Amateur golf urges sensible precautions in battle against Coronavirus

March 12, 2020


Sport is not immune from the effects of Coronavirus but the wide-open spaces of a golf course could provide some respite from the panic buying of nappies and hand sanitizers.
The game’s amateur bodies, the Irish Ladies Golfing Union (ILGU) and the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) issued an update to clubs yesterday in the wake of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s decision to close schools, colleges and childcare facilities until 29 March because of Covid-19.
Far from sounding a note of doom, the update outlined sensible steps to keep club golf going whilst trying to minimise the potential for spreading the disease amongst staff and older members.

“The Unions recognise the need for adherence to the revised guidelines as issued by the HSE today (12th March 2020) and encourage golf clubs to observe them fully. The restrictions (from 6pm today until Sunday 29th March) do not prevent club competitions or casual rounds of golf taking place, however we need to be cogniscant of the social nature of our game and how this element of it is impacted.”

For more info visit GolfNet – https://www.golfnet.ie/news/golfnet/4622/statement-on-covid-19-from-gui-and-ilgu

At the same time however, both governing bodies revealed that they had opted to cancel or postpone a number of tournaments, coaching sessions and events.
The most high profile tournament to fall by the wayside is the Irish Girls’ Open Stroke Play which was scheduled for Roganstown Golf Club from April 3-5.
The tournament is technically outside the period of restriction but with a significant international field expected the decision was made to cancel it.

For more info on events postponed or cancelled – https://www.golfnet.ie/news/golfnet/4622/statement-on-covid-19-from-gui-and-ilgu

‘It’s a privilege to host your national open’ – Rory confirms DDF Irish Open return at Mount Juliet

February 28, 2020


Rory McIlroy will make a much-anticipated return to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open when the World Number One tees it up at Mount Juliet Estate from May 28-31.
The four-time Major winner will join his fellow Northern Irishman, and tournament host Graeme McDowell, in a star-studded field which also includes defending champion Jon Rahm and the reigning Open Champion Shane Lowry.
McIlroy will be targeting a second victory in an event which he himself hosted from 2015 to 2018 – helping elevate the historic national open to become one of the European Tour’s eight premier Rolex Series events.
The 30-year-old famously lifted the trophy in 2016, delighting the home crowds with a swashbuckling display down the stretch to hold off Scot Russell Knox – who went on to claim the title in 2017 – and Welshman Bradley Dredge.
“It’s a privilege to be able to host your national open. It sometimes takes a little bit away from what you are doing on the golf course but I think if you manage your time well and get your work in first [you’ll be fine],” said Rory.
“The first time I played in 2015 I think I maybe didn’t prepare properly for the tournament and that showed. But then going on from that and winning in 2016 I was able to step back a little bit, focus on my game but still try to be a good host I guess.
“There is a lot going on and you can be pulled from pillar to post most of the week but I think that anyone who hosts a tournament knows what they are getting themselves into.”

“I’m looking forward to it a lot,” said McIlroy.
“It’s a bit different going back for a May date as opposed to July, and at a parkland course at Mount Juliet. I’ve never played the course but got good memories – it was the first time I ever watched Tiger Woods play in person.

“My dad drove me down and we watched the WGC there and that was really cool, so it’ll be exciting to tee it up there myself and try to win a tournament there.”

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “We are delighted that Rory has confirmed his attendance at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet. Our involvement as title sponsor of the tournament began when Rory took on the hosting duties in 2015 and he did a great job in raising the profile of the event.
“We are looking forward to a great week in Kilkenny and working with Mount Juliet, the European Tour, this year’s host Graeme McDowell, Sport Ireland and all of the other entities to make this event a great success.”
Mount Juliet Estate already boasts a prestigious list of winners after a three-year stint of hosting the event – with Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Sam Torrance winning there in 1993, 1994 and 1995 respectively – and McIlroy will be hoping to join this list in May.

