saturday, 5th August. Apologies for the late notice. Mount Wolseley, in Tullow, Co. Carlow, will be hosting the competition which will play over its full par 72 of 7,134 yards. The price of entry is a mere €25.

This is a Christy O'Connor Junior course and it is big... with a fast, furious and tough start. Get through the opening three holes (Indices 5, 3 and 1, respectively) and you have a chance, but don't be surprised to find a double bogey sneaking onto your card before reaching the water-laden 4th.

Tel: 059 9180161
Book Online, Here
Mount Wolseley 2nd green
The par four 4th at Mount Wolseley.
Approach to the 420 yard par four 8th.

Monday, July 31, 2017

View from Druids Glen Back Tees

“We didn’t use the back, back tee,” Marcus said on the par five 16th hole. “We didn’t think people would be able to find it.”

He took us across the tee we were using, through some undergrowth and pointed to a tee box hidden a farther 30 yards in the distance. He had a point.

The Back Tees competition at Druids Glen, earlier this month, was the first such event held at the club. Judging by

Friday, July 21, 2017

Play Wicklow GC for Mellon Educate Charity

Derek tees off on the 6th
Last year, I was invited to play in a charity golf event by a friend of mine. Darren Murray has become very committed to Mellon Educate – a charity that builds schools in Africa and improves education for African children. He headed out there and was deeply involved in the charity’s work. He still is, which is why he’s hosting another charity golf day on Saturday August 26th, 2017.

The event took place at Wicklow Golf Club, and it was a four-person scramble – a format I think offers a tremendous

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Irish Open Weekend - Portstewart Golf Club

Done and dusted. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is over for 2017, and the winner was a worthy one. Rahm pulled away comfortably after that remarkable eagle on the par five 4th hole and it was catch up for everyone thereafter. Despite the afternoon rain, the scoring was exceptional. Rahm may have smashed records - his 24 under being the lowest of any Irish Open - but every Professional who played the weekend finished under par.

It was thrilling to see, although, in my opinion, the weather conditions did not allow Portstewart to display the true test she offers.

The Championship Village kicking off an evening's entertainment
on Saturday
It mattered little. Portstewart looked fabulous and while Sunday was wet, Saturday delivered glorious sunshine and the 450 million people watching on TV around the world must have been over-awed by the coastline's beauty and the links course's charms. Those at the tournament certainly had a stunning day to remember... even if Ireland's golfers got left behind in the birdie blitz.
The 18th hole stands lie empty, although some early birds
are prepared to wait a couple of hours to get ringside seats.
Sunday morning started quietly although that soon changed thanks to both Shane Lowry and Gavin Moynihan delivering fantastic rounds of seven under and eight under, respectively. The Irish journalists were not on hand to witness the back nine of the two Irishmen as we were attending a media announcement to declare Ballyliffin as the host of next year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The Ballyliffin announcement
I did get to see Shane playing a delicate chip on 16 (below)... but that was it for those two Irish boys.

Being in the Media Centre, as part of the 'golf media' has been an interesting, enthralling and educational experience... so a thank you to both the European Tour and the Irish Examiner for giving me the opportunity. I got to see some fabulous golf... and some not so fabulous golf... meet and interview interesting people, and see first hand how an operation of this size is run.

I tip my hat to the volunteers - the park & ride attendants particularly - who remained upbeat every day and met and helped everyone with a smile.

Roll on next year when the remote beauty of Inishowen will be on display.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Irish Open Day 2 - Portstewart Golf Club

Where's a Professional when you need one!
Rain started the day; sunshine finished it. Tomorrow looks rather exceptional.

The scoring was free and easy... even if Rory would disagree. The boy couldn't buy a putt and misses the cut once again. Birdies and eagles were flying thick and fast but the Holywood star and number four in the world managed just six in his 36 holes and countered that with five bogeys and a double.

It's great to see some seldom seen names atop the leaderboard, while Rahm's presence is most threatening.

One of the leaders is Frenchman Benjamin Hebert. In his post-round interview he was asked what has changed for him this week after some disappointing performances. His response was simple... he said he changed his shoes... and he was only half joking.
The crowd swells as Rory approaches.
Paul Dunne is one of many who continues to impress and while the Northern Irish representation is now limited to Michael Hoey (-4), the boys from south of the border number four: Lowry, Moynihan, Harrington and Dunne.
Too many signatures? Two caps is the obvious solution.

