Posts Tagged ‘Royal Portrush’

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.

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Team NI target three-in-a-row following sensational 2017 Belfast golfing experience

January 4, 2018

Team NI celebrate Writer Cup 2017 success

Whisper it quietly, but the worm may have turned.
Northern Ireland’s golfing journalists retained the Writer Cup in 2017. That’s right, two in row! So long the whipping boys, Team NI has finally found a backbone.
The eighth edition of the Writer Cup – the Ryder Cup style event hosted by Tourism NI that pitches Northern Ireland journalists against Republic of Ireland journalists was played at Holywood GC and Royal Belfast GC.
While most of the golfing focus in Northern Ireland gravitates towards our classic links venues – Royal Portrush, RCD, Portstewart etc – Belfast can provide a unique golfing experience of its own.
Nine-holers, municipal courses, Championship venues – Belfast has pretty much every option available. There’s driving ranges and even an indoor facility – Citi Golf – when the conditions take a turn for the worse.
Staying and playing in Belfast means you can make the most of a city that has been branded ‘the best place to visit in 2018’ by top travel guide Lonely Planet.
Inspired by the surroundings of Rory McIlroy’s home course, Team NI completed a day one whitewash in the fourballs at Holywood GC to grab a commanding 4-0 lead.
The teams were treated to a wonderful evening meal at Belfast’s McHugh’s Bar after which they retreated to their base for the evening, the Hilton Hotel, near the iconic Waterfront Hall.
Team ROI had a mountain to climb in the day two singles which were staged at the historic Royal Belfast GC.
Needing just two points to retain the title a comfortable victory appeared on the cards for the ‘home’ side.
In the end, the outcome was much closer than anyone expected with ROI winning the singles 4.5 to 3.5.
It was not enough (thankfully) to prevent Team NI collecting the trophy for the second year in succession by a 7.5 to 4.5 margin. Can they make it a hat-trick of successes in 2018?

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Holywood GC and Royal Belfast are both situated just outside Belfast within 30 minutes drive of the Hilton Hotel.

Plans for new clubhouse at Holywood GC


Holywood GC

Holywood GC has recently embarked on an ambitious development plan which will transform the club in the next 18 months.
The clubhouse is set for a major upgrade to include new facilities including, a state of the art fitness suite, an indoor golf simulator and entertainment room and a Golf Academy complete with the latest technology.
In preparation for these changes, the 18th green has already been moved further away from the clubhouse and remodelled. The course is an 18 hole undulating parkland neighbouring Redburn Country Park. It overlooks the city and Belfast Lough with views that are unrivalled in the area.
To score well requires accurate driving as opposed to length and good approach shots are needed to find the greens.
Rory McIlroy stated that; “Holywood was a great course for me to learn the game on, it has all the traits that develop your game from playing it regularly. It helps you to learn to shape your shots, places emphasis on your short game and creates more versatile and adaptable golf game through the variety of different shots encountered. I have no doubt that the course helped me to become the golfer I am today.”

Looking down in the eighth green and to the left the ninth fairway at Royal Belfast

Royal Belfast
Founded in 1881, Royal Belfast Golf Club lays claim to the title of the oldest golf course in Ireland. The present layout dates back to 1925, when responsibility for the design was handed to the now revered course architect Harry Colt.
With the assistance of Walker Cup player W.A. Murray, Colt produced a course of great charm which provides a true test of skill and enjoys unrivalled views of Belfast Lough and the Antrim plateau beyond.
Royal Belfast is always meticulously maintained with impeccable greens and groves of rhododendrons and gorse providing a colourful backdrop in spring. There is a secluded, timeless feel to the club, one that has attracted the likes of tour players Michael Hoey and Rory McIlroy to play and practice at the venue.
At the heart of its varied challenges is the constant requirement for accuracy rather than length, providing all levels of golfer with a fair test of golf. The numerous bunkers and subtly sloped greens ensure that posting a low score is indeed a difficult feat.
It offers a stern golfing challenge, and the club has hosted numerous championships, most recently the Senior British Open Amateur Championship won by Spain’s Macarena Campomanes Eguiguren

