The Golden Age of Irish Golf

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July 13, 2011 by David Miller

I read this article in this week’s Irish Times by a caddy about the ending of his carrying-the-bag relationship with his player and thought to myself what a dignified, uplifting piece it was about the ending of a professional’s working relationship. Well worth reading.

Of course Irish golf is surely undergoing nothing less than its Golden Age at the moment. Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, the names of honour past, present and future are already being enscribed in the list of great golfing talents. And what a game it is! I’ve played on and off since I was a teenager (always more off than on until the last 2 to 3 years). I shot my 2nd best ever score on Sunday, 84 on one of Ireland’s fabled lush parkland courses, Powerscourt East course. Great coaching from the local pro has helped a lot, well worth signing up with your local PGA guy or gal if you have one locally.

All good preparation for this year’s annual Golf Tour, currently in its 9th consecutive year. By my calculations (below) the Golf Tour has played 47 rounds (on 45 different courses as Lundin Links and Leven Links in Scotland were played in both 2005 and 2009) since 2003, and this year will see the half-ton of rounds played brought up at the 3rd course of the Tour. A momentous moment, and one that should spur people’s commitment to make it to the full century of rounds in approx 2019! Assuming that we play 4 rounds in England, that will mean 49 unique courses played to year end 2011, with the first course of 2012 being the 50th unique course played. Destinations played have included:

(2003) North West Ireland (Connemara, Donegal GC, Portsalon GC, Ballyliffin (Glashedy) and Enniscrone); (2004) Irish East Coast (Arklow GC, Charlesland GC, Powerscourt GC and the European Club; (2005) Scotland (Lundin Links, Leven Links, Crieff GCMuckhart GC, Whitekirk GC and Gullane No. 2); (2006) Northern Ireland (Royal Portrush (Dunluce Links), Royal Portrush (Valley Links), Portstewart, Radisson Roe Park and Hilton Templepatrick); (2007) South West Ireland (Ring of Kerry GC, Killarney’s Mahony’s Point, Ballybunion’s Cashen course, Ballybunion’s Old Course, Dingle Golf Links, and Dook’s); (2008)  Mission Hills, Shenzhen, China – (World Cup, Annika, Duval, Norman, Els, Faldo, Olazabal, Leadbetter, Ozaki and Vijay – 10 out of 12!); (2009) St Andrews, Scotland (the New Course, Castle CourseKingsbarns,  Lundin Links, Leven Links,  Scotscraig and Craighead); and (2010) Wales (Pyle & Kenfig; Ashburnham, Royal Porthcawl, and Celtic Manor’s Montgomerie course).

This year (2011) we’re hitting Sandwich, Kent in September playing Royal St GeorgesRoyal Cinque Ports, North Foreland & Prince’s with a few chilled beers in the clubhouse along the way. Should be 8 of us and promises to be great craic as ever. Only trouble is they’re links courses and when you’re used to the perfection of some of the Irish parkland courses like Powerscourt, well, let’s just say they’re a different type of challenge. When we played in Northern Ireland in 2006 the difference between the low teen handicappers and the guys 18 and above was noticeable in the stableford scores – hardly anyone 18+ got into the double digits, such was the difficulty of finding the fairways, while the lower handicappers were scoring in the late 20s / early 30s – AND they were looking for 3/4 handicaps too (definitely hearing nothing of that this year).

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