Sunday, December 22, 2019

Top 10 Golf Course Photos of 2019

It was a busy year with the camera in hand so here are my ten top golf course photos of the year… in no particular order.
1. Dun Laoghaire Golf Club
You can’t deny that the Dun Laoghaire clubhouse is one of the most impressive in the country and two of the course’s nines (there are three loops here) finish below that clubhouse. Their fairways rise non-stop towards the grand modern building and this is the par five 9th on the Lower course. Dun Laoghaire is maturing beautifully and this shot captures some of that.

2. Royal Portrush Golf Club
The 15th (formerly the 13th before Ebert’s pre-Open Championship changes) at Royal Portrush

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Christmas Golf Gifts for 2019

It's about this time that trying to find a gift for the golfer in your life starts to become a challenge. There's little point going for the 'funny' gadget (the amusement wears off 2 seconds later) so here's a list of items at varying prices that should suit your needs and your budget.
Padraig Harrington, at Dunnes Stores
There is a growing array of Padraig Harrington apparel at Dunnes Stores these days, from knitted tops, socks and chinos to soft shell jackets and gilets. There are 22 items in all and you’ll find them at the 145 stores around Ireland. There really is no excuse if you’re running out of ideas. Try the Blue Quarter Zip Funnel Neck, which is created from a cotton-blend for a sumptuously soft way to layer up on the golf course. Price €35.

The Caddy Guy
It’s great to see some Irish innovation in golf clothing. The Caddy Guy offers an exciting clothing line including shirts, beanies, caps, gilets and jumpers. What sets this Co. Kerry company apart is the focus on natural materials. The Caddy Guy is the only Irish brand to use bamboo as it is the softest textile on the market, extremely durable, flexible and biologically beneficial. Several golf clubs – including Ceann Sibeal, Galway Bay and Killarney – are stocking the garments.

James Sheehy runs the company and his clothing range continues to grow. 

Most golf clubs will provide green fee vouchers of some description so if someone you love (or just like) has a hankering to play a particular course, phone up the club and ask what vouchers are available. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions.
Mount Juliet
The home of next year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open offers a range of gift vouchers, should you feel inclined to encourage the golfer in your life to play the Jack Nicklaus-designed Mount Juliet. Or how about lessons? There’s a special offer which may add a little flavour: there will be a gift included for the first 30 x 1 Hour Trackman Lesson Vouchers purchased through Mount Juliet’s golf shop. Contact the shop on 056 777 3071. 
For the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, 27-31 May 2020, tickets are already available with prices up to €95. A pass for access from Wednesday to Sunday costs just €83. Tickets can be sent as an email PDF making it the easiest Christmas gift to wrap.

Fota Island
Fota Island has a stream of 12 Days of Christmas offers with golf very much to the fore. Academy Membership plus Four Lessons for €800 offers a saving of €200. Alternatively, for €120, you can purchase two green fees with clubhouse burgers. At summer rates that’s a saving of €155. There are plenty of gift vouchers available too. 
Contact 021 488 3700

GUI National Golf Academy
The GUI National Golf Academy at Carton House has numerous packages available for golfers looking to improve their game. There are long game and short game clinics, half hour and longer lessons and, of course, monetary vouchers for those who want to choose exactly how they spend their time. 
There is a special offer running at the moment: Two Hour Clinic, One Day Pass and Half Hour Lesson. This consists of 3 elements:

1. Choose from one of the two-hour Group Clinics (Trackman Long Game Clinic or Trackman Pitching & Wedge Play Clinic or Greenside & Bunker Play Clinic);
2. Work on any part of your game with a 30-minute private lesson with an Academy Professional;
3. Enjoy a full day of practice at the Academy with unlimited range balls and short game area access.
Visit www.bettergolf.iecall 01 5054040 or email for further details
Cost €100 (a saving of €90)

For the best club custom fitting around, Fore Golf at Killeen Castle has established a worldwide reputation. If you want to get golfers into the swing of things, you could start by purchasing an online voucher. Buy the One Hour Custom Fit voucher which reviews a golfer’s clubs for €100, provides a performance comparison of new custom clubs against the golfer’s existing set and uses TrackMan4. 
Alternatively, the 30 Minute Single New Club session is a treat for the golfer looking to work on one club (excluding the putter) that isn’t hitting the high notes. The voucher costs €150 which includes a €100 deposit towards purchasing a new club. 
Purchase it on your phone and have it emailed to your inbox. How easy is that.