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

Belvoir Parks’ Chris Carvill takes top honours at Whitehead UGA event

November 10, 2017

Chris Carvill

Chris Carvill clocked up another impressive PGA Northern Branch victory at Whitehead GC.
The Belvoir Park professional posted 39 points (67) on his way to success in the Ping Ulster Golfers’ Alliance event.
Chris made steady progress through the opening third of his round, collecting a birdie at the par-five third.
He dropped a shot at the seventh when he found the trees off the tee but got back on track with a 20-foot birdie putt at the eighth to turn in 34 (-1).
The Belvoir man added four pars at 10,11,12 and 13 before grabbing his third birdie of the day at the 14th from close range. He parred the 15th and collected another birdie at the 16th but slipped back following a three-putt bogey at the 17th.
He wrapped up his round in style, firing a five iron into eight feet at the last and rolling in the putt to finish one shot ahead of Gary Wardlow (Spa GC).
Eddie Dorman, a Dungannon 15 handicapper, took the amateurs’ top nett prize with 38 points while the gross award went to Balmoral’s Liam Jennings who carded 29 points.
Next outing for the professionals will be on the Valley Course at Royal Portrush, next Tuesday, when the second round in the Links’ Trophy will be played.

Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance Tournament at Whitehead – leaderboard

Professionals: 67 (-3) – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).
68 – G Wardlow (Spa).
71 – V Teague (Loughgall), P Farrell (Laganview DR).
72 – B McElhinney (North West).
74 – G Graham (Groomsport DR).
Amateurs: Nett, 39 pts – E Dorman 15 (Dungannon).
Gross: 29 pts – L Jennings 3 (Balmoral).
Category 1 (8&Under): 38 pts – W Havelon 6 (Greencastle).
Category 2 (9-13): 36 pts – N Gallagher 11 (Hilton Templepatrick)
Category 3 (14 & Over): 37 pts – A Beattie 14 (Mourne).
Team: 90 pts – Pro V Teague (Loughgall) with P Girvan 9 (Killymoon), E Dorman 15 (Dungannon) & D Duffin 16 (Dungannon).

Info courtesy of Tony McGee

Rowan Lester finds key to success at North of Ireland Amateur Championship

July 15, 2017

Rowan Lester (Hermitage) winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship sponsored by Cathedral Eye Clinic at Royal Portrush Golf Club with (l-r) David McMullan (Capt. Royal Portrush), Eamonn O’Connor (Chairman GUI Ulster Branch) and Andrew Spence (Cathedral Eye Clinic).
Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Rowan Lester (Hermitage) staged a back nine fightback to win the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush on Friday.
Three down after seven and struggling for consistency off the tee, the 21-year-old beat home favourite, Colin Fairweather (Knock) by two holes.
“I knew I was playing good. I knew that if I could keep it solid and not have any bogeys that I would get back,” said Rowan who fired a course record 64 (-7) on the Valley Links during qualifying.
“In match play, three is comfortable. Two or one up is never comfortable. I knew just to hang in there.
“I always like leading. When I go down I normally find it hard but today I knew I was going to come back.
“I didn’t necessarily think I would win but I knew I would get back and make it tight. I just had that feeling.”
A student at Texas Wesleyann University, Rowan found himself out of position off the tee on a number of occasions but superb up and downs on the ninth and 10th, kept him in touch with Fairweather as bad weather closed in around the final.
“Nine and 10 were key. If I had lost those holes it was game over basically,” he added.

“I kept laying up to a number that I like. I did the same on 12, hit a really good shot into seven feet. Winning that hole was big.”

Rowan Lester lines up a putt on the eighth green

Fairweather still led by one at that stage but the momentum was clearly with Lester and he pressed on.
He added; “I got a big half on 14. It’s always a tough shot into the green. I was completely out of position but from there I didn’t miss a shot.
“I said to myself standing on the 15th tee, ‘if I can play the last four in level par I will win’.”
He levelled matters at the 15th with a par to Fairweather’s dropped shot, halved the 16th, won the 17th to go ahead for the first time and wrapped up the match in style with a fine approach to the home green.
A beaten finalist in the 2015 South of Ireland Championship, Fairweather was left to rue a missed opportunity.
“I was playing well at the start and had it going straight off the tee then he got the momentum coming through on the 12th,” said Colin.
“When he won that hole and was able to get on the tee ahead of me he was then able to get into his rhythm which I found hard to cope with.

