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Or maybe he’s not… since he has since apologised on the site and withdrawn his comments.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