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

Friday, March 23, 2018

Masters Magic, Irish Style

Dooks... and a whole lot of spectacular scenery. 
As the Masters approaches and the golf world goes wild we have all established how, when and where we’ll be watching the first and – let’s be honest – the most exciting of the four Majors.

Irish golf clubs have embraced Augusta with their own Masters magic and here are three events that you can participate in… at Esker Hills, Galway Bay and Dooks.

Esker Hills
The event started three years ago in 2015, to celebrate Shane’s first appearance in

Thursday, March 22, 2018

King's Cup 2018 - The Qualifiers start at Westport

Westport's par three 9th.
The International King's Cup is kicking off again this weekend with a qualifier event in each province. If you’re free to play as a pair you should seriously consider entering as the ‘final’ is a Ryder Cup styled three-day match-play event between a team from the United States and a team from Ireland. The tournament, in honour of golf’s greatest ambassador, Mr. Arnold Palmer, will be played on the Faldo Course at the 5-star luxury Lough Erne Resort, in County Fermanagh, from Monday 14th to Friday 18th May.
A unique feature of the competition is that it gives players of all ages and abilities an opportunity to play for Ireland. The road to qualification for Irish Golfers begins by qualifying from the first of four provincial qualifiers, with the Connacht event staged in Westport on Saturday 24th March. From this event, 16 golfers (8 pairs) will go forward to compete in a final qualifying stage to be played on the Lough Erne Resort in County Fermanagh on Sunday 15 April, where all 32 pairs from the four qualifiers go head-to-head. From this a 16 man Irish team to play the USA shall be selected.
There are two age brackets from which the two-man teams can qualify to secure a spot on the Irish team: Age 18+ and Senior 50+. See Rules of Play below.
Westport's par three 14th hits straight at Croagh Patrick.
Liam Friel and John Collins are two players who went on to qualify for the final from the Westport event and they played a significant role in helping Ireland retain the Cup in 2017.
Amateur golfers from across Ireland should really get involved for this year’s qualifiers as the final is a grand affair. Full details are on the Westport Golf Club website at www.westportgolfclub.ie. Booking can be done through BRS or by contacting the clubhouse at 098 28262.

The other three provincial qualifiers are:

Munster Qualifier – Ennis Golf Club: Saturday 31st March

Leinster Qualifier – Dunmurry Springs Golf Club: Sunday 8th April

Ulster Qualifier – Lough Erne Resort: Saturday 7th April

Visit the club websites or make a call to book your spot.   

Rules of Play

Format: The format for play is fourball stroke play as defined in Rule 31 per the USGA® Rules of Golf in which two players play as partners, each playing their own ball. The lower score of the partners is the score for the hole. If one partner fails to complete the hole there is no penalty.
Amateurs Only: International Kings cup is open ONLY to amateur golfers holding an official GUI handicap.

Teams: Teams in the Irish Team Qualifiers may be formed by any combination of male participants (18 years or older).

Divisions: There are two divisions - Open Division and Senior Division.  The Open Division is open to all ages. The Senior Division is for Players 50 years of age and above prior to the provincial qualifier. A player that is 50+ is allowed to compete in the Open division, but a player that is under 50 is not allowed to compete in the Senior Division.

Flights: Each Division has four flights. Championship, A-Flight, B-Flight and C-Flight.
Flight Handicaps 
·       Championship 4.9 or less
·       A Flight             5.0-9.9
·       B Flight             10.0-14.9
·       C Flight            15.0 and above

A Team Handicap is determined by totaling the handicap index of player A and player B together and dividing it in half. Example - Player A is a 10 handicap and player B is a 15 handicap totaling 25. Divide the total of 25 in half and the Team Handicap is 12.5. That team would be in the "B" Flight.

No team can have a handicap differential of more than 8 strokes between teammates. For example - a player that is a 10 handicap cannot play with a player that is a 24 handicap, unless that player drops his handicap down from a 24 to 18. Their team handicap would be 10+18=28/2 = 14.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Are golf fans getting too boisterous?

Following Rory McIlroy's comments yesterday about fans' boorish behaviour, here's a recent article I wrote for the Irish Examiner. It followed Justin Thomas's intervention to get a fan ejected at the Honda Classic (22-25 February).

In the final round, Justin Thomas hit his tee shot on the 16th hole only for a fan to shout ‘get in the bunker’ as the ball was in the air. 

Who said that?” Thomas asked. “Was that you? Enjoy your day, buddy, you’re gone.

And so the fan was ejected.

Afterwards, Thomas said that as he approached the tee box the fan yelled, “I hope you hit it in the water.” This was then followed by the bunker taunt.

I was like, OK, I’ve had enough,” Thomas told reporters. “I just turned around and asked who it was, and he didn’t want to say anything, now that I had actually acknowledged him. So he got to leave a couple holes early.
“I don’t want to kick someone out just to kick them out. It’s just so inappropriate. We’re out here trying to win a tournament.
Twitter went into overdrive calling Thomas’s reaction excessive… many were vitriolic

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 Courses 2018 vs. Irish Golfer Top 100

Royal Portrush... No. 2 in both lists.
Finally Golf Digest Ireland (GDI) have released their Top 100 golf courses for 2018. We've been waiting a while! Especially as the Irish Golfer magazine Top 100 came out in November. Two Irish magazines going head to head is very refreshing indeed.

There are surprisingly few changes in GDI's 2018 results - compared to 2017 - so I have included these when setting the two rankings side by side below.

I  have highlighted the courses where there are interesting variations (in green) and

Monday, March 5, 2018

St Patrick's Day Irish Golf 2018

Portumna Golf Club
St Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend this year and now that Ireland have beaten Wales in the rugby – and assuming the Scots don’t pull off another upset – Saturday 17th  will see Ireland playing against England for a chance to claim the Grand Slam. Fabulous… but first and far more importantly there’s the matter of when and where you’ll be playing golf. Alternatively, head to Tramore Golf Club for the their 11-hole shotgun start, timed so that everyone can return to the clubhouse in time for kick-off and a bite to eat. (Smart thinking, that!)

Clubs always have open events on the 17th, but because it falls on a Saturday in 2018 it means you can expect Open events on Sunday and Monday, too. So sort yourself

Friday, March 2, 2018

Shining a Major Light on Ireland's North West

Carne Golf Links, Co. Mayo
Multi-major winning golf legends check out Irish Golf links courses

When Tom Watson visited Ireland’s south west many years ago he found golf courses few around the world knew much about. He loved the place and put Ireland on the map when he raved about it back in the USA. And so began the pilgrimage to courses now on every golfer’s bucket list.

Such fabled stories are few and far between these days as Ireland is regarded as one of the best golf destinations in the world. That doesn’t mean, however, that all courses get equal billing. Golf marketing company, North & West Coast Links Golf Ireland, has been promoting the courses that dazzle along the coastline from Galway Bay,