“I was never really on my A game all week. I battled around all week but I just fell short.”

Colin is waiting for surgery to treat varicose veins and was feeling the effects as the week wore on but refused to blame that for defeat.
“I noticed it at the start of the season and as the summer has worn on it has got more achy,” said the 26-year-old.
“It is such a weird thing to have but I got an injection and I got a stocking on it at the start of the week that took most of the pain away. It’s not an excuse.”

Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship match play results

Fairweather digs deep to reach last four at North of Ireland while Gleeson loses his head

July 14, 2017

Alex Gleeson gets ready to tee off on the eighth

Knock’s Colin Fairweather battled some bad weather and an on-going leg injury to reach the semi-finals of the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship yesterday.
The 26-year-old Irish International is suffering from circulation problems and needed an injection just to make the first tee on Monday. As a precaution, he opted not to play any practice rounds and after starting slowly, he has worked his way into the tournament.
On Thursday he beat Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park) and then Derek Downie (Kirkistown Castle) to set up a last-four meeting with leading qualifier Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk GC).
“I finally holed a few putts there which was a help for the confidence going around,” said Fairweather.
“The putting in qualifying was fine but you know what it’s like, each day can be different.
“On the first day I struggled with my whole game. It was only my ‘B’ or ‘C’ game.

“I am slowly getting the confidence back and finding a way to get it around. It’s coming together.”

His opponent this morning, Caolan Rafferty, got a scare in the last 16 yesterday when he was taken to the 19th by Tandragee’s Ross Dutton. The Dundalk man didn’t make the same mistake in the last eight, beating Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock) 4&2.
“We both got off to a slow start, then picked up a wee bit but the rain swept in which doesn’t allow for any good golf,” said the 24-year-old.
“My bad golf was better than Darragh’s bad golf. I think we can agree on that one.

“It was a struggle this afternoon. Some of it was tired golf and the rest was the elements. I will try and get the feet up this evening and get ready for the morning.”

The other semi-final this morning will see Alex Gleeson (Castle) take on Rowan Lester (Hermitage).
If Gleeson does win the title he will have to do it without an eight iron after the club broke mid round in his 2&1 victory over Paul Murphy (Rosslare) yesterday afternoon.
“I was playing the 13th and the head of my club flew off at impact and landed in a bush,” said Alex, the reigning Irish Close Champion.
“I couldn’t find it, but it shouldn’t be too much problem to get around it tomorrow using a seven or nine iron.”
Lester proved too strong for Ronan Mullarney (Galway) in the final match of the day, winning 3&1.
A student at Texas Wesleyan University, he wasn’t happy with his morning display in beating Cian Geraghty (Laytown/Bettystown) 2&1.
“I was struggling a bit with the long game. I wasn’t committing to the shots but I did that better this afternoon,” he said.
The semi-finals get underway this morning at 8.30am.

Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship match play scoring

RESULTS
Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush
Round 3: D Downie (Kirkistown Castle) bt J Murphy (Kinsale) 3&1; C Fairweather (Knock) bt G Lappin (Belvoir Pk) 2 holes; D Coughlan (Portmarnock) bt A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 1 hole; C Rafferty (Dundalk) bt R Dutton (Tandragee) at 19th’; A Gleeson (Castle) bt E Smith (Laytown & Bettystown) 3&2; Paul Murphy (Rosslare) bt F Mason (Moor Hall) 6&5; R Mulranny (Galway) bt J Yates (Naas) 4&2; R Lester (Hermitage) bt C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 2 holes.
Quarter-finals: Fairweather bt Downie 2 holes; Rafferty bt Coughlan 4&2; Gleeson bt Murphy2&1; Lester bt Mullarney 3&1.