Hanson hits two perfect shots onto the 7th green. Easy birdie.
The atmosphere seemed to ramp up a good bit today with attendance rising by 1,000. The loss of Rory may affect proceedings slightly, but there's still a lot to play for and a lot of excitement to come.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Irish Open Day 1 - Portstewart Golf Club

Flagman on the 7th.
What a cracking first day at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. I have to confess this is all a first for me and it's a blast. The Media Centre is packed with Irish golf writers, broadcasters and photographers and a load of international counterparts; the course is fabulous and the golf thoroughly entertaining.

As a Greystones Golf Club man I am clearly invested in the progress of Paul Dunne but the whole place was buzzing and the Irish Open has stepped up one, if not two, levels thanks to the Rolex Series which has increased the prize fund to seven million dollars.

Tommy Fleetwood shows he is fleet of foot (yes, I actually wrote that!)
Check out the Irish Examiner for Friday July 7th for my articles. In the meantime, some photos - love the one of Tommy Fleetwood running to allow spectators to cross and mob the burger/hot dog bar that sits in the middle of the course (between holes 6 and 7). There are bars elsewhere too and the atmosphere is very relaxed... although come Sunday it probably won't be.
Wang tees off on the par three 6th. The stand on the tee is
probably the best viewing point on the course
Paul Dunne strolls on to the 2nd green... and makes his first birdie
of the day... he finishes 5 under despite some wayward driving.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Irish Boys Championships Powers Up

Castletroy's 18th
This... this is how you finish a tournament in style:

Kilkenny’s Mark Power holed out for eagle to claim a stunning victory at the end of a three-hole playoff with England's Jack Cope as he retained his Irish Boys title at Castletroy.

Becoming the first player since Paul Dunne to win back-to-back Irish Boys Championships, Power wrote his name into the history books

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Views over Portstewart's famous 1st hole.
THE countdown is well and truly on and the excitement is building ahead of next week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Portstewart Golf Club. As part of the prestigious Rolex Series, this year’s event is expected to be the biggest Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in the tournament’s illustrious history… but how well do you know your

Sunday, June 25, 2017

County Louth Golf Club 125th Anniversary

A couple of weeks ago, County Louth launched their official 125th anniversary celebrations. A week long string of events started with a four person team event. It was beautiful day, a well managed occasion and a lot of fun. And yes, I was fortunate to be one of the invited guests, playing with two members (Michael and Emer) and Ron Smartt, from Travelling the Fairways. That's Ron, below, demonstrating how to play the

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Take on the Druid

The very wet par three 17th at Druids Glen
Is there a more daunting tee shot in Irish golf than the par four 13th at Druids Glen? There's something about the fairway far below, whipping right and out of sight around a rock face, that makes it utterly terrifying. Knowing that a long approach shot over water then awaits will have you gripping your driver far too tightly. The hole measures 451 yards... from the forward tees. I have played it numerous times over the year… and every time fills me with a thrill and not a little dread.
The par three 8th
From the back Blue tee it is 491 yards. I have never played it from there but on Friday 30th June that is exactly what I will be doing as Druids Glen hosts its first ever Open Singles back tees event. The par 71 course will measure a full 7,046 yards. OK, so that's not of Killeen Castle proportions (7,677 yards) but on the plus side it makes Druids Glen more accessible. The 13th may be a monster but the longest of the three par fives is just 538 yards (the 16th) and the par threes measure 190/166/174/203 yards... making it all manageable, although woe betide you if you get to the par three 17th with any kind of score. At Index 5 it is not a hole where you can 'play safe'. At least on the 13th you can play it as a par five.
The famous par three 12th
A couple of months ago, Aaron McAllorum outlined Ireland's various clubs hosting 'back tee' events in the pages of Irish Golfer Magazine’s Digital ezine. I mean, think about it: how many of the big courses have back tees that are never used yet every day they are diligently tended by the greenkeeping staff? Use it or lose it, I reckon.
Approach to the 15th
The cost of entry is €50 per visitor, a €20-€50 discount on the normal green fee. Now bear in mind that this is Ireland' most colourful and fun parkland (IMO), host to four Irish Opens, and you're going to have plenty of golfers queuing up to play.  And you’ll be playing from the same tees as Sergio when he won the Irish Open in 1999 – his first professional victory.

