The European Challenge Tour 2016 will make two stops in Ireland this year.
The first port of call will be Ballymena’s Galgorm Castle, home of the 2015 Northern Ireland Open. This year, in the absence of the Irish Open the event will be the premier professional golf tournament to be staged in the province. The competition will run from 28-31 July.
In September, Mount Wolseley will again set the stage for the Volopa Irish Challenge – this year’s event may well be poignant with the loss of tournament ambassador, the late Christy O’Connor Jnr (course designer). An early autumn date is scheduled (8-11 September) with a prize fund of €180,000 on offer.
Both courses can be enjoyed by you leading into the Challenge Tour events. Catch the courses in their manicured magnificence this year.
Galgorm Castle are currently running an open series until the end of March from as little as £15 per round. Summer opens start from £20 while general weekend rack rates are £60.
Mount Wolseley, during 2015 held a regular series of open events with prices ranging from €21-€26 and were open to all, we should expect something similar when they release the summer 2016 listings.
So, go on, challenge yourself this year at either championship course.
In general, the outlook is good. Strong dollar/sterling versus euro rates , a 9% VAT rate in the hospitality sector, and, the long-standing view that Ireland is a safe place to visit.
These are three, of many factors that compliment an effective, high-impact marketing campaign by Fáilte Ireland, making this island an attractive destination.
Where does golf fit into this? – This, is still uncertain.
A quick scan across numerous platforms indicate that golf tourism has largely fallen off the agenda, perhaps, left to private tour companies, various club alliances and individuals to promote.
The last activity on the @Golf_Ireland account was in March 2014, the final golf related entry on the Fáilte Ireland website was also March 2014 while over on Discover Ireland things are slightly better with some content added in 2015, however tabs generally lead to dead ends.
Golf in Ireland is an accessible and popular activity and should be restored into the “package tourism” programme.
Played over three days (4/5/6 July 2016) it takes shape in a 3 person team format, golfers can compete for team and individual glory with a generous prize fund of €6000 on offer.
You can book your place here. The deadline for early bird spots has passed but great value still exists at the rate of €139 per golfer (consider that rack rates for these courses during peak summer can reach €140)
It’s a unique golfing experience on the edge of the world and one event, that’s not to be missed.
And now, the end is near; and so you may face the final curtain.
They’ve stated their case, of which, they are certain.
The Council of National Golf Unions Limited (CONGU) recently announced a number of revisions to the CONGU manual. The much debated and most talked about relate to the handicap system and the degree of increases (or in some instances, decreases) you can incur in a calendar year.
From the Golfnet website:
Among the most significant changes in the 2016 edition of the manual are:
• Exact Handicaps: In Ireland lowest exact handicap is now restricted to 1.0 stroke increase in a calendar year.
• Four Ball Better Ball Handicap Allowance: In stroke play each partner will receive 90% of their full handicap, and in match play the back marker now concedes strokes to the other three players based on 90% of the difference between the full handicaps rather than 75% (3/4) as at present
• Reinstatement of Handicap Status