Lester on top after opening day of North of Ireland Championship

July 11, 2017

Rowan Lester (Hermitage) Picture by Pat Cashman

Irish international Rowan Lester (Hermitage) leads the way after the opening round of qualifying at the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
A quarter-finalist in 2015, Lester, playing The Valley Links, carded a bogey-free seven under par 64 on the revamped course.
He leads Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle), Robert Brazill (Naas) and Ronan Mullarney (Galway) by a shot heading into Tuesday’s second round at the Dunluce Links.
“I struggled a bit at the start but adjusted on the eighth tee and from that point on I was really good,” said 22-year-old Hood who will play The Dunluce today (Tuesday).
“I was seeing the lines better on the greens and rolled in a few putts.

“The two new holes [on the Dunluce] are really good. The par five (seventh) isn’t as daunting as I first thought when I saw it and the eighth is a really good par four. It forces you to be aggressive off the tee.”

Kirkistown GC vice-captain, Neill Simpson, turned in the leading opening day score on the new Dunluce layout, a three-under par round of 69.
Simpson quit golf for almost 20 years but has returned to competitive action after rebuilding his swing under with PGA professional, Charle Bell at Blackwood GC.
His tactic of leaving the driver in the bag paid dividends as he was one of only two players – the other being Galway’s Colm Hughes (-1) – to finish the day under par on the new Open Championship layout.
Defending champion, Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo), is well placed to make the cut after an opening round of two-under par 70 on The Valley.
The leading 64 players after Tuesday’s second round of qualifying will progress to the match-play stages.

Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship leaderboard

The Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship
At Royal Portrush
Leading scores after 18 holes.
1 Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 64 -7
2 Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 65 -6
3 Robert Brazill (Naas) 65
4 Ronan Mullarney (Galway) 65
5 Gregory Royston (Cotswold Downs) 66 -5
6 Hugh O’Hare (Fortwilliam) 66
7 Cathal Butler (Kinsale) 66
8 Paul Murphy (Rosslare) 66
9 Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 66
10 Colin Fairweather (Knock) 66

North of Ireland competitors to test Open lay-out at Royal Portrush

June 1, 2017

Stephen Ferris, Brand Ambassador Cathedral Eye with Andrew Spence Cathedral Eye, Eamon O’Connor Chair GUI Ulster Branch and  John Bamber, Chair of the Open Championship Committee launching the Cathedral Eye North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship 
Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

Fancy a taste of the Open Championship?
The revamped Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush will host this year’s Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship (July 10-14) and the GUI is still accepting entries.
The famous North Coast links has been upgraded ahead of the Open Championship in 2019 and club officials are keen to see how the new lay-out performs in Championship conditions.
The new seventh named Curran Point and eighth hole named Dunluce will be put into play and competitors will finish their rounds at the current 16th hole
“We have no evidence how the new seventh and eighth holes will play other than what professional architects have told us will happen,” said John Bamber, Chairman of the Open Championship Committee.

“The North of Ireland gives us the opportunity to get 300 top class golfers out there giving us data which will allow us to decide how we play those holes in the coming months.

“It is the perfect opportunity, a field of category one golfers, championship golfers, playing the course. What better way to assess the two new holes. I just hope we get relatively fair links conditions during the tournament.”
The new holes, designed by MacKenzie & Ebert, will actually open for play on June 24th to host Mr David McMullan’s Captain’s Day competition. For the members, it will be the first time they get to sample the course as it will be configured for the Open Championship.
“In many ways it is an historic occasion,” added Bamber.
“The last time two new holes were added to the Dunluce, people like Harry Colt were involved.
“I know that in previous years we have revamped a number of tee boxes but this is completely new. It really is something very special.”
The current 17th and 18th holes will be removed from play towards the end of the summer as work continues to create the infrastructure to host the Open Championship.
The closing date for entries into the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship is June 12. For more details visit http://www.golfnet.ie.

