It was a good week last week with some really positive news for Irish golf. Fairways and FunDays announced a new ambassador while Carne Golf Links announced the return of a major Irish championship. It also involved me returning to the K Club – on behalf of Fairways and FunDays – where there is significant work being done to the Palmer North course.
Joe O'Carroll with Harry Ewing
Fairways and FunDays is the leading inbound Irish golf tour operator and it has found a new ambassador in Harry Ewing, Irish golf professional, caddie on the LPGA Tour and co-host of Ireland’s leading golf podcast, 3 Off The Tee. The Partnership was announced at the K Club – I was taking the photographs – where this new partnership will regularly showcase Irish golf to the golfing world. The goal is to focus on enhancing the golfing experience of Fairways and FunDays’ clients as well as expanding markets for Irish golf tourism. The agreement will also see Harry carry Fairways and FunDays branding on the LPGA Tour.
Irish golf grew worldwide in the years leading up to the pandemic with in excess of 200,000 overseas visitors playing golf here every year. Such volume accounted for more than 1.7 million bed nights and a financial contribution to the economy of close to €270 million. Post-COVID, thanks in no small way to the sterling work of Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland, the pent up demand for Irish golf holidays is set to be released in a major way. And thanks to the rise of new Irish representation on the PGA and LPGA Tours, with Leona Maguire and Seamus Power joining the more established Irish tour professionals, Ireland’s reputation as a bucket-list destination has never been more evident.
Fairways and FunDays and Harry Ewing will be leveraging his reputation in the golfing industry and visibility amongst the golfing community to grow business in traditional and new markets.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be bringing Harry on board as our latest Ambassador. Harry will use his recognition and presence as a caddie on the LPGA Tour to grow our business which is exclusively focused on golf in Ireland, and to assist us in building better golfing experiences for our clients,” said Joe O’Carroll, director at Fairways and Fundays. “Harry is widely known in the sector through his 3 off the tee podcast and his strong track record. His latest caddying assignment, with USA’s Marina Alex is off to a flying start with her being in contention in her first 2 outings this year, most recently sharing the final round pairing with Leona Maguire on her first LPGA Tour win.”
It'll be a sound partnership and with Harry’s travels taking him worldwide – he’s heading to Asia for the next leg of LPGA tour – the word on the beauty of Irish golf and the professionalism of Fairways and FunDays will spread ever further afield.
|The 2nd green on the K Club's Palmer North course|
Incidentally, since falling under new ownership the K Club has been investing heavily in its courses and facilities. The current thrust will see the Palmer North closed for some 10 weeks as huge work will be undertaken to ‘recap’ the top layer of all fairways, thereby massively improving the drainage. Other plans are also in the works.
The Good News for Carne Golf Links in Belmullet, Keeps on Coming
The PGA in Ireland’s premier tournament, the Irish PGA Championship, will return to Carne Golf Links following its successful staging last year. The 2021 edition of Ireland’s oldest Championship, which numbers major champions Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke among previous winners, marked the official opening of the Wild Atlantic Dunes course at Carne, which combines the Eddie Hackett back nine with the new Kilmore nine. The 54-hole tournament will be contested from August 18-20, and it will be sponsored by Columbia Sportswear once again. The Pro-Am will take place on August 17. I played in it last year and it was – as expected – brilliant fun.
The original Eddie Hackett 9th at Carne
Gerry Maguire, the chairman of Carne Golf Links owners, Turasoireacht Iorrais Teo, added: “The team here at Carne Golf Links are privileged and honoured to have been asked once again to host the Irish PGA Championship in 2022. “This event is huge for the town of Belmullet and indeed the wider Mayo region, and its importance to both Carne Golf Links and the local economy cannot be underestimated. We are delighted our main sponsor for the 2021 event, Columbia Sportswear, have kindly agreed to also sponsor the 2022 championship, and we very much look forward to working in partnership with them, the PGA in Ireland, and the local community, to ensure the 2022 tournament is even better than its successful predecessor."
The announcement comes on the back of Carne’s Wild Atlantic Dunes course placing at number 13 in Irish Golfer magazine’s Top 100 course rankings, 2022. This means that Carne is now the highest rated course on this North West coastline. Along with the return of international visitors in 2022, the future for Carne Golf Links is looking very bright indeed.