Open Legacy Community Golf Programme creates Inclusive Golf workshops for PGA Professionals

February 23, 2020

(l-r) Brian McCabrey, Mervyn Nelson, Mark Gibson, Janet Adams at Donaghadee GC

The Golfing Union of Ireland (Ulster Branch) and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) have been successful in obtaining funding to support golf clubs across Northern Ireland to take part in The Open Legacy Community Golf Programme.
As part of the Open Legacy Community Golf Programme this year, CGI are running two inclusive golf coaching workshops for PGA professionals.
This will be the first time that this coaching workshop has been run in Ireland and it will be delivered by PGA Fellow Professional Craig Thomas who is a PGA Tutor and Lead Coach at The ISPS Handa Academy.
The workshops, which will be held at the GUI/ ILGU Regional Coaching Centre at Greenmount, aims to equip PGA Professionals with the knowledge and confidence to support people with a disability, of all abilities in any coaching environment, recognise talent and help talented participants progress on to an appropriate competition pathway.
The workshop also aims to give PGA Professionals an opportunity to put theory into practice during the practical coaching session delivered to people with a disability as part of the workshop.
Professionals do not have to be currently coaching disabled people but should be interested in getting involved in coaching in this area.

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:
– reflect on past experiences and recognise and share best practice
– make appropriate modifications, adaptations and progressions to a planned session to include all participants
– explore the participant pathway for disabled participants within disability sport
– identify the basic elements of classification in relation to disability sport
– know where to go for further disability sport-specific information

Places are free but limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. All places must be booked in advance via the following links.
Venue: GUI/ ILGU regional training facility at Greenmount, Antrim.

Wednesday 25th March,10.30am-3.30pm  
https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/inclusive-golf-coaching-for-pga-professionals-25th-march-tickets-93043308039

Thursday 26th March,10.30am-3.30pm 
https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/inclusive-golf-coaching-for-pga-professionals-26th-march-tickets-93047552735

Peoples kickstarts 2020 at Kirkistown UGC event

February 6, 2020


Andrew Peoples posted a four-under-par 65 to win the most recent Ulster Golfers’ Alliance event at Kirkistown Castle.
The Andrew Morris Golf man got down to business right away with a chip-and-putt birdie four at the first and a six-iron to six feet set him up for birdie two at the fourth.
However, his charge was briefly halted as he missed the green at the fifth failed to get up and down, recording a bogey.
That was only a brief halt in his run up the leaderboard as Peoples pencilled in his second birdie two of the day at the eighth after hitting the front of the green and rolling home a 33-foot putt.
Turning in two-under-par 33 he collected another birdie at the 13th, holing from six feet after a drive and four iron to the green, That was followed by his final birdie of the day at the par-four 15th where, after being short of the green, he pitched to a foot.
Chris Elliott, who plays off 20 at Spa, collected the amateur’s nett prize on 40 points while the gross winner was 1986 North of Ireland Amateur Championship runner-up Paddy O’Donnell, a Whitehead three-handicapper.
Knock Club members, professional Ricky Whitford plus amateurs Harry McKee, Simon Swail and Mark McKee, posted 88 points to win the team prize.

Gary Chambers

Meanwhile, some major changes have been announced to the remainder of this season’s fixtures. At the recent AGM, Gary Chambers took over the Chairman’s seat and in his honour, an outing for the members has been slotted in at his club Killymoon for Wednesday, February 18.
That means that the ‘away annual fixture’ has been pushed back for a week and it will be staged at Laytown & Bettystown on February 25.  A fourball betterball 36-hole professionals’ only tournament will be played on March 3 and 10 at Royal Portrush and Royal County Down, respectively, and the usual UGA monthly outing will now take place on March 24 at Ballycastle.
The season-ending Race to Lough Erne will be staged on March 31 with the UGA members having a final fling as a two-day overnight pro-am had been added to the fixtures list. It will be played on April 20 and 21 at Glasson Lakehouse Resort.

PGA in Ireland Fixtures

Major champ Lowry joins stars on show at Mount Juliet

February 3, 2020


Shane Lowry will make his first competitive appearance on home soil since winning the Open Championship, when he plays at Mount Juliet Estate on May 28-31, 2020.
The 32-year-old lifted the Claret Jug last July in front of the delirious home crowds at Royal Portrush Golf Club, confirming his status as an Irish sporting legend.
It was Lowry’s second victory of a career-defining season, which also included a maiden Rolex Series title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship earlier in the year.
“I can’t wait to tee it up in front of my home crowds at Mount Juliet in May,” said Lowry, who famously won his home open as an amateur in 2009.
“It’s always such an honour to play in front of the Irish fans and they have always been so supportive of me. They played such a massive part in my win at Portrush last July, so teeing up as Open champion at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be a great moment.