Links & Lakes Spring Championship, 27-28 March 2020
This two day tournament sees golfers playing Dooks and Killarney (Mahony’s Point) Golf Clubs. This is a great way to get a group of golfers together – or even one golfer – to experience two of the superb courses in Co. Kerry. Packages range from golf and dinner (€120pp) to golf and DB&B accommodation (€299) at Killarney’s four star Castlerosse Park Resort.
Email: to book.
Views from Dooks 
Seed Golf
The only Irish producer of golf balls, Seed Golf has been extending its range this year. A new golf ball has been added (the Pro Yellow SD-01 features an ‘Adularescence Fluorescence’ cover finish which may prove invaluable in the snow!), and a few extras have also joined the line-up: beanies, baseball caps, a flat cap and tee bag are now available, costing from €7 to €20.
On the golf ball front, Seed Golf provides golfers with a high quality ball that can be purchased online in innovative ways. Boxes of a dozen cost between €10 and €25.

The Irish Putter

Aidhm – R-Series Blade Putter

Back in 2014, Master Clubmaker Peter Doyle had a vision of creating Ireland’s first bespoke putter brand. By 2018, he had produced his second generation Aidhm putter, the R Series Blade.  Aidhm (pronounced “I-AM”) comes from the Irish word meaning “To Take Aim” and is a Tour Grade putter head which is CNC-Machined from one block of carbon steel. This ensures unprecedented feel and consistency. What’s more you are buying Irish.

For prices, contact Peter on 051 644 721

Sunwise Shades
It may not feel like quite the right time of year to be putting sunnies under the Christmas tree, but a golfer needs to protect his or her eyes. The Sunwise Blenheim Black sunglasses are perfect for any golfer. Unique polarised lenses help eliminate glare and the sunglasses are lightweight and strong. The Polafusion lenses are designed to improve your play and will make greens easier to read while also making it easier to follow your ball in flight. They are made in Britain. Buy them direct online, or try Halpenny Golf or Gleeson Sport Scene in Limerick ( 
Cost €80 approx.

Shoe Joy
At the other end of the scale we have Irish weather in winter (and the rest of the year…) when wet days and wetter shoes are guaranteed. The Drysure Shoe Dryers absorb moisture quickly thanks to silica oxide beads which are placed inside a foot-shaped holder. No heat, electricity or batteries required as the beads absorb the moisture from the moment the dryers are inserted. They last between six and ten uses before they need to be reactivated, by putting them in the oven. Cosy!
Cost €30

Relive The Open Championship
Relive the memories of one of the greatest Irish victories in Open Championship history by purchasing something branded with the Royal Portrush Golf Club crest. Shane Lowry winning on Irish soil lifted the nation so give the golfer in your life a lift with any number of high quality products… from head covers and ball markers to caps, shirts and sweaters.

In The Bag
Buying a lightweight golf bag can be a significant motivator for the golfer who prefers not to lug a big bag and trolley around when nipping out to play a few holes. The Jack White canvas bags take up to eight golf clubs and come in various colour combinations. They can be made to order, too. Order online.
Cost €120 approx, plus shipping

The Perfect Strike
New to the market this year and the winner of Best New Product at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show, in Florida, AcuStrikeGolf is a golf training aid. It is remarkably simple and inexpensive (compared to the many other training aids out there), and it give golfers instant feedback on their ball strike and swing path. This will enable golfers to make instant changes and help them understand their swing. Buy online.
Cost from €50 approx.

