Thursday, April 8, 2021

Sportswashing in Saudi Arabia - and shame for the sport of golf

 I think it's a shame...

... actually, scratch that, I think it's a disgrace that on the day the Masters tees off in 2021 there's an announcement that the nine-time Major champion, Gary Player, has joined Golf Saudi as its latest and most influential ambassador. Player will work with Golf Saudi "to help implement a shared vision for golf and its future development within the Kingdom". 

Alternatively, you could also read that as 'helping to implement a sportswashing campaign that has seen Saudi Arabia spend $1.5 Billion to paint themselves as a global sports player... while expecting the world to ignore their human rights abuses." 

It sticks in my craw that the announcement was made shortly before Player took up his traditional role as the honorary Masters starter, alongside Jack Nicklaus and Lee Elder. On a day when the world welcomes its first Major of 2021, and Irish golfers get to enjoy Major golf on TV as we wait to get back to the fairways, I'm now forced to think about Saudi Arabia and the crap that country is pulling. Maybe this is of no interest to you but it shames the sport to play any tournaments in this country. In my opinion, it also shames Gary Player, one of the all time greats.

I wrote an article about Saudi Arabia's sportswashing back in November 2020, ahead of the first Aramco Saudi Ladies International (LET) and, this past March, The Guardian produced another outlining the money involved. 


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Carton House Set to Re-Open After Major Refurbishment

There has been a lot going on at Carton House in the past couple of years and a new chapter is set to begin this summer as a multimillion-euro refurbishment will be unveiled. This covers a magnificent refurbishment of the original house, the surrounding hotel and the grounds. Carton House itself is a Georgian estate dating back 250 years but it will soon reopen its doors as a Fairmont Hotels & Resorts property.

 

Carton House O'Meara's famous 16th par-3

The refurbishment has renewed the beauty of the estate, sensitively blending past and present. It has been carried out under the creative guidance of McCauley Daye OConnell Architects, with exquisite attention to every aspect of the design. 

 

The resort will now trade under the name Carton House, a Fairmont Managed Hotel. 

 

18 stunning bedrooms and suites occupy the upper floors of The House, with a further 151 rooms in The Garden Wing which curves around the formal gardens, offering elegant spaces which have been enhanced in both design and facilities as part of the estate’s transformation. 

 

Bunkers are best avoided on the Montgomerie course

Set within 1,100 private acres of sweeping parkland, ancient woodlands, lakes and the meandering River Rye, the walled estate has Special Area of Conservation status. It is home to a herd of red deer, as well as a rich diversity of animal wildlife, and rare species of birds and plants. Historic architecture is dotted throughout the estate, from the oldest building on the grounds, Tyrconnell Tower, dating back 500 years, to the romantic and curious Shell Cottage or the evocative Boat House on the water’s edge. Golfers lucky enough to play here experience all three when they play the two courses. The boat house is particularly impressive on the drive in, and as you play the Montgomerie 18th hole. Tyrconnell Tower stands high above the O’Meara course, visible from many places especially holes 3, 9, 10 and 17.  The Shell Cottage rests on the banks of the River Rye and beside the famous par-3 16th. It’s an enchanting spot.

 

The Boat House with the hotel in the distance
And the Montgomerie 18th green

As the summer rolls around and we hope for a return to golf and staying in the lap of luxury, the resort has created a number of bespoke experience packages. Explore the grounds on foot or by bike with a picnic hamper, follow the cycle and walking trails, or enjoy the outdoors with tennis, fishing, archery and clay pigeon shooting. And golf. 


Or, at the other end of the scale, Carton House Spa & Wellness has been completely reimagined too with a new treatment menu and thermal relaxation experience. 

The Carriage House Gastropub (in the clubhouse)

Now toss in four restaurants and bars… and a fully refurbished clubhouse which opened two years ago, and you can see the ‘colour’ and breadth of what the resort has to offer.

