Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Druids Glen Aviva Family Tournament

Views back up the par five 5th on Druids Glen
On Tuesday 28th August, a pair of family members could be playing the majestic Druids Glen, in Co Wicklow... in a tournament that will undoubtedly prove to be a big hit. This is the first year of the Aviva Family Fourball, but it's unlikely to be the last. This sort of format will be a huge draw as will the opportunity to play one of Ireland's best parkland courses.

The prize details, format (shotgun start), cost and contact details are all outlined on the poster below so take a look, think of that family member who you haven't spoken to in years but you know is a really handy golfer...  and give them a bell.

Everything about Druids Glen is fabulous and if you need to stay overnight, then the Druids Glen Resort has been enjoying a substantial makeover and expansion in recent years.


The famous par three 12th

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Arklow to host 2018 Mellon Educate Charity Event

The Mellon Educate 3rd Annual Golf Classic will be played at Arklow Golf Club on Friday 31st August. Tee times are available between 11.50am and 3.20pm.

I've played in this the past two years and the four person Scramble format makes it huge amounts of fun. The team I was in last year won the event with a ridiculous score of 13 under, but it was never less than a blast playing with a group of friends for a good cause.

The event is run by Darren Murray who volunteers for Mellon Educate and all funds raised go towards the charity. A team of 4 costs €120. The details, with some additional images, are below.

Arklow is an under-appreciated links course with some particularly good par threes and that naturally chaotic, bumpy terrain... so visible in the pic below of the 5th below. It also has some excellent bunkering... as seen in the image below that.


It's a great day out, there are plenty of prizes and you're helping a good cause. What more could you ask for!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Driving Through The Drought: Greenkeeper Challenges

The par four 15th at Dromoland Castle
It rained yesterday. Real rain. It didn't last long but it was something few of us had seen in Ireland for over 10 weeks. In this country that's a drought and the hosepipe bans introduced 3-4 weeks ago confirmed it.

People worry about their gardens, washing their car or taking a shower rather than lounging in a bath but what about our golf courses? Carnoustie was playing faster than any course in history, according to the

Friday, July 13, 2018

Open Weeks... Slieve Russell for €30

Of all the Top Tier Irish golf courses out there, Slieve Russell offers some of the best value going. And with Open Week starting this Sunday (15th July) you can play this Paddy Merrigan-designed beauty for just €30. That's an irresistible price - seriously!

Here are the details and some photos to inspire you to make a booking. The course opened in 1992 and has matured spectacularly over the Co. Cavan rolling landscape.








The full set of my Slieve Russell images is here.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Greystones Golf Club Open Week 2018

The par three 1st - a surprisingly tricky start. (Photo
from Monday afternoon)
In my opinion, you won’t play on better greens this year. Yes, that’s a spectacular claim with the DDF Irish Open in full swing at Ballyliffin (and I played Ballyliffin’s Glashedy links on Wednesday), but I also played Greystones on Monday and the greens are running fast… scratch that… they’re like lightning. The current weather has given the course that crispy, dry feel but the greens here are always one of the club's key features, so it's not like the perfect putting surfaces are down to the recent weeks of sunshine.


And with Open Week only a few days away, you can experience my home club’s greens as well as the course where Paul Dunne played as a youngster and continues to play today.

It is a par 69 and while many think that makes it a short or easy course… don’t! Greystones will test you with its two different nines and its stand-out holes: 
Front Nine
Holes 4, 6, 7 and 8 make the front nine the more exciting and shapely of the two - the holes loop around Jones' Hill overlooking the sea and with views across to Bray Head and beyond. The picture below is of the 5th green, taken from the 6th tee. Look at those tiers! (And there will be a few tears on this hole, that I can promise you.)
Photograph from Monday afternoon
Back Nine
Holes 10, 13, 15 and 16 deliver the greatest impact on the back nine which is a more rhythmic and calmer routing through the trees. That said, I have always enjoyed the 17th (pic below) as it throws in a really tough hole late in the day. Water lies short of the shallow green and you need to be inch perfect to avoid that, as well as the bunker behind.
Ring 01-2874136 or check online at http://www.greystonesgc.com 

Entry fee is a mere €20 and this includes entry into the twos... and with five par threes you'll have plenty of chances!




Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Lough Erne – offers and events this summer

The current issue of Irish Golfer Magazine includes an article reviewing Lough Erne. Three golfers joined me in April to assess the course and there were some interesting observations. Here’s a link to the article.
The walkway to the 1st hole at Lough Erne.

If you fancy some golf on a big and plush parkland (lakeland) course, the resort is running a variety of offers and competitions. Don’t say you don’t have ample opportunity… and the restaurant in the hotel is sensational - it really is something very special indeed.


1. DAY OFFERS
2-BALL SUMMER OFFER- From only £99
4-BALL SUMMER OFFER- From only £195

2. STAY & PLAY
Experience championship golf this Summer on The Faldo Course with a luxury overnight stay at Lough Erne Resort and indulgent breakfast the following morning with use of the

Monday, July 2, 2018

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Qualifier concluded

The battle is over... but the war has just begun! All 122 Irish Open hopefuls arrived at Rosapenna (Sandy Hills), looking for one of four berths to play in the main event this week... not to mention a winner's cheque for €6,000. They had perfect links conditions but the cream still rose to the top as Simon Thornton, Neil O'Briain, Colm Moriarty and Cian McNamara claimed their Dubai Duty Free Irish Open places.

PGA in Ireland regional manager, Michael McCumiskeyJohn Casey, Director,
Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort, Cian McNamara
Colm Moriarty,
Neil O'BriainSimon ThorntonRosapenna 2018 captain, Liam Breen.

Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) edged out Neil O'Briain (Old Conna GC) on the

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin

Approach to the par four 1st
There is a constant string of news about the Irish Open being held in Ballyliffin next week. That's no surprise as it's a not only a huge event for the European Tour (their $7 million Rolex Series), it's also a massive occasion in Donegal, where Ballyliffin's General Manager, John Farren, compared it to hosting the World Cup. Here's the latest press release... which provides a perfect opportunity to show off the Glashedy Links in photographs.

Lowry excited ahead of homecoming at Ballyliffin
SHANE Lowry cannot wait to return to his homeland when the former champion arrives at

Friday, June 29, 2018

Miracles at Belmullet - Carnage and Celebration at Carne, Part 2

Approach to Carne's 6th from the right hand side.
Here is Part 2 of Mike Considine's Carne story (You can read Part 1, here).

But then, in a moment, as often occurs in golf, something happened.  Things changed.  It was a moment that would define the weekend.

After five perfect holes, on the 6th tee, Finian slightly pulled another prodigious drive. But this time, the wind carried his ball perilously close to the out-of-bounds marker on the left side of the fairway. [which is no longer there, Ed.]  We thought there was a good chance that his ball stayed in bounds. Finian then proceeded to hit a provisional drive which proved a dead pull hook about 100 yards left of his first.  Out of bounds.  We grimaced. Then he hit

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Miracles at Belmullet - Carnage and Celebration at Carne

As the Atlantic Coast Challenge draws near (9-11 July) it's time to post a wonderful tale of golf that was emailed to me by American, Mike Considine. Mike has some special memories of playing in Ireland and playing at Carne in particular. As you'll deduce from the opening sentence, Mike and his friends met the South African golfer, Wayne Westner, in Belmullet. Here is Part 1:
The 8th green at Carne (clubhouse to the right)
The recent passing of the South African golfer Wayne Westner prompted a search of dusty boxes containing materials from old Irish golf tours.  I was looking for a particular file.  The year was 2000, and, in our new springtime tradition, I and a few college friends were preparing for a golfing trip to Ireland, the Green Isle.  Unlike many links purists, we had not included Scotland on our itinerary.  Scotland was never our focus.  With a nod perhaps to our Irish heritage, our group's links lust centered on the courses introduced to the world by the siren call of Herbert Warren Wind in Sports Illustrated, and the stirring prose of Irish writer Dermot Gilleece. Ballybunion, Lahinch, Waterville and regal Royal County Down -- these were the courses that lit our imagination.  My very first round of Irish golf had been at Ballybunion Old in 1987, where I was greeted in the unassuming clubhouse by a friendly dog, and escorted around the course by an affable caddy named Eric Glasper.  The modest old clubhouse, now replaced by an imposing edifice, featured a large wall

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mount Juliet - The New Hunter's Yard Hotel