Stamp On It
I was given one of these earlier this year and all of my golf balls are now adorned with an indelible stamp of a green shamrock. With over 150 designs you shouldn’t need to worry about playing the wrong ball ever again, and your mates will just think you’re applying lipstick. 
Cost from €9.95 (free shipping)

Bioflow Sport Flex Wristband

The Bioflow Sport Flex Wristband is chosen by many of the world’s leading athletes as an integral part of their training and recovery programmes. This durable, waterproof silicone wristband incorporates a patented Central Reverse Polarity magnet technology and is designed to improve blood flow, help reduce inflammation and restore the body’s own natural pH levels by assisting the removal of free-radicals. It all sounds quite complicated but Lee Westwood describes the band as “a valuable part of my game”. Bioflow Sport conforms with the highly regarded Medical Devices Directive and has approval as a Class 1 Medical Device in Europe.
Cost €30

Volvik V1 Laser Rangefinder 

Volvik may take the prize when it comes to brightly coloured balls (think Bubba Watson) but now they’ve extended further into the golf world with the launch of their new Volvik V1 Laser Rangefinder. Available in orange or mint the rangefinder has quite a few extras including a ‘Slope Compensation’ mode which takes elevation changes into account. It also has a six times magnification and measures distances from 5 to 1,200 yards. Waterproof and lightweight golfers will have no excuses for coming up short. (ships to Ireland) 
Cost €230 approx.

Several books came out this year with very different characters at the heart of them. The biggest cheat in the game – allegedly – is the subject of one, while another focuses on the greatest golfer of all time. See if you can guess which is which.

Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, by Rick Reilly

Rick Reilly has played golf with Donald Trump. That should be enough to make this book authentic but Reilly has gone digging and found some intriguing stories. Trump claims to have won 18 club championships – all at Trump properties – and yet one championship was at a course that hadn’t even opened, while another was won on a day when Trump was playing golf somewhere else entirely. When rocker Alice Cooper was asked who the biggest cheat in golf was, he said: “I played golf with Donald Trump one time. That's all I'm going to say."
www.books.ieCost €16.99

Tiger Woods, by Jeff Benedict, 
Once and probably still the most recognisable face in sport, Tiger Woods has experienced a career of the highest highs and the lowest lows. This is the full story of his life and it’s of the warts-and-all variety. Jeff Benedict is a New York Times bestselling author, a special features writer for Sports Illustrated, and a television and film producer. 

Available from Easons 
Cost €15.40

The Meaning of Golf, by Craig Morrison
Morrison offers a wise and witty journey into the world of golf. Tiger Woods is the subject of one chapter, Tom Watson – in an exclusive interview - is the subject of another. The Presidents of the United States have a chapter to themselves too. Anyone interested in the game of golf, its history, its great champions and championships should love this book. Craig Morrison has previously written, produced and published two golf books, 18 Greatest Scottish Golf Holes and 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes.
Available on
Cost €12.00 approx.

The Golf Lover's Guide to Scotland, by Michael Whitehead

Universally regarded as the birthplace of the modern game, Scotland can boast some of the finest courses in the world. This guide offers the golfer everything they need to enjoy a great round of golf at the best courses Scotland has to offer. You will find all the essential information you need here - par scores, yardage, prices, booking procedure, history and how best to play the course.

Cost €14.00

Golf Magazines
And don't forget the new breed of golf magazines and their subscription based set-up

Click HERE for my reviews

I hope you find something you like that will bring a little golfing joy into someone's life.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Golf's New Magazines (Part 3 of 3)

Golf Turns the Page

The third magazine to be covered in this three part series is an interesting hybrid of origins.

