|Approach to Carne's 17th hole. A tough, tough par four.|
As a golfer what’s the one thing you look forward to most in the year? There must be something, right!
The hour going forward? The first day of The Masters? Your first tee shot, whether it’s January or June? That holiday abroad? Or the arrival of your new driver? More than likely, it’s a combination of more than one of these things.
For me, over the past six years, it has been the anticipation of playing in the Atlantic Coast Challenge (ACC). The three-day tournament (3-5 July) plays over Carne, Co.Sligo and Enniscrone golf clubs and is open to all amateurs. It is links heaven, it’s a lot of fun and it is, by any stretch of the imagination, excellent value for money. Funnily enough, none of the reasons listed above enter into it for me because the ACC is about playing three of my favourite golf courses and hanging out with two great mates – one of whom comes back from New York every year to play in the event.
|My mate, Ronan, hitting in to the same 17th hole at Carne.|
Yes, it is competitive (Stableford scoring) if you want it to be but, like most of the golfers who turn up from numerous countries around the world, I tend to look at it as an opportunity to play great links courses with close friends for not a lot of money.
|The famous par five 16th at Enniscrone|
You can play the courses in any order as there are three rotas. I’ve always favoured the Co Sligo/Carne/Enniscrone rota as it’s easy to get to Co. Sligo from Dublin on the 1st day (and therefore you only need to find accommodation for two nights). Plus, the prize-giving is at Enniscrone on the final evening… not that we’ve ever been within an arse’s roar of winning anything. The cost of entry is €145. Look at the rack rate fees and you’ll appreciate that you’re paying less than 40 per cent of the regular green fees. In July!
There are over a dozen other ‘challenges’ around Ireland (from Waterford to Donegal), and I urge you to try at least one of them. It really is one of the best ways to experience many of our best courses, especially as you are more than likely to be doing it with friends. And who knows, you might win a prize (the prize fund is worth €6,000)… or you might not.
|The 17th at Co Sligo is one of the toughest holes in the country.|
Accommodation options are plentiful… but you do need to think about where you want to base yourself. The two most popular options tend to be Enniscrone (I highly recommend the Diamond Coast, which overlooks the course), or Ballina, where there are more options and a ‘town’ nightlife.
As for the ACC, you can still enter a team of three or get paired up with other golfers if you’re on your lonesome. To enter, contact +353 97 82292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Not many slots left at this stage but they're sure to accommodate you.
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