It’s not often you’ll find two hotels in one resort… but then again, it’s not often you’ll find somewhere as astoundingly beautiful as Mount Juliet
Hunter’s Yard is a ‘new’ four star hotel of modern flourishes and calm sophistication. It will complement the five star luxury of Mount Juliet House, perfectly. The distance between them is a few hundred metres but Hunter’s Yard is right next to the new clubhouse and golf course. It surrounds the old courtyard and is a combination of renovation and inspiration. If you remember the leisure centre or the

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Irish Kids Golf Tour Hits it Big

Charlie Symth (10) & Erin Symth (8)
The more the merrier, I say. It is excellent news for Irish golf that we continue to focus on our younger golfers and, alongside training camps during the Easter and summer holidays, various competitions and Get into Golf type programmes, there are efforts to give kids a competitive environment in which to challenge themselves, enhance their skills and make new friends.  It’s all part and parcel of helping these kids fall in love with the game. If we can generate that kind of passion and commitment early on, then we will see many of them playing golf for decades... and that's

Carton House - Media Day Sunshine

The short par four 13th on the O'Meara.
I have now played the Media Day at Carton House, three years in a row. The weather has been erratic and gone as follows:

Year 2016: a scorcher (O'Meara)
Year 2017: strong winds, lots of rain... and played from the back tees (Montgomerie)
Year 2018: a scorcher (O'Meara)

It's hard to believe that two courses so close together can be so different but it does mean visitors have considerable choice and variety. That said, the Montgomerie is a tough course and you don't need

Monday, June 11, 2018

Co Kerry's Best 18 Golf Holes

Waterville's 'Tranquility' (par five 11th)
It’s never easy picking an ‘18 best holes’ selection… or the top 100 courses for that matter. There are so many factors involved and it’s a real scrum when it comes to pulling out the final 18.
Co. Kerry is a perfect example of this. I mean, Ballybunion, Tralee and Waterville are three links rated in the top 100 courses in the world, so how do you choose holes from anywhere else? And yet there’s Dooks, Killarney’s two courses, Ceann Sibeal and Hog’s Head to add to the mix.
Fortunately, the Irish Examiner gave me the opportunity to produce two 18s: the overall

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Carnoustie Country in Destination Golf

Sometimes you get lucky. Trips to Scotland are a bonus of monumental proportions for an Irish golf writer and visiting Carnoustie Country was particularly special as things ramp up ahead of the Open Championship, this July.

When we visited in April, the stands were already going up and golfers off the 1st tee were rattling their drives into the notorious Barry Burn, on the left of the fairway, or into the stands on the right, behind the 16th green (seen on the left in the photo below). It's nothing like as generous as the 1st hole at St Andrew's but those butterflies in your stomach as you prepare to make your first swing are just as busy.

To read about the area, the beautiful courses on offer (many you won't know) and some of the best gin and whiskey you'll ever taste, take a look at this month's edition of Destination Golf. Click on the link and the

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

World Amateur Team Championships 2018 - 100 Days

The countdown is on to the world’s biggest amateur team golf event… and it’s in Ireland.
It is just under 100 days until the World Amateur Team Championships tee off at Carton House on 29th August. The Championships are coming to Ireland for the first time in their history and the two tournaments – the Eisenhower Trophy (men) and Espirito Santo Trophy (women) – will see top amateur golfers from over 72 countries competing over the Montgomerie and O’Meara courses.
The view of Carton House from the 18th green (Montgomerie)
These Championships are the breeding ground of many for the most famous names in golf. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy have fought for the Eisenhower Trophy, a tournament which dates back to 1958. The Espirito Santo Trophy came a few years later, in 1964, and Suzann Pettersen, Paula

Friday, May 18, 2018

Flogas Irish Amateur Open Royal County Down

Royal County Down
Views back down the par four 5th at Royal
County Down at sunrise
I have been extremely fortunate to play Royal County Down twice in the past month. Both times it was a fine day and the gorse was in full bloom. I took photographs by the dozen - if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you'll have seen numerous shots - and played some half decent golf. This is, after all, not a course where you want to be playing anything less than half decent golf because balls disappear into deep rough and gorse in the blink of an eye, and blind shots will bamboozle you.

On the other hand, if you're the No. 37 ranked amateur in the world you're unlikely to be worrying about losing balls and be far more concerned with making birdies.

