Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category

More Mooney magic at Massereene

February 21, 2018

Damian Mooney

Damian Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf) was up to his old tricks at Massereene, striding away from the pack in the penultimate round of the Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance.
The Belfast golfer made it back-to-back Alliance victories courtesy of a superb seven under par 65. His bogey-free seven-birdie round gave him some room to manoeuvre ahead of second-placed Chris Carville (Belvoir Park).
Damian made a fast start to his round collecting birdies at the second and fourth holes, chipping in from just off the edge of the green at the second hole and wedging to one foot at the fourth.
After a drive and five iron approach, a chip and putt gave him another birdie at the par-five seventh and he closed out the front nine with his fourth birdie of the round.
Four pars followed before Mooney glued together a hat-trick of birdies from the short 14th hole, where he wedged to 18 inches. At the next, a three iron and a nine iron left him 10 feet from the pin and he rolled home that putt for another birdie three and he completed his hat-trick by hitting the 16th green with a drive and six iron, before getting home in two putts.
The final qualifying round in the Ping PGA event will be played at Donaghadee next Monday after which the leading 20 players will go forward to the final at Concra Wood on March 20.

Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance at Massereene
Professionals: 65 (-7) – D Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf).
71 – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).
72 – B McElhinney (North West), P McCarroll (Allen Pk).
73 – P Farrell (Laganview DR).
74 – V Teague (Loughgall).
Amateurs: Overall Nett, 38 pts – L McArdle 13 (Loughgall).
Category 1 (scr-8): 36 pts – A Adair 4 (Carnalea); 32 – W Havlin 5 (Greencastle).
Category 2 (9+): 37 pts – E Simpson 12 (Loughgall); 34 – P McKenna 12 (Whitehead).
Category 2 (14+): 37 pts – G Hamilton 15 (Shandon Pk); 35 – L Hale 17 (Shandon Pk).
Gross: 28 pts – J Johnston 7 (Belvoir Pk).
Team: 90 pts – Pro V Teague (Loughgall) with amateurs E Simpson 12, L McArdle 13 (both Although) & E Dorman 12 (Dungannon).


Copy courtesy of Tony McGee


R&A consider capping spectator numbers for Royal Portrush Open Championship

February 17, 2018

A visualisation of how the 18th green (the current 16th) will look in 2019

In an unprecedented move, the R&A is weighing up plans to cap spectator numbers at next year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
The historic nature of The Open’s return to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 70 years coupled with the potential for a resurgent Rory McIlroy has given officials a headache as they consider how best to deal with what could be record-breaking crowds.
Given that the Irish Open in 2012 at the same venue was a sell-out – with over 130,000 people filling through the gates – R&A officials are now pondering a move which would be a first in 140+ years of the celebrated major Championship.
Speaking earlier this week R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers said the issue was being given ‘serious consideration’.
“It’s not just the compactness [of the site], but what do fans really want, which is they want to get as close to the players as they possibly can, and that plays into how many people can we actually physically get into the complex, into the course and give them that experience. And so there’s a lot of work being done on that we haven’t concluded yet,” he said.

“I think there will be also a lot of Americans will be there, especially for the first time. I think it could be a big crowd. And if Rory keeps playing well, it’ll be an even bigger crowd.”

Last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, won by American Jordan Spieth, attracted record crowds for an Open on English soil with 235,000 people attending during tournament week which includes the practice days. It was the third highest ever, falling shy of the St Andrews Opens of 2000 (239,000) and 2015 (237,000).

To add some further context, individual daily attendance figures at the Open Championship regularly top 40,000. In 2014, when Rory McIlroy collected the Claret Jug at Hoylake, some 42,000 people came through the gates. Given that figure, upwards of 50,000 a day could well be expected at Royal Portrush.
Work is continuing apace at Royal Portrush to install the infrastructure needed to host the event next July which is set to include daily seating for approximately 20,000 spectators.
Two new holes on the championship Dunluce Links, designed by Mackenzie and Ebert and built specifically for the Open Championship were opened for play in July last year. The R&A will stage the Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and Portstewart from 14-19 August this year.

World Ranking points up for grabs at Faldo Series Northern Ireland Championship

February 8, 2018

The 10th at Lough Erne

The Faldo Series returns to Lough Erne Resort this year in a new July date and with valuable World Ranking points up for grabs.
The Faldo Series Northern Ireland Championship will welcome a strong field of young golfers to the Enniskillen venue (July 18-20) for the 11th Faldo Series event to be hosted in County Fermanagh.
“We were determined to make sure the tournament was World Ranking this year and to do that, we opted to make it a three-day event,” said Lough Erne Director of Golf, Lynn McCool.

