Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Golf... Time to Get Planning

Weather be damned... golf is golf... so consider some of the competitions and offers which will be in play over the Christmas and New Year period. There are plenty of them... here is a mere handful of just 8 clubs.
If you want to find out what's on near you, take a look at the Open Fixtures tab on

Monday, December 11, 2017

Golf Gifts for Christmas 2018

Christmas... I only ever address Christmas once December arrives. The stores that have 'Christmas sections' in August or - worse - play Christmas Music in October, should be pilloried and black-balled for all eternity.

Buying golfers gifts for Christmas can be fraught with difficulty, especially if you're not a golfer. And for those non-golfers tempted to purchase some golfing novelty item, a word to the wise... DON'T. There's plenty of rubbish out there but you'll never go wrong

Video Killed the Armchair Star: New R&A Video Protocols

A working group led by The R&A and the USGA has unanimously agreed to adopt a new set of protocols for video review when applying the Rules of Golf.

And about time too! These armchair pundits, who watch their 60 inch TV HD screens almost praying that a Pro will cock up so they can report it, are now being forcibly retired. So please, please stop and just enjoy watching the bloody game.

I’d like to take credit for this new approach – seeing as the new protocol is one I had

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Carne's €100 Winter Golf Offer

Carne Golf Links introduced its Winter Deal a few weeks ago... and it's a seriously fabulous offer. Play Carne as many times as you like, from now until March 2018, for €100.  
To quote Tom Coyne, author of A Course Called Ireland, "In any string of words I might pen over the rest of my life, I might never write a more true sentence than this: Carne is absolutely brilliant. Front nine,

Monday, December 4, 2017

Volunteers Needed - Biggest Amateur Golf Tournaments in the World, at Carton House

 The Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and the Irish Ladies Golfing Union (ILGU) will host the World Amateur Team Championships (WATC) 2018 in late August and early September 2018, in Ireland. The two events will be staged at Carton House, where players will be tested on the world famous O’Meara and Montgomerie

Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas Golf Rush... to Ballyliffin

Next week on Tuesday (Dec 5), in the Irish Examiner, there will be an article (click for link) with lots of golf gift ideas for Christmas. One of the items on that list will NOT be a special deal for tickets for next year's Irish Open at Ballyliffin. It came through a touch too late for my Examiner piece... but it fully deserves to be included, so here goes: 

Following the huge success of this year’s event at Portstewart, the 2018 Dubai Duty

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Question of a Captain’s Courtesy

Did anyone see the TripAdvisor review of Worplesdon Golf Club, in England, left by the Captain of another club? It's a few weeks ago now and if you use TripAdvisor, more fool you as the site is so easily and frequently manipulated that you could turn up at a "4 star hotel" and find it more closely resembles a horse stable.

The Captain's letter (see the link in the Comment below) once again demonstrates how idiotic golfers can be and how we - as golfers - are all made to look like stuck-up jerks as a result.

The scenario is simple: a Captain of a south west English club decided to play three golf courses in Surrey. He makes the calls to arrange the rounds and looks for ‘courtesy’ (i.e. a freebie) of the course for himself. Of the three clubs, two grant him that courtesy… but one doesn’t. So he goes on to TripAdvisor to rant about how disgraceful this is.

First question: what’s your immediate reaction to this?

There are generally acknowledged protocols that club Captains – Presidents, too – have access to courses on a courtesy basis in the year in which they are Captain. Sometimes, due to the workload on a Captain in his special year, that courtesy is moved to the following year… thereby allowing him/her the opportunity to take advantage. But – and this is an important ‘but’ – such a courtesy does not have to be extended. Expecting it is presumptive and plenty of clubs have their reasons for not offering such a courtesy. Imagine how many freebies a top rated course would end up providing to visiting captains. There are other considerations, too, and if you read Worplesdon’s General Manager’s well reasoned response (they are more inclined to give free rounds to charities) you’ll get the gist of the volume of ‘freebie’ requests that golf clubs can receive every year.

So the Captain is aggrieved at this perceived snub and rants on TripAdvisor about how he’s the Captain of a ‘Top 200 club’ and that the tradition of offering courtesy rounds to visiting captains must be ‘anathema to Worplesdon’. It came across as sour grapes, egotistical and childlike petulance... maybe he’s Donald Trump.

Or maybe he’s not… since he has since apologised on the site and withdrawn his comments. 

