Saturday, January 2, 2021

Irish Golf in 2021 - what the year has in store

Now more than ever is a good time to look ahead to 2021… and the positives that await in the world of Irish golf. Because heaven knows there aren’t many people thinking about the positives right now.

Mount Juliet's 4th green

 Pro and amateur golf aside – and there are plenty of big stories there with Padraig captaining the Ryder Cup team, Shane Lowry defending his Open Championship, Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire making strides, and Rory McIlroy still striving to complete the grand slam … not to mention the likes of James Sugrue and Olivia Mehaffey taking their next steps – Irish golf courses have plenty going on, too. True, we remain at the mercy of Covid and lockdowns but that didn’t stop things happening last year… and it won’t stop them happening this year either.


Highlights of 2021 will be:


1 The opening of the St Patrick’s Links at Rosapenna. It is the first ‘new’ course in Ireland since 2008 (Cobh Golf Club) and it has been designed by Tom Doak. Due to open in the summer the buzz is mighty and I am officially enthralled at the prospect of Doak designing a course in Ireland… let alone a links. There are photos of the course on Instagram. Take a look; get excited. Donegal is becoming the hottest destination in Ireland… the world maybe… as it will now have all of its existing stock as well as courses designed by Tom Doak and Gil Hanse (Narin & Portnoo). Expect golf writers/reviewers from around the world to flock to Ireland as soon as it is safe to do so.


2 There are lots of courses making investments in their courses (my 2020 investment article for Irish Golfer is here) and that will be continuing in 2021. Castlebar Golf Club will officially open its updated course in the spring, even if it was being played by members last summer. Malone Golf Club has been doing a lot of work to holes on its back nine as well as a new practice area. This will open this year. But the biggest job on course upgrades is still underway at Glasson Golf Club, where the closing five holes have been revamped entirely. These were the course’s best holes so it will be fascinating to see how they have evolved… and whether David Jones, the designer, will then be asked to turn his attention to the holes on the other side of the entrance road.


3 The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be played at Mount Juliet… a year late but still showcasing the beauty of Irish golf. On the downside, the Rolex mantle has gone; on the upside the event has been moved back to the more attractive July date (July 1-4). That date should also help with the anticipated roll out of the vaccination programme… in this country at least… and the likelihood of spectators being allowed to attend. Register your interest for tickets here

4. Have you heard of Clandeboye Golf Club, outside Newtownards? Most Irish golfers have but not many have visited this lovely rich parkland. There are two 18-hole courses here and the championship course, the Dufferin, will host the PGA EuroPro Tour in August (18-20). Tullamore Golf Club is celebrating 125 years this year and will be hosting the Irish Am Close as part of what will undoubtedly be a busy year.


Those are the big stories to look forward to but there is much more going on – at Ardglass, Dingle Links and Bandon, to name a few – and many clubs are celebrating anniversaries.


It’s not going to be dull that’s for sure. Happy golfing for when we can get back on the fairways.



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