“Historically the tournament was held in April and that worked very well but adding another day encouraged us to move the event into the summer during the school holidays and hopefully in some warmer weather. Now that it is a world ranking event, we are expecting to receive even more interest so prospective participants should get their entries in soon.”

Last year, Robert Moran won the Faldo Series Ireland event at Lough Erne by a single shot. The Castle Golf Club member fired an excellent final round of 69 – four shots better than any other player on the day – to book his ticket to the Faldo Series Grand Final which was held at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club in UAE.
“It’s a wonderful prize to reach the Grand Final,” added Lynn.
“The winners get to travel, to spend time in a learning environment and mix with other golfers from all over the world.
“In the past, we hosted the Grand Final at Lough Erne and Sir Nick Faldo puts a remarkable amount of time and effort into the week. It’s one of the reasons why the Faldo Series is now a huge global competition.”
This year’s Northern Ireland Championship will be played over three rounds on the Faldo Course at Lough Erne. The field will be divided into five age-groups – three for boys and two for girls – and the winners of each division will again join Sir Nick Faldo at the season-ending Faldo Series Grand Final.

Lynn McCool at Lough Erne

Lynn continued: “The Faldo Course provides a different challenge for these young players. They have to think their way around, especially when faced with risk and reward holes like the 10th and the 17th.
“To beat this course you have to be able to play every shot and you have to keep going right to the very end. The closing stretch of holes lend themselves to tournament golf because it’s never over until you’ve holed out on the last.”
Sir Nick Faldo created the Faldo Series in 1996 to give opportunity to young people through golf and to help identify and nurture the next generation of champions.
Supported by golf’s governing bodies, 40 annual tournaments now take place in 30 countries worldwide, spanning Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, and Asia. Past winners include major champions Tseng Ya-ni and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
Competitors aged 12 to 21 can now enter the Faldo Series Northern Ireland Championship with places in the Faldo Series Grand Final awaiting the age group winners.

To enter the Faldo Series go to

For more information on the Faldo Series visit You can also follow the Faldo Series on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Hanna and Graham take different routes to the top at Kirkistown

February 3, 2018

Peter Hanna

Peter Hanna is not letting the fact that he will become PGA Captain next year interfere with his own game.
The Lurgan professional was in fine form at Kirkistown Castle which stepped in to host the Alliance event after Knock GC was ruled unplayable.
It is the third time that Kirkistown Castle has stepped in to save the day and organising secretary, Phil Posnett, is pretty thankful for that.
“Kirkistown has been very helpful to us this season when weather conditions meant that some of our scheduled courses were not fit to take an event. Kirkistown has always helped out and did a very good job at the last minute,” said Phil.
Hanna and Gareth Graham (Groomsport) shared top spot with a pair of 69’s. Peter was particularly pleased with his putting.
“It was the best putting round I have had since winning at Belvoir Park in 2015,” said Peter who made an unsteady start at the second where he three-putted for a bogey five.
That was the end of his woes on the greens as he holed out well for the rest of his round. He drove the green at the third to 20 feet and got down in two putts for the opening birdie of his round and he added another at the fifth as he rolled home a 15-footer.
A drive and sand-wedge to three feet earned him another birdie three at the seventh hole before he dropped a shot at the par three eighth. After turning in one-under 34, Hanna topped his second shot to the 10th and was hauled back to level par before finishing with eight pars for his 69.
Graham birdied the long first hole where he chipped to six feet but gave the advantage back at the fourth when he put his eight iron tee-shot into the sand resulting in a bogey four.
Another missed green at the eighth cost him another bogey. He then went two-over-par with a three-putt on the 10th green but regained the lost ground with birdie threes at 13, where he holed from 12 feet, and 17, where he pitched to six feet.

Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance at Kirkistown Castle
Professionals: 69 (level) – G Graham (Groomsport Golf Range); P Hanna (Lurgan).
71 – G Wardlow (Spa), C Carvill (Belvoir Pk)
72 – B McElhinney (North West), R Whitford (Knock).
Amateurs: Overall, 39 pts – W Farrell 4 (Shandon Pk).
Category 1 (8&Under): 38 pts – W Havlin 5 (Greencastle).
35 – C Torney 6 (Clandeboye)
Category 2 (9-14): 37 pts – S Foster 11 (Massereene).
34 – S Goldthorpe 12 (Blackwood).
Category 3 (14&Over): 36 pts – K Gilliland 16 (Castlerock).
35 – G Arthur 15 (Massereene).
Gross: 72 – J McVicker +1 (Knock).
Team: 85 pts – Pro A McDermott (Galgorm Castle) with amateurs M Fleming 8 (Galgorm Castle), S Graffin 12 (Moyola Pk) & K Gilliland 16 (Castlerock)

Copy thanks to Tony McGee

Horan and Modest! Golf return to back NI Open at Galgorm Castle

January 26, 2018

Robin Sciot-Siegrist winner of the 2017 NI Open along with Mark McDonnell and Niall Horan.