Which leads to my second question: do you even know what the courtesy policy is at your club?



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Powerscourt Golf Club and 20 Years

There are lots of Irish golf clubs celebrating anniversaries this year… six are seeing in their 125th… but the age matters little to the clubs who have cause to celebrate. Ten years, 20, 25, 50… these are all opportunities to revel in a little bit of history.

This was on full display at Powerscourt a couple of weeks ago when the club launched a very impressive hardback book celebrating 20 years.  The book is not inconsequential in size, stretching to 248 pages, with hundreds of photos and contributions from many involved in the club’s evolution. It is a comprehensive piece of work. The launch, hosted by new member Craig Doyle, took place in the clubhouse with dozens present, including the Slazenger family. Indeed, the book is dedicated to Dr Michael Slazenger, the man who started the club on the grounds of the Powerscourt Estate. As speeches were made the sun lit up the two courses outside the windows, showing off the autumn colours and where the trees felled by Ophelia had long since been cleared away. This is a strong club with both courses embraced by ancient trees. Ophelia managed to snatch just five and will merit only a mere mention in a future chapter as the club looks forward to its next 20 years.

This is a major piece of work involving dozens of people and contributions from every sector, every age, every aspect of both the golf club and the estate itself. One of the members, Colman O’Neill, a stalwart from the earliest days, has amassed some 3,000 images of the club and roughly 70% of the images in the book are his.
Other clubs celebrating 20 years in 2017 include Esker Hills, Galgorm Castle, Newbridge, East Clare, and – hard to believe – Old Head. Clubs which have reached the quarter of a century milestone are Roe Park, St. Margaret’s, Waterford Castle, Charlesland, Castle Barna and Slieve Russell. 
Charlesland celebrated their anniversary with a series of golf events… but, more telling, the year also saw the completion of a €1 million investment in the course which saw a short game academy introduced and two new holes.
Views up the Powerscourt East 10th from the clubhouse
No clubs are celebrating a centenary in 2017, while the 9-hole Dunmore, in Clonakilty, is the lone club with 50 years to its name.

Congratulations to all at Powerscourt Golf Club and on the publication of 'Celebrating 20 Years'.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

125 Years - Athlone's Anniversary

Athlone Golf Club

The delicious opening tee shot at Athlone.
The course beside Hodson Bay is the third home of this Midlands club. After originating at the Batteries, an area of higher ground west of the Shannon, the club moved to Garnafailagh, before finally settling at Hodson Bay in 1938. It was through the British Army – with its many Scottish officers – that golf began at the Batteries, with officers believed to have laid out holes in these fields. Originally known as the Athlone Garrison Golf Club, the game attracted local businessmen and professionals who, in 1904, oversaw the name change to Athlone Golf Club. And it was in 1904 that one of the first legal actions took place for damages caused by a golfer… who sliced the ball and struck a passing woman.

View of the par three 2nd green from 18th tee.
The club moved to Garnafailagh in 1920, but not before club member John McCormack had won three Amateur Close Championships. He represented Ireland 24 times and, in 1924, he was selected for the Walker Cup team, although he did not play for personal reasons. Eighty years later, in 2003, Colm Moriarty became the first member to play on the Walker Cup team. but only lasted until 1938, before the course moved to Hodson Bay, where the 18 holes were designed by Mr. J McAllister. The original clubhouse was built on the lake shore.

When the clubhouse was moved to its present location on higher ground, in 1972, Fred Hawtree was brought in to re-work the layout. Further changes were made in the 1980s by none other than Eddie Hackett, and then again in the early 2000s, when Eddie Connaughton and SOL Golf Construction constructed new sand-based greens, introduced a number of water features and created a new par three 6th hole.
18th green views.
All of these changes have combined to ensure Athlone remains a strong and vibrant course. Water presses in on two sides with the 16th embraced far too tightly by the lough. The par four 13th, however, is the hole of the round and, at almost 400 metres, it is the toughest hole you’ll play in a while. From a high tee it doglegs sharply left over a series of eskers which may present a blind second shot.

Athlone 2017 Activities

The club hosted a celebration lunch for members in the Hodson Bay Hotel, in April. A Club Classic was played in May, followed by a BBQ, and an invitation team event. The club’s centenary book, written by club member, Tom Collins, received an an addendum. 

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

THE EUROPEAN CLUB SET TO HOST AIG IRISH CLOSE IN 2018

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.