You can book here

See you on the tee.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

114th Ladies British Open Amateur Championship

Approach to P&K's 5th hole
Anyone who thinks the ladies game of golf is taking a back seat to the men's should think again. Eleven amateurs are competing in the 114th Ladies British Open Amateur Championship, which starts today at Pyle & Kenfig.

The Championship, being hosted by the R&A for the first time after the merger of the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) and the R&A at the beginning of this year, will be contested by 144 competitors from 24 countries, including 33 players ranked in the top 100 of the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR).

Of the 58 players representing the Home Nations 11 are from Ireland. World Number One and

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Golf World Top 100 Irish Golf Courses 2017

Lahinch Golf Club. A dramatic climb into the Top 5.
The biennial Top 100 Irish Golf Course rankings by Golf World have just been released. Golf World is a UK magazine and as well as producing a GB & Ireland Top 100 ranking, they also produce individual rankings for England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

The ranking criteria have evolved over the years, as have the panellists, their number and their areas of expertise. It is very easy to have a panel heavily weighted with professional golfers, golf course architects, golf writers and those working in golf itself (general

Friday, June 9, 2017

Golf and Glasson's Sunday Special

The Glasson Golf Hotel is currently running a Sunday Special of 1 night's Dinner, Bed & Breakfast, and 2 rounds of golf (the 2nd comes with the compliments of the hotel) for the price of €125 pps.

Glasson’s driveway glides between big trees and above the course’s best holes which drift down to the edge of Killenure Bay… and one of the most stunning par threes in

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Carton House - Monty Mashes It Up

When I wrote an article on Carton House for Irish Golfer Magazine a couple of months ago, I stated that the Montgomerie was a seriously tough course… one of the top ten most challenging courses in the country, in my opinion.

At the time, I had played it on my own and scored well… if unofficially... and I left feeling pleased with myself and not a little bit relieved. I love the course but you come in knowing you're taking on a heavyweight.

Yesterday was the Carton House Media Day, and the Montgomerie was all set to flex

Monday, June 5, 2017

Social Media Open Portugal, November 2017

Combine all that is good in Irish golf and what you love about the game… and add some warmth and sunshine.

The original, Irish-based Social Media Open kicked off in 2013. Forty golfers turned up at Mount Juliet for the opening day of a four day amateur pairs’ event that also visited Adare, Old Head and Castlemartyr. Golf Monthly magazine was so impressed by the tournament’s idea that they sent a reporter to take part (what a hardship!).

Since then, the event has gone from strength to strength, with this year’s Social Media

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Golf Sixes with Rory - at the DDF Irish Open

Portstewart's 6th green
Now this is a rather special idea for all Irish golfers, young and old. How would you like to win a six-hole, inside-the-ropes experience with Rory McIlroy at the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation at Portstewart Golf Club?

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation is teaming up with VOX Golf and Rory McIlroy to offer golfers a truly unique experience ahead of the prestigious Rolex Series event, which takes place from July 6-9.

“Golf Sixes with Rory” is a six-hole competition launching on Friday June 2 throughout the island of Ireland, with the qualifying events running until Wednesday June 28.

The lucky winners of a six-hole competition, throughout the island of Ireland, will walk six holes inside the ropes with Rory McIlroy during this year’s tournament.

To compete, download the VoxGolf app, select your course and enter the “Golf Sixes with Rory” competition by playing any run of six holes – it must be the first six, middle six or final six holes of any course of your choice.

Then after you have played your six holes, simply submit your score and view a live leaderboard.

The best six scores from each course will qualify into a draw to win a special six-hole walk inside the ropes with Rory during the opening two rounds of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The 6th green at Portstewart
Entry is completely free and golfers can enter as many times as they wish, with their best score counting. Entry is open to all GUI registered club members and MyGolf Group society players.

All golfers who enter the six-hole competition will receive the opportunity to purchase a discounted Dubai Duty Free Irish Open ticket and, in addition to that, will have the chance to win Nike apparel, Taylor Made equipment and tickets to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

VoxGolf is an Irish-based software company developing mobile applications for golfers and the golf industry worldwide. The VoxGolf platform enables users to compete nationally in competitions over any number of holes.
A close look at Portstewart's par four 11th
The free mobile app acts as a digital scorecard for players, with a live leaderboard to monitor performance after the round.