On Tuesday, I played with Kristoffer Reitan, from Norway. Accompanied by Marcus - his caddie, coach and former Pro golfer himself - they are aiming for big things by year end. Kristoffer is 19 years old, is long off the tee (he drove the par four 16th, 337 yards) and has the short game to make it if his ambitions bear fruit. It was a privilege to play with such a talented young man. He made three birdies and few mistakes... and those he did make he recovered from. His first visit to one of the dreaded bunkers was followed by a 150 yard shot from the sand onto the green.
Kristoffer Reitan tees off on the par four 2nd at Royal County Down
And after Round 1 of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open he's in a strong position. A 2 under par 69 has him in joint 4th. A certain Robin Dawson, from Tramore, blew the course away with a 65, but there's a long way to go yet... starting today. (All Round 1 scores are below.)
Kristoffer tees off on the par three 4th.
Round one scores 

Flogas Irish Amateur Open
Royal County Down

65 R Dawson (Tramore)
68 A Fitzpatrick (England); A Gleeson  (Castle)
69 J Skov Olesen (Denmark); M Saulez (South Africa); D Hague (England); M Jordan (England); D Rauch (Germany); R Cannon (Balbriggan); K Reitan (Norway); A Wilson (England)
70 G Collins (Rosslare); J Hapgood (Wales); B Gill (England); S Watts (Cairndhu); C Thornton (England); N Bachem (Germany)
71 P O'Keeffe (Douglas); C Woollam (South Africa); R Mullarney (Galway); G Bloor (England); A Hill (Athenry); J Fox (Portmarnock); J Gough (England); T Nel (South Africa); G Chevalier (France); J Wilson (Scotland); D Langley (England); P Brennan (Belvoir Park); P Melching (Netherlands)
72 L Sanges (Wales); E Walker (Scotland); L Shepherd (England); M Hammer (Germany); C Barrow (Scotland); C Strickland (England); E McIntosh (Scotland); M Mitchell  (South Africa); J Sugrue (Mallow)
73 C Mansfield (South Africa); T Carter (England); J Brady (Rosslare); T Vaillant (France); Q Debove (France); J Cope (England); R Williams   (England); R Brazill (Naas); J Yates (Naas); J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little); N Poppleton (England); D Brophy (Castleknock); B Hutchinson (England); F Hanisch (Germany); C Denvir (Elm Park); B Chamberlain (Wales); J Schaper (South Africa); J Pierse (Portmarnock)
74 C Lamprecht (South Africa); F Carr (Kirkistown Castle); R Neergaard-Petersen (Denmark); M Norton (Belvoir Park); J Mis (England); A Maguire (Laytown & Bettystown); T Vahlenkamp (Germany); A Edwards-Hill (England); A Petit (France); C Rafferty (Dundalk); J Sundborg (England); S Done (England); B Anderson (The Royal Dublin); K Cantley  (Scotland); S Easton (Scotland); T Clements (England); J Davies (Wales); B McKenzie (England)
75 B Jones (England); M Waite (England); C Farr (England); R Williamson (Holywood); D Germishuys (South Africa); J McMahon (England); D Howie (Scotland); J Johnston (Scotland); G Lenehan (Portmarnock); R Foley (Switzerland); A Flanagan (England); A Grant (Dundalk); M Martin (England)
76 S Locke (Scotland); A Plumb (England); O Huggins (England); R Moran (Castle); D McAleenon (Edenmore); J Glenn (England); R Pierse (Grange); T Thurloway (England); D Brown (England); J de Bruyn (Germany); H Goddard (England)
77 J Madden (Royal Portrush); J Whelan (Newlands); P Coughlan (Castleknock); M Ryan (New Ross); N Muller (France); W Nienaber (South Africa); J Bolton (England); M Power (Kilkenny)
78 A McDougall (Scotland); A Laussot (France); K Egan (Carton House); T Plumb (England); J Gaunt (England); H Foley (The Royal Dublin); L Abrial (France); R Dutton (Tandragee); G Petrozzi (England); E Farrell (Ardee); P Mullins (Wales); T McLarnon (Massereene)
79 R Black (Hilton Templepatrick); D Coghlan (Portmarnock); J Fletcher (Warrenpoint); D Mary (France); T Sloman (England)
80 E Smith (Laytown & Bettystown); O Crooks (Bushfoot); D Kitt (Athenry); W Porter (Scotland)
81 J Walsh (Castle); W Small (Tandragee); G Frimodt (Denmark); M Lamb (England); T Shin (England)
82 D McNeill (Scotland); J Paterson (Scotland); C Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire)
83 R Knightly (The Royal Dublin)
86 M d'Harcourt (France)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Which is Ireland’s Best Golfing Bar?