Niall Horan and Modest! Golf are back on board for this year’s Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle.
Modest! Golf and Horan return for a third consecutive year and record crowds are expected once more when the European Challenge Tour event takes place at the Ballymena venue from August 16-19.
Horan and fellow Modest! Golf Director Mark McDonnell are currently at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai supporting their Modest! Golf players, Scotland’s Connor Syme and England’s Jack Singh Brar.
“We are delighted to announce Modest! Golf’s return to the Northern Ireland Open for the third year. The event has grown every year and we look forward to linking up with Galgorm Castle and the Challenge Tour once again,” said Horan who played alongside Rory McIlroy in the Pro-Am at the Emirates on Wednesday.
Over 43,000 spectators came through the gates at Galgorm Castle in 2017 to witness the drama unfold before Robin Sciot-Siegrist from France was crowned champion in the Shootout Sunday format.
This year, organisers have returned to the traditional 72-hole strokeplay format, which ties in with the long-term vision for future stagings of the NI Open.
“Last year Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, challenged all the major stakeholders in golf to do their bit to introduce golf to new audiences,” explained McDonnell.
“We played our part in that by attracting the biggest ever crowd to a Challenge Tour event with the introduction of Shootout Sunday.

“Interest in the NI Open has never been higher and we are excited to return to the traditional four days strokeplay and look forward to welcoming new audiences to experience the best Challenge Tour event in the world.”

The NI Open continues to be a family-friendly event and 2018 will be no different with plenty of activities and attractions to take place away from the fairways. The GolfNow Junior NI Open proved a big hit last year and will showcase the junior talent for a second time when played over the six-hole course at the Galgorm Castle’s Fun Golf Area.
The 2018 NI Open holds another key summer date on the international schedule. It is also a hugely important event for the development of Ireland’s professionals starting out in their career and looking to make their mark in the game.
“For years the NI Open has provided Irish players much-needed playing opportunities,” explains Gary Henry, Managing Director Galgorm Castle.
“Irish professionals have the chance to compete on home soil against some of the best players in the world in one of the best events on the schedule. Just as important, this event alone opens so many doors to other events across Europe and beyond by way of reciprocal invites, which helps players put together a playing schedule for the season.”
The NI Open is an integral part of the work carried out by the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) and the Team Ireland Golf scheme that provides grants and funding to players in the early stages of their professional career.
“This Challenge Tour event is so important to us as a business,” added Horan.

“Year on year, this tour develops the next generation of European Tour winners and Major champions and we can’t wait for the NI Open to play its part, both this year and in future years.

“We have lots of plans with Galgorm Castle to develop this event even further over the coming years.”
Tourism Ireland also plays a key role in the success of the NI Open, especially when promoting golf on the island of Ireland to an international audience.
Aubrey Irwin, Tourism Ireland, said: “The Northern Ireland Open is a wonderful event, giving us an opportunity to showcase our world-class golf courses to a huge number of golfing enthusiasts across the world.
“There is tremendous interest in this event, as part of the European Challenge Tour series, and Tourism Ireland estimates that highlights of the event will be broadcast to approximately 540 million homes, via Sky Sports and their 26 international broadcast partners, and through digital media.
“The 2018 Northern Ireland Open will once again shine a spotlight on golf here, helping us to highlight our superb parkland courses, which complement the world-class links for which Northern Ireland is known around the world.”