Part 3

Country of Origin: USA (sort of)
First Issue: May 2018
Frequency: Occasional
Size: 100 pages
Podcast: Yes

McKellar was founded by the longtime Guardian correspondent, author and Scotsman, Lawrence Donegan, and Thomas Dunne, a golf writer and golf architect aficionado. Its evolution is best told by Dunne:
“I'm sure Lawrence would agree that Lorne Rubenstein of the Globe & Mail is kind of the spiritual godfather of McKellar. Back in 2006, when I was at Travel & Leisure Golf, Lorne and I went out for a long lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. We had this great conversation about developing a more thoughtful, literary breed of golf magazine – something that readers would return to over months and years, rather than flip through idly and then pitch in the recycling. Well, it turned out that Lorne had been having that conversation with other writers, including Lawrence, and when he approached me about it toward the end of 2016 we were immediately reading from the same hymn sheet in terms of the stuff that mattered.

“What really unites us,” Dunne continues, “is that all of us believe that print – even

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Golf's New Magazines (Part 2 of 3)

Golf Turns The Page

In the second part of this series, we look at the first and biggest of the new breed.

Part 2

The Golfer’s Journal
Origin: California, USA
First Issue: August 2017
Frequency: Quarterly
Size: 140 pages
Podcast: Yes

The Golfer’s Journal has certainly set new standards in how we look at golf and how it appeals to us. The magazine’s tagline – Golf in its Purest Form – means the magazine bypasses short game tips and equipment features and goes straight to the heart of the game. You won’t find this

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Golf's New Magazines (Part 1 of 3)

Golf Turns the Page
That gentle scrape of paper on paper is a sound that drifts back to childhood, be it a book or a magazine or even an encyclopaedia… not that you’ll find many of those on bookshelves anymore. 
Despite the onset of the Internet and the cut and thrust of social media there’s still nothing quite like picking up a magazine and poring over it at your leisure. Traditional golf magazines may be struggling but that hasn’t stopped some entrepreneurial golfers and publishers targeting niche markets where

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Congratulations Mount Juliet - DDF Irish Open 2020 Hosts

The par three 11th at Mount Juliet
It isn't that big a surprise... Mount Juliet have just been awarded the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2020, to be held between 28-31 May.

The change in dates (from 2 weeks before the Open Championship) has certainly allowed parklands more opportunity to host an event that was veering towards links exclusivity. The K Club (2016) is

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Very Irish Partnership

A New Strategic Partnership Has Eyes To The East.
The role that Irish golf plays on the world stage is easy to gauge when you consider the recent list of winners in the Majors. 2019 has been a big year for this island, capped off with Shane Lowry’s Open win at Royal Portrush, not to mention the announcement that the Ryder Cup will be held at Adare in 2026. That will come 20 years after the huge success of the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club.
The challenge is to ensure that Ireland continues to benefit from all of this positivity and luring visiting golfers to these shores is a great place to start. Ireland’s south-west has long attracted golfers from North America but the entire island has seen increasing numbers since the disasters of 2008. According to Tourism Ireland, 2018 was the best year ever for overseas tourism to the island of Ireland, with revenue generated by international visitors estimated at €6.1 billion. This is an increase of 10% on 2017, with record numbers arriving from North America, Continental Europe, Australia and, crucially, emerging markets. 

The par three 8th on the K Club Palmer course
Fairways & FunDays, the leading Irish golf tour operator, is among those companies bringing

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Farnham Estate Resort - In The House

Farnham Estate’s new clubhouse opened earlier this year. Subtle, sympathetic and functional, the single-storey building fits easily into its environment and greatly enhances what the entire resort has to offer.
The cool stone gives a calming reassurance as you stroll through the car park. The new building is not big and fancy like so many of the clubhouses built during the boom. Instead, it is, as they say, fit-for-purpose while still being sympathetic to its surroundings. There is only one level and the layout is as simple as can be: Pro shop to your

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Ireland's Toughest 18 Golf Holes

The 17th at Carne. Beauty and the beast!
You won’t break 70. You probably won’t even break 90. But it will break your heart. Here’s an 18-hole golf course made up of the toughest that Ireland has to offer. 
These are holes where any and every golfer will be delighted to walk off with a nett par… where there is a sense of fear stepping onto the tee… where you wonder if you should swap that nice Pro V1 for the old Topflite in the bottom of your bag… and where you know that only three, four, five – or even six – of your very best shots are required if you are to walk off the green with dignity.
This selection spans the country and embraces blind shots, doglegs, hollows, water hazards,