The Wicklow Wolf Golf Championship at Druids Glen aims to answer that question.
Now, this is a smart gem of a marketing idea. What better way to promote your beer – and Wicklow Wolf is one of the best craft breweries out there (if you haven’t tried the Elevation Pale Ale, it’s heaven) – than doing a tie-in with Ireland’s most thrilling parkland course. For golfers, it’s the best of both worlds. 
Approach to the par four 15th
The first ever Wicklow Wolf Golf Championship will be held at Druids Glen Golf Club on Thursday 26th April.
The competition has been set up to find Ireland’s best golfing bar and is open to teams of two, male and females over the age of 18, who will represent their local bar or pub. The maximum handicap allowances men 28 and ladies 36.
The par three 17th. You might need a touch of Wicklow Wolf to calm your
nerves before teeing off on this beast.
On the day there will be two separate shotgun starts one at 9am and one at 2pm. I don’t envy those golfers who find themselves starting at the 13th or the 17th… or the 18th for that matter. All brilliant holes but utter knee-tremblers too.
The entry fee is €200 per team which includes complimentary range balls, a goody bag including Wicklow Wolf Pale Ale, dinner and prize-giving.
The par three 8th at Druids Glen
The winners will receive a special Wicklow Wolf Golf Championship winner flag to fly from their local bar, the Championship Trophy (to be held for one year), a golf outing for 20 people at Druids Glen, complimentary PGA professional golf clinic and three kegs of Wicklow Wolf Pale Ale for the local pub or bar entered.
Tasty prizes, yes!
To enter contact Druids Glen Golf Club, 01 287 0812 or email aaron.byrne@druidsglenresort.com.
Participants will be notified of their starting hole following the draw that will take place on 25th April. Fingers crossed it’s not one of the three mentioned above.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Masters 2018 Day 1

A few bits and pieces from the opening days of the Masters.
Par three tournament
Tom Watson is the oldest winner by seven years (over Sam Snead, 1974), at 68. He birdied the first four holes and doesn’t have to worry about the curse that befalls the winner of the

The Appeal of the Sports Capital Programme

Slade Valley Golf Club appealed successfully and received
€97,760 for grass cutting equipment.
Do you ever have one of those days when the news just gets your blood boiling - especially when it's something you're so very passionate about. 
But there are two sides to every story.
The Sports Capital Programme appeal process was finalised last month and, immediately afterwards, Sinn Fein Deputy (Imelda Munster) started banging her drum about how unfair the funding allocations had been. Golf clubs was a key target of her ire. What was so infuriating was that she was tarring every golf club with the same brush: namely that they are elitist establishments not deserving of tax-payers money. It is clear from

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

County Cork's 18 Best Golf Holes

County Cork has 24 eighteen hole golf courses... picking the best 18 isn't easy... but in today's Irish Examiner that is what I attempt to do. You'll find the full article/rationale here, but here are some photographs to give you a taste

1. Mitchelstown, par four 4th, 357/340 metres














2.  Douglas, par four 17th, 360/351 metres
 













3. Castlemartyr, par three 5th, 211/189 yards
 













4. Old Head, par four 2nd, 388/376 yards
  













5. Skibbereen, par four 13th, 350/335 yards















6. Old Head, par five 12th, 554/537 yards














7. Cork, par four 16th, 322/300 yards
















8. Cobh, par three 10th, 167/149 yards
















9. Lee Valley, par five 15th, 535/525 yards
10. Monkstown, par four 10th, 315/284 metres














11. Cork, Par five 5th, 552/510 yards














12. Fermoy, par four 13th, 420/390 metres














13. Fota Island, par four 6th, 357/330 yards
 













14. Macroom, par four 9th, 369/357 metres 
15. Mallow, par five 3rd, 448/439 metres

16. Mahon, par four 5th, 336/325 metres



  











17. Water Rock, par three 12th, 219/155 yards














18. Fota Island, par five 18th, 507/479 yards