 

John Mullen, owner of Carton House with his family, is very much looking forward to the reopening this summer. This has been a labour of love for myself and my family, and the extended teams of specialists and experts who have worked on every detail of this large and complex project. We could not be more proud and delighted to share the magnificent refurbishment of Carton House with our first guests this summer. It has been a challenging time for hospitality businesses everywhere, so we are happy to be able to offer a positive, good news story, writing a new chapter in the story of this splendid and historic estate.”

 

Carton House reopens after an extensive refurbishment in summer 2021 as a luxurious Fairmont Managed Hotel, joining the more than 80 Fairmont hotels around the globe as the oldest property in the collection.


For more visit www.cartonhouse.com

 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

A Seed of an Idea for Golf Investment

Here’s an idea with a difference. An Irish golf company is offering a chance to get in on the ground floor… so to speak. You can now buy a share in the success of Seed Golf. If you haven’t heard of Seed, then, to put it simply, they produce golf balls … and they are very very good. 

Seed has launched a unique crowdfunding campaign as part of its ongoing expansion plans. The campaign offers its key audiences and its customers an opportunity to invest a total of €250,000, which will be matched by Seed’s planned €1 Million seed investor round. This will be managed via crowdfunding platform TheStartUp Crowd, with Seed giving its customers the first chance to register early to secure investment. 


How much can you invest, you ask… you might as well know upfront that the minimum is €1,000. It’s not small change… but, again, it’s an investment in a young golf brand that is going places. 

 

You can register your interest via the company’s dedicated site seedgolf.club

Pre-registration started on March 25th, and the campaign itself will go live on April 15.

 

Even if you’re not interested in investing, read on.

 

We’ve grown so quickly and it’s all been because golfers have really bought into the ideals behind the brand. Without that support, we’d have never come this far, so this is a great way to strengthen that relationship. Beyond public traded golf companies, it’s difficult for golfers to invest directly in a golf brand and it’s more unusual to have a say in how that company is run. We wanted our customers to own Seed from the very beginning and join us for the entire ride.” Founder and CEO Dean Klatt 



Who is Seed Golf?

Founded by ex-Cleveland/Srixon and Ogio staffer Dean Klatt, Seed is a new digital native golf brand promising to make equipment more affordable and more accessible for regular golfers. 

Dean, who helped guide Cleveland’s growth in Australia and OGIO’s digital expansion into Europe, said the company’s first goal was to establish a foothold in the golf ball market, and develop further products that fit the company’s ‘same performance, half the price’ mantra. The company says its mission is ‘to make the game more affordable and more enjoyable for more people.’

The brand currently sells very popular tour performance golf balls direct to golfers via their online D2C (direct to consumer) subscription-based www.seedgolf.com website. The balls offer regular golfers a great performing product at a value for money price. If you want to know just how good the ball is… they were developed in Ireland, in conjunction with Seed, DesignCORE, and the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the Institute of Technology Carlow. Seed balls are regulated and approved by golf’s governing bodies, the RandA and USGA. They’ve been designed to maximise performance right on the USGA/RandA limits. In short, they perform just about as well as anything else out there. The company boasts customers in 36 countries and has been named the Official Ball of the PGA EuroPro Tour.

Seed has been fairly secretive about what it plans to do in the future, but so far its plans are working. The company has grown steadily, mainly off the back of word-of-mouth referrals and positive performance reviews. Here’s one from Peter Finch, three years ago. 

 

The Investment 

 

Investors will have access to Seed’s private community which entitles them to exclusive benefits and insights into the company and its plans.

 

“ We want our community to be part of our journey and play an active role in it. We want to know what our customers think and what they’d like to see from Seed. This is a great way of giving everyone a chance to have that input,” said Klatt. 

 

Seed’s mission is to change the way golfers think about their equipment, how they buy it and how they play. It is certainly doing that and there is more to follow.

 

You’ll find more information at seedgolf.club (It's an eligible EIS investment, for one.)