“With Graeme hosting the event – I know he’s keen to build on the momentum in Irish golf at the moment – and the fact it will be the May Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland, I think it’s going to make for an incredible festival atmosphere at Mount Juliet, much like Lahinch last year. I am honestly so excited for it.”

Lowry joins World Number Three Jon Rahm as the second superstar to be officially confirmed for the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, where the Spanish talent will defend his title and target a third victory in the historic national open having triumphed at Lahinch Golf Club in 2019.
Mount Juliet Estate already boasts a prestigious list of winners after a three-year stint of hosting the event – with Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Sam Torrance winning there in 1993, 1994 and 1995 respectively – and Rahm will be hoping to join another prestigious list this May.
The luxury five-star resort in Kilkenny also hosted Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf in 1997, a challenge match between Tom Watson and Fred Couples, won by the latter, as well as the WGC-American Express Championship in 2002 and 2004 – won by Tiger Woods and Ernie Els respectively.

Early bird ticket prices for the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open begin at €13 for the Wednesday Pro-Am day, with Thursday and Friday day tickets available for a special price of €23 and Saturday and Sunday tickets beginning at €27. Fans can enjoy five days of world-class golf and entertainment for only €83 if they purchase their early bird season tickets prior to March 3.
Children under 12 years of age are entitled to free entry when accompanied by an adult, day junior tickets for those between 12 and 17 years of age are €10 (€25 for a season ticket) while students aged between 18 and 24 with valid student cards, and over 65s, can avail of a concession ticket – €15 for Thursday and Friday, €20 for Saturday and Sunday (€60 for a season). Parking access can be purchased for €5 per day, or €10 for a season parking ticket which covers all five days.
The only official sales channel to purchase tickets for this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is via the ticketing platform Eventbrite (here). The resale of Dubai Duty Free Irish Open tickets on unofficial platforms contravenes the European Tour’s ticket terms and conditions and such sales render the ticket void.
Official Hospitality tickets are also available on the ticketing page, or alternatively contact the European Tour’s dedicated Hospitality Sales Team, who will be happy to answer any queries and discuss the various hospitality options, on hospitality@europeantour.com, register your interest here or +44 (0) 1344 840681.

Spa GC pro Wardlow takes the UGA spoils at home

January 25, 2020


Adaptability is the watchword for regulars of the Ulster Golfers’ Alliance.
The start of the most recent event at Spa GC, which had been switched from Ardglass, was held up by a sharp frost that necessitated a hasty two-tee redraw.
When play finally got underway at 10.30am it was no surprise to see the local professional, Gary Wardlow find his way to the top of the leaderboard.
Wardlow’s one under par 71 saw him edge out the in-form Brian McElhinney (Evolve Golf Coaching) and Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort).
Gary started his round at the par-five first, and immediately went into the red with birdie four, chipping and putting after being short of the green with a drive and four iron.
He dropped a shot at the third, but got back under par at the ninth, holing from 10 feet.
Out in one-under-par 35, some ice on the fringe of the 10th cost him another shot.
A pair of back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes proved to be decisive. He three-stabbed the 16th green for bogey five but two pars to finish were sufficient to bring him home in level par 36 for a round of one-under-71.
Amateurs Tommy Lyttle (Carrickfergus) and Steve Goldthorpe (Clandeboye) shared top of the nett leaderboard with the former taking first place on countback. The gross award went to Malone’s Ward Farrell who carded 75.
It was double success for Gary Wardlow as he also led home the winning team, again on countback. Wardlow and amateurs – Paul McKenna, Gwyneth Cordner and Marion Armstrong – returned 89 points.
The next outing will be on Monday, February 3 at Kirkistown Castle.

Ulster Golfers’ Alliance Tournament at Spa
Professionals: 71 (-1) – G Wardlow (Spa).
72 – B McElhinney (Evolve Golf Coaching), S Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort).
73 – C Lyall (Donaghadee).
74 – M Cochran (American Golf).
75 – N Murray (Unattached), C Carvill (Belvoir Pk), R Whitford (Knock).
Amateurs: Nett 39 pts – T Lyttle 10 (Carrickfergus) … 1st on back nine;
39 – S Goldthorpe 17 (Clandeboye).
38 – L Hale 20 (Shandon Pk).
37 – M Dunlop 11 (Massereene).
Gross 75 (+3) – W Farrell 3 (Malone).
Team: 89 pts – Pro G Wardlow (Spa) with amateurs Phil McKenna 12, Gyweth Cordner 17 & M Armstrong 11.