(The NI Open continues to be free to enter for all the family. To get your tickets for the 2018 event, simply register online at

Cathers grabs his moment in the spotlight at Royal County Down

January 25, 2018

Ardglass assistant, Adam Cathers, hung tough in windy conditions at Royal County Down to secure his first pro win at the PGA Links Trophy on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old fired a commendable level par 71 (36pts) to win the latest round of the PGA Links Trophy at the famed Championship course.
Adam opened with six pars before dropping his first shot of the day at the par three seventh when he failed to get up and down after missing the putting surface with an eight iron. He then failed to find the green with a three-iron approach at the ninth resulting in a second bogey.
The Ardglass player was up to the challenge and began his comeback bid with a lob wedge to six feet for a birdie three at the 11th hole.  He got back to level par with a birdie at the par-five 12th and reached one-under-par for his round when he drove the green at the par four 16th, two-putting from 25 feet.
However, the putting wasn’t so good on the last when he somehow managed to four-putt for a third bogey of the day after finding the green in two shots.
Thankfully, he still had a decent lead, ultimately finishing three points ahead of joint second place Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) and Peter Hanna (Lurgan).
The next Ping PGA UGA outing is scheduled for Knock on Monday.

PGA Links Trophy at Royal County Down scoreboard

North & West Coast Links take Irish golf crusade on the road to PGA Show

January 21, 2018

John McLaughlin (right), CEO of North and West Coast Links Golf Ireland, and John Farren (left), Manager of Ballyliffin Golf Club are pictured at last year’s PGA Show with 2010 US Open Champion Graeme McDowell

The eyes of the golfing world will be focussed on some of Ireland’s finest links courses this week when golf marketing company North & West Coast Links Golf Ireland attends The PGA Show in Orlando, Florida (Jan 23 – 26).
The PGA Show is the biggest industry golf show in the world attracting more than 40,000 visitors with over 1,000 media from 25 countries and this year’s event will see North & West Coast Links fly the flag for a number of Irish golf courses and hotels, including the spectacular Ballyliffin Golf Club, host venue for this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
To tee the week off in style, the company has organised an Irish Golf Day prior to the show on behalf of the Irish Golf Trade and in association with main sponsor Tourism Ireland, with over 100 golf tour operators, golf media, group leaders and Irish golf trade representatives signed up to take part at The Golden Bear Club at Keene’s Point, Orlando.
In addition to meeting with a range of delegates to attract more visitors to Ireland, North & West Coast Links will also be using the show to launch its new brochure and website
As a key part of the Tourism Ireland stand, this is the 29th year in succession that North & West Coast Links has attended the show, promoting a range of bespoke golf tour packages to member courses including Royal Portrush, host venue for The Open in 2019, Ballyliffin, Carne, Enniscrone, Donegal, Narin & Portnoo, Rosapenna, Castlerock, Portstewart, Ardglass, Galway Bay, Westport and Portsalon.
In addition to the golf courses, the company also develops tour packages with a range of partner hotels including The Ardilaun, Mount Falcon Estate, Harvey’s Point, Ballyliffin Townhouse, The Bushmills Inn, the Hastings Hotels group and many more.
North and West Coast Links CEO John McLaughlin said:  “The PGA Show is quite simply one of the most important industry events in the global golf calendar.
“Ireland enjoys a special place on the global golf stage with some of the best courses in the world supported by a unique approach to hospitality which makes it very marketable to international visitors.  The PGA Show provides us with an extremely valuable platform to meet industry representatives from over 100 countries.”

“The increasing world profile of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in recent years at some of the links courses we represent, including this year’s event at Ballyliffin, provides us with a very attractive proposition from which to develop bespoke golf tour packages with some of Ireland’s outstanding links venues.

“Interest to date has been significant from the US and various European markets and with The Open being staged in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush in 2019, links golf in this part of the world is really on the up,” concluded John.
The PGA Show runs from Tuesday January 23 to Friday January 26 at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, and showcases the latest trends in golf with more than 1,000 interactive exhibits that cover a range of sectors including equipment, clothing, training, technology and gifts, as well as golf travel and tourism.
Over the course of 2018, North & West Coast Links will target the UK, US, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and selected Asian Markets, taking part in over 30 International shows and events in its efforts to grow the valuable international golf visitor numbers to Ireland.

North & West Coast Links Golf Ireland is a Golf Marketing and Destination Management Company (DMC) that carries out a range of marketing activities for its member clubs on a cooperative marketing basis.  The company has 29 years’ experience of promoting Irish links golf to golf tour operators and golf enthusiasts around the world.