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What If... in Golf

The game of ‘What if’ is as claustrophobic as it is pointless in golf… but it’s also unavoidable. Think back to your last round and the small mistakes you made: a missed putt, an aggressive

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Slieve Russell Opens up with PGA Designation

Approach to the par five 6th at Slieve Russell
All of the attention may be on Lahinch and Royal Portrush golf clubs at the moment – and for good reason – but other Irish clubs are flexing their muscles with important events, anniversaries and announcements. One of these is the glorious Slieve Russell Hotel, Golf & Country Club, in Co. Cavan. (See below for details of their Open Week 21-25 July.)

In June, the resort received the designation of PGA National Ireland, making it only the 8th PGA National-designated resort in the world. That’s a serious accolade and one which reflects both the quality of the highly acclaimed Paddy Merrigan-designed championship course and the resort’s extensive facilities. It would be easy for something like this to slip below the radar but that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

At the official ceremony, PGA chief executive Robert Maxfield said: “We are delighted to welcome Slieve Russell to our exceptional list of PGA Branded Properties. The PGA National – Ireland further strengthens The PGA brand’s reputation internationally and we look forward to promoting Slieve Russell to both PGA Members and golfers across the globe.”
Views down the 9th hole 
The PGA was formed in 1901 and is the world’s oldest professional golfers’ association. It is based at Centenary House, at the famous Belfry in Warwickshire, and boasts over 8,000 members including 1,600 working overseas in more than 80 different countries. The PGA is one of golf’s leading bodies and it is committed to growing and developing the game nationally and internationally through the expertise of its professionals. It was the PGA, in conjunction with Samuel Ryder and The PGA of America, that founded the now world-renowned Ryder Cup match, which has thrown up so many famous Irish golf moments – not least Christy O’Connor Junior’s unforgettable 2-iron at the Belfry itself, in 1989. 
The 10th green
Slieve Russell’s designation follows a period of sustained strategic investment by the resort to build its business, both on the island of Ireland and internationally. This has seen major investment to upgrade both the golf course and the resort’s many other facilities. It has helped Slieve Russell reinforce its position as one of our leading hotel, golf and country club resorts. Greens, tees, fairways and bunkers continue to be improved, while the development of the Golf Academy includes state-of-the-art video and swing analysis technology. In the 222-room hotel, the banqueting, conference and event facilities received a major upgrade, as did the award-winning Ciuin Spa. Weddings abound and many a happy couple can be seen heading out onto the golf course to have photos taken by Lough Rud, with swans and geese on the water and the famous ‘SR’ hedge perched on the lough’s edge. (This also happens to be Slieve Russell’s signature par five 13th hole.)
Swans on Lough Rud, with the 12th hole in the background.
Head Professional, Gordon Smyth said: “This is a really proud day for the entire team here at Slieve Russell, recognising as it does not just the quality of the Championship course but the other golf facilities and academy we have built up over the years. We believe our designation as PGA National Ireland is reflective of this work and to join a club of just eight PGA National designated resorts worldwide, including the likes of The Belfry and Gleneagles, is a huge honour and reflective of the quality of Slieve Russell as a venue for golfers of all levels and abilities.”

Signs on the course have all been updated to reflect Slieve Russell’s new-found status, including a large silver banner by the 1st tee, where Colm Moriarty was photographed in late June after winning the annual Slieve Russell Masters Pro-Am. He wonby eight shots, with rounds of 65 (-7) and 67 (-5). He joins a list of high quality names including Neil O’Briain, David Higgins and the legendary Eamonn Darcy, all of whom have won the event three times.