 

Info courtesy of Tony McGee

PGA in Ireland season opener set for Pat Ruddy’s European Club

January 23, 2020

Pat Ruddy and Shane Jenkinson

Leading Irish golfing figure, Pat Ruddy, has confirmed that he will host a €10,000 PGA in Ireland Pro-Am at the European Club on March 22.
The European Club Pro-Am sponsored by Pat Ruddy will be open to a limited field based on the 2019 PGA in Ireland Order of Merit rankings
Ruddy said: “I have loved everything about golf for many years but nothing more than watching the professionals play and being allowed to play beside them.
“Tournament professionals and club professionals forget time when the stories start to flow, and enabling people to forget time and worldly cares is one of the great elixirs of golf.
“There was a time, in the 1960s through the 1980s, that I knew and loved every professional in Ireland from Phil Lawlor at The Curragh through to Johnny McGonagle at County Sligo, Danny O’Brien and Walter Sullivan who mixed-in a bit of inspired course design with their other skills, and the greats like Christy O’Connor, Fred Daly and Harry Bradshaw. Then it changed. Many of my pals died. Others retired and the names over the golf shops changed totally.

“Now the time has come to renew acquaintance with the PGA professionals and to have our members at The European Club share in the exciting experience of trying to match shots with the visiting maestros! What fun they will have, ‘giving the line’, golfwise and chatwise, to our visitors.”

Ruddy and the PGA in Ireland have worked closely together on numerous events over the years, most famously in 2007 with the staging of the Irish PGA Championship at the European Club.
On that occasion, the PGA in Ireland regional manager, Michael McCumiskey, along with Ruddy and Padraig Harrington, conspired to breathe new life into the event while offering the Dubliner some high quality links practice.
It was a relationship that bore dividends for all parties with Harrington winning the Irish PGA Championship three times in row 07/08/09 while crediting the event as a key component in his Open Championship victories of 2007 and 2008.
In more recent years, the European Club has provided a testing ground for Ireland’s PGA trainees and assistants via the The Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals. The 18-hole pro-only event was a welcome addition to the tournament schedule with Ciaran Molloy (2016), Richard Kilpatrick (2017) and Shane Jenkinson (2018) securing the title.
PGA in Ireland Regional Manager, Michael McCumiskey, said; “I first encountered Pat Ruddy in a professional capacity way back in 1986 when he invited the PGA in Ireland to become involved in events at Waterville and Killarney.
“That support continued with an Annual Challenge staged in the 1990s between the GUI Senior team and our PGA players and in more recent times via the Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals.
“This new event at the European Club, one the premier links courses in Ireland, will act as the pipe-opener to another busy competitive season.”

Posnett signs on for three more years with PGA Northern Branch

January 12, 2020

Phil Posnett

Former professional, Philip Posnett, has been handling the various PGA Northern Branch events for quite a few years now and at this week’s branch AGM at Royal County Down he committed to another three seasons as secretary.
“I am now 67 – will be 68 next march – and I told the delegates that, if they wanted me, I am prepared to serve as secretary for another three seasons,” he said.

“I’ll see, of course, how the health goes but I enjoy the work and it keeps me in touch with the boys. I also get the chance to play in some of the tournaments so that is a plus.”

Posnett has proven to be a calm influence over the years as he juggles the often tricky task of managing the schedule, entries, and results of the various events throughout the season that stretches across the autumn, winter and spring months.
Many times the weather disrupts the best-laid plans and events have to be hurriedly re-arranged.
The AGM of the branch, at which a high number attended, didn’t take up too much of Posnett’s time this week.
The election of a chairman for the coming season ended with Killymoon professional Gary Chambers taking over the hot seat while he along with Kevan Whitson (Royal County Down), Gary Wardlow (Spa) and Nigel Shaw (Warrenpoint) will serve on the Irish Region Branch for this year.
Meanwhile, the weather did halt this month’s scheduled Ulster Golfers’ Association Pro-only tournament at Royal County Down with high winds the problem.
“We got everyone out on the course but after a few holes, it became evident that it was dangerous to carry on. The wind was blowing the balls all over the place so we called a halt to the play. The event has been refixed for Tuesday, March 10,” said Posnett.
Before then, the members, pros and amateurs, of the Ulster Golfers’ Alliance, will play their January tournament at Ardglass, weather permitting, of course.