Copy courtesy of Duffy/Rafferty Communications

Paul Dunne, Leona Maguire and Paul McBride collect Irish Golf Writers’ Awards

December 27, 2017

Paul Dunne, the 25-year-old Greystones player, received the “Professional of the Year” award from the Irish Golf Writers’ Association at the annual awards, sponsored by Allianz, held at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links.
Dunne enjoyed a breakthrough year in just his second full season on tour with victory in the British Masters at Close House in England in October, where his chip-in on the 72nd hole – voted as the PGA European Tour’s shot of the month – gave him a closing round 61 for a total of 20-under-par 260, three shots clear of runner-up Rory McIlroy.
In a season where he jumped from 275th in the official world rankings up to a current position of 76th, Dunne – who had five top-10 finishes, including the win in the British Masters and a runner-up to Edoardo Molinari in the Hassan Trophy –  finished 16th in the final Race to Dubai standings with prize money of €1.7 million.
Leona Maguire, the world number one ranked amateur player, earned the “Women’s Amateur of the Year” award after a standout season in which the 23-year-old from Co. Cavan won the British Ladies Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig in Wales. Maguire beat Spain’s Ainhoa Olarra 3 and 2 in the final.

Maguire, a student at Duke University in the United States, was also the dominant player on the US collegiate circuit with five victories in the calendar year – the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, the LSU Tiger Classic, the ACC Championship, the Jim West Challenge and the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invite – where she was named WGCA Player of the Year.
Paul McBride, a member of The Island Golf Club and a student at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, was the sole Irish representative on the Great Britain and Ireland team which was defeated by the United States in the Walker Cup.

McBride, 22, reached the quarter-final of the British Amateur championship and made the cut playing in the Porsche European Open on the PGA European Tour. The top-ranked Irish men’s player in the amateur world rankings – currently ranked 41st – McBride played a critical role in Ireland retaining the Home Internationals where he was unbeaten and won four and a half points from five matches.
Gavin Caldwell, the former captain of the R&A, and Michael Moss, the retired general manager of Portstewart Golf Club which played host to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, received “Distinguished Services to Golf” awards.

Magnificient Mooney claims the spoils at Kirkistown Castle GC

December 22, 2017

Damien Mooney

Eight birdie Damian Mooney left the rest of the field trailing in his wake at the Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance event at Kirkistown Castle.
Damian (Damian Mooney Golf) shot out of the blocks, reaching five-under-par after seven holes. At the long first hole he was on the green with a drive and five iron to set up a birdie four.
He was short of the green at the third but chipped and putted for a birdie three. He rifled an eight iron approach to four feet for a two at the par three fourth and he then holed out from six feet for his third birdie in a row on the fifth green.
Damian drove off the seventh tee into a greenside bunker but got up-and-down for a birdie three which helped him reach the turn in five under par 30.
The Belfast golfer parred the 10th and reached six-under at the short 11th following a sand wedge to eight feet. The rollicking run was ended when he missed both the 13th and 16th greens and failed to get-up-and-down but those two dropped shots were recovered with back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th.
Brian McElhinney (North West GC) finished second following a three-under par 66 with David Hughes (Massereene GC) a shot further back in third.
Jason McLaughlin, a Greencastle three-handicapper, won the Category One amateurs’ section with 40 points while Julian Wilson, who plays off 20 at Shandon Park, won the Overall Nett prize with 46 points.
Mooney also led home the winning team with amateurs Rodney Clarke (Dunmurry), Luke Thompson (Kirkistown Castle) and Niall Gallagher (Hilton Templepatrick) combining to card 93pts.

Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance event at Kirkistown Castle Leaderboard

Thanks to Tony McGee

Gary McNeill and Brian McElhinney top of the pile at Portstewart

December 6, 2017

A pair of former Irish Amateur champions shared top spot at Portstewart GC in the latest round of the PGA Links Pro Trophy.
Brian McElhinney (North West) and Gary McNeill (Royal Portrush) posted rounds of one-under-par 64 on a course that was shortened to 16 holes (the second and third were closed).
McElhinney, who also won the European Championship as an amateur, raced to three-under-par after seven holes but a three-putt bogey five at the eighth left him out in two-under-27.
The Donegal golfer holed a putt from six feet at the first for a birdie, holed from four feet at the sixth and rolled in a 15-footer at the seventh. He finished short of the green at the par four 11th and failed to get up and down but that lost ground was regained at the long 14th when he chipped to gimme range.
He then lost a ball off the tee at the 16th but managed to scramble a bogey five before finishing with two pars.
Gary was a model of consistency over his opening seven holes, rattling off six pars and a birdie two at the sixth hole for a front nine of 28 but his approach to the 10th green was short and he failed to get up-and-down for par.
He hit back with birdies at the back to back par fives – 13 and 14 – but then slipped up again with a three-putt bogey at the 15th before closing out his round with three pars.
The fourth Links Trophy round, at Kirkistown Castle on December 18, with be the Christmas outing at which all players must, under fear of penalty wear a Christmas jumper.

PGA Links Trophy at Portstewart Leaderboard