Colm Moriarty with Tom Walker, Slieve Russell General Manager.
“I played some very good golf, maybe right up there with some of the best golf I’ve played because it is a really tough course, a great test and one that improves every time we return,” said Colm Moriarty, who made not one bogey in his two rounds.
The signature hole is the par five 13th
The PGA National designation ensures that certain standards are maintained and the quality of the course today is as good as anywhere in the country. The PGA mantle also provides the resort with excellent marketing opportunities, especially on the international stage. It helps of course that exceptional bragging rights already exist with Slieve Russell being the home club of Irish golfing sensations Leona and Lisa Maguire. The Maguires turned professional in 2018, after stellar amateur careers, which saw Leona twice ranked as the world’s number one amateur, and twin sister Lisa winning 15 amateur titles. This is where they learned to play.

Located just 90 minutes from Dublin, the course opened in 1992. It flows over the drumlins of Co. Cavan, with the back nine containing some of the best holes in Ireland. Today, twenty seven years after opening, Slieve Russell has further cemented its position as a top tier Irish parkland and The PGA Ireland designation has made that abundantly clear. 

Open Week is Coming
If you want to play this peach of a parkland you can... next week in their Open Week. For a cost of just €30. Get booking. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Irish Junior Summer Golf Camps 2019

I was introduced to golf when I was five years old. Over the following years I played many sports but golf was always something I returned to. You can do it on your own, you can do it with friends and, with the handicap system, you can play on level terms no matter who you walk the fairways with. 

There are few sports that allow that equality to exist. There are few sports you can play from the age of five to ninety five. And there are few sports that allow you to analyse yourself so clearly. Golf teaches you a lot about who you are.
And starting young – while not essential (Padraig Harrington was 16 when he picked up a club)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Golf Course at Adare... 1st Anniversary

The Golf Course at Adare opened this time last year after two years of redevelopment. The anticipation was phenomenal and, as exceptional as the entire five star resort is, we golfers are far more focused on the revamped Tom Fazio creation and how good it is. I was lucky enough to play it last autumn (my two part review is here) but four magazines have now published their Top 100 rankings with the 'new' Adare included:

  1. Irish Golfer
  2. Golf Digest Ireland
  3. Golf Monthly
  4. Golf World

I wrote a piece in the Irish Examiner on the four magazines' rankings and their comments/thoughts on Adare. Click here if you want to read the piece... which rates the course between 3rd and 12th best in Ireland.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Poulter to Play at the DDF Irish Open

credit Getty Images
Ian Poulter is set to bring his renowned passion to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the second Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai, when the Ryder Cup legend makes his first appearance in the Republic of Ireland in 13 years at Lahinch Golf Club this July.

The Englishman, known as the ‘Postman’ to many fans because he always delivers at The Ryder Cup, was in contention for a maiden Major Championship title at the recent Masters Tournament.
Poulter’s commitment means that four of the current top five in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, alongside Shane Lowry, Justin Harding

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Golf, Health and Missed Opportunities

When the GUI and ILGU launched their ’Golf and Health Week’ campaign in the middle of March, it received good exposure in the golf media. This is no doubt on the back of the campaign being an R&A initiative and it being endorsed by big-name golfers including Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson, and Annika Sorenstam.

That ‘Week’ has arrived and it started yesterday. The initiative is running immediately after the Masters and before Easter… just one of the times when golfers come out of full hibernation. Coincidence? It seems unlikely. The golfing public are paying attention, especially in light of Tiger’s remarkable come-back victory.

It is no surprise that the objective of the campaign is to get golfers of all hues to

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Irish at Augusta. 15 and Counting

How many Irish golfers have competed at the Masters? 

The answer is 14... or 15 if you include the elusive Steve McLowry. Here's the full list from my piece in the Irish Examiner.

It should also be noted that the slightly reworded question of: 'How many Irish golfers have competed at Augusta?' has the different (and official) answer of 15. Olivia Mehaffey completed the Augusta National Women's Amateur event last weekend in a tie for 23rd. By finishing in the top 30 after two rounds at the Champions Retreat Golf Club, she qualified to play the final round at Augusta itself.

And maybe, when the weekend is finished, we'll also have an Irish golfer wearing the Green Jacket... Steve McLowry could surprise us all.