Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sands of Time - End of an Era at Cork Golf Club

These are the final days of Matt Sands' 32 year career at Cork Golf Club. As General Manager he has steered the club through both difficult and glorious times, and retiring must leave some mixed feelings for him. 

With a course attributed to the great Dr Alister MacKenzie, he was always managing a course that, at times, feels like a work of art. Managing the club and its members is a different matter entirely. 

You can read my interview with Matt, for the Irish Examiner, here. I have been writing for the Irish Examiner for a few years now and I have learned that they rarely adopt the article headline that I give them. On this occasion though, I felt I'd nailed it with 'Sands of Time'. 

Nope... instead the newspaper ran with 'What next for retiring Cork GC manager Matt Sands? ‘Play more golf, I suppose’'

Hmmm! I'm going to put that one down as a win for me.

Best of luck with your retirement, Matt. It is well deserved.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Galgorm Castle - What a September in Store

For most of us, 2020 has been an 'annus horribilis'. Little wonder with Covid-19 leading the charge to a different way of life and putting fear and doubt into most people's minds. 

Golf has benefitted as things started to reopen. The current figure from the GUI is that golf has attracted 12,000 new members since May. Plenty of clubs have seen over 100 new members.

On the flip side, one of major Irish casualties was the cancellation of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet. It had to be done but it was sad to see it go and the initial thought was that there would be no event in 2020. But that wasn't the case.

Take a bow, Galgorm Castle, which is part of the five star Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort. In what should be an 'annus mirabilis'... or perhaps that should be miraculis... the resort on the outskirts of Ballymena will host not one but two two European Tour events in September. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is scheduled for the end of the month (24th - 27th) but the Challenge Tour's Northern Ireland Open supported by the R&A will be the forerunner as it hosts competitors from the 3rd to 6th September. Galgorm Castle has hosted the NI Open for 10 years so knows full well how to host a big event.

It is great news for Irish golf even if Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and some other big names don't make it back from the US. Maybe the spotlight can fall on Galgorm Castle instead - it is a fine parkland course.

The Northern Ireland Open supported by The R&A will be played behind closed doors but European Tour Productions will have daily highlights programmes broadcast through as well as the tournament website Tournament highlights will also be shown on Sky Sports with daily updates on local TV networks. For live scoring during tournament week, visit

Roll on, September.