Ciara Casey claims Ulster Women’s Championship

May 31, 2017

(l-r) Ray Gregg, Hon Sect, Ulster District ILGU; Ciara Casey (The Hermitage) and Dr Joan Millar, Chair, Ulster District ILGU

Ciara Casey (The Hermitage) was crowned Ulster Women’s Champion at Moyola Park on Tuesday beating Emma Forbes (Royal Portrush) 2&1 in the final.
Casey, a member of the ILGU’s High Performance panel, who won the Leinster Girls’ Championship in 2015 was made to battle hard by Forbes.
The pair were locked together after nine holes and Casey found herself one down after 12 but she finished strongly, winning the 15th, 16th and 17th to grab her first senior title.
“I’m absolutely delighted, it was a great week at Moyola Park,” said the 19-year-old who will take up a golf scholarship at Maynooth University in September.

“There was some really good golf played in the final. I was approximately one under through those opening nine holes. Emma played well but I just sort of hung in there towards the end and kept making important pars.”

The Junior Championship was won by Temple’s Dawn Scarborough who beat home favourite, Mary O’Kane 4&3 in the final.
“I was slightly surprised to be honest, especially after watching Mary hole a putt of around 40 feet on the first,” said Dawn, a 12 handicapper.
“I have played in the Ulster Championship for a number of years and it does prove that once you make it through the stroke play qualifying anything can happen in the match-play stages.”
Massereene’s Lucy Simpson, who topped the stroke play qualifying rounds with a total of 152, one shot ahead of Casey, was forced to withdraw from the match-play rounds following a family illness.

Ulster Women’s Championship results

Magical McElhinney makes it two wins on the bounce at Royal Portrush

January 29, 2017

Royal-Portrush-Golf-Club
For the second time this month and the third time in four events, Brian McElhinney topped the leaderboard at an Ulster Golfers’ Alliance tournament.
The links specialist, a former British Amateur champion, claimed another UGA win at Royal Portrush in the PGA Grand Prix.
The North West pro posted a six-under-66 to finish one shot ahead of Belvoir Park assistant Chris Carvill. McElhinney carded three birdie fours and five birdie threes with two bogey fives stopping the rampage on the run in.
Putting was the secret of the winner’s spectacular round.
He rolled in a 20-footer on the fourth green for birdie three, chipped to eight feet at the next for another three, and pitched to four feet from 70 yards at eight for his third three.
He then brought his big hitting into play, being pin high left at the long ninth hole and getting down with a chip and putt for birdie four, and an outward tally of four-under-par 32.
A drive and three wood to 12 feet set up another birdie four at the 10th hole before he made his fourth and fifth birdie threes at 12 and 13. He holed a 10-footer at 12 and a 15-footer at the next hole.
The Donegal man then had his first lapse of the round when he missed the green at 16 which resulted in a dropped shot but he regained the lost ground when he pitched to three feet for a birdie four at 17, before he finished with his second bogey five on the 18th after he put his five iron approach into a bunker for a back nine of 32.
Local member Matt McAlpin, a plus-one handicapper, topped the amateurs’ gross board with 40 points. The Category One prize was won by Ardglass four-handicapper David Madine on 36 points, while Gary Smyth, who plays off nine at Kirkistown Castle, won the Category Two award with 39 points.
Best in the Butterball Team event were Castle Hume pro, Shaun Donnelly and amateur Michael Dallat, a Galgorm Castle scratch player. Their winning score was 44 points.

PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance Grand Prix at Royal Portrush

Selected scores
Professionals: 66 (-6) – B McElhinney (North West).
67 – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).
68 – D Mooney (Nevada Bobs Belfast).
70 – A Cathers (Ardglass), G Wardlow (Spa), S Donnelly (Castle Hume).
Amateurs: Gross, 40 pts – M McAlpine +1 ( Royal Portrush).
37 – M Malone 2 (Belvoir Pk)
36 – M Dallat scr (Galgorm Castle),
Category One: 36 pts – D Madine 4 (Ardglass).
Category Two: 39 pts – G Smyth 9 (Kirkistown Castle).
Team Betterball: 44 pts – Pro S Donnelly (Castle Hume) & Amateur M Dallat scr (Galgorm Castle).
With thanks to Tony McGee