 

Info courtesy of Tony McGee

Don’t miss out – NI clubs can apply for The Open Legacy Community Golf Programme

January 4, 2020


The Golfing Union of Ireland (Ulster Branch) and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) have been successful in obtaining funding to support 20 golf clubs across Northern Ireland to take part in The Open Legacy Community Golf Programme which will be rolled out in the early months of 2020.
The programme, which will be funded to the tune of £75,000 via the Department for Communities in NI and Sport NI, aims to drive an increase in golf participation and will offer a variety of opportunities to clubs.
Each participating club will be supported to deliver five weeks of PGA Professional led golf activity in local primary schools during the months of February and March.
Additionally, the 20 successful clubs will receive a significant amount of modified golf equipment which will allow golf activity to take place in non-traditional settings such as school halls and playgrounds.
Each club will be tasked to target two primary schools in their area where initial golf activity will take place with costs covered by The Open Legacy fund. Each school will also be offered the opportunity for participating children to take part in a golf festival event involving other schools from their locality.
To follow on from the initial five week coaching programme it is envisaged that each Club will offer a ‘taster session’ in the club that will allow the children who have engaged in the school-based golf activity the chance to try golf in a club environment and possibly get involved in beginner programmes and activities.
Rory Leonard, CGI Development Officer said: “To assist with this activity volunteers from participating clubs will be offered spaces on a CGI Leader’s Workshop where they will enhance their ability to deliver quality experiences of golf.
“Furthermore, once links have been established between the golf clubs and the schools, there will be the opportunity for golf activity to continue in the schools with the use of modified golf equipment still available.”
CGI will also be staging a number of community golf awareness days across NI in partnership with local authorities, voluntary organisations, universities and colleges which will target young people, women & girls and people with disabilities, giving them the opportunity to be introduced to golf and signposted to clubs in their area.
To express your clubs interest in being involved in The Open Legacy Community Golf Programme please complete the following application form by Friday 17th January 2020:
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/OpenLegacyNI

 

McIlroy investing in the future at Holywood GC

December 22, 2019

Rory McIlroy returned to where it all began – Holywood Golf Club – to officially open the club’s new state-of-the-art Academy.
The Academy – built following significant investment from Rory – includes a new gym, five hitting bays, three TrackMans and two HD Golf Simulators.
Rory said; “Holywood Golf Club has been a very important part of my life. I spent so much time here and have many fond memories, so to be able to give something back is important.

“The new facilities are unbelievable and I’m delighted that all members will be able to benefit from the new technology. It’s more than a golf club now. It’s been a few years in the making so it’s great to be home for Christmas and see the finished product.”

Starting in January 2020, Holywood Golf Club will be offering an Overseas Membership category where golfers from around the world can join Rory’s home club and take advantage of full member benefits.
This will include playing privileges, use of the indoor simulators, individual golf lessons from the professional coaching staff, personal fitness screening from the new strength and conditioning facility and monthly ezine communication from the club listing tips and tricks from the Academy team.
A competition run with GOLFPASS in conjunction with NCBC Sports and GOLF Channel also saw three young golfers take part in a pop-up golf clinic with McIlroy and his lifetime coach, Michael Bannon.
The junior golfers; Kate Fleming, 13, from Elm Park Golf Club in Dublin, Ed Tomsett, 15, from Chippenham Golf Club, Wiltshire and Anya McKenzie, 17, from Eden Golf Club, Cumbria, were also given the opportunity to challenge McIlroy in a closet-to-the-pin contest and were treated to signed merchandise.
Jonny Caren, General Manager at Holywood Golf Club said; “It was a very special day to have Rory back home in Holywood where it all began for him as a junior, opening our state-of-the-art performance academy.

“It was amazing to watch the young junior competition winners as they were coached by Rory and Michael in the facility. It will undoubtedly leave a legacy for the next crop of young aspiring junior golfers coming through our youth system.

Holywood Golf Club is eternally grateful for all of Rory’s support that has helped set the club apart from every other golf club in the country, providing a facility second to none to the local Holywood community.”
Over 2,000 nominations were received for young golfers from golf clubs across the UK and Ireland but just three lucky winners got the chance to meet, compete and learn with Rory at his home club. The final three were chosen by a judging panel and represented a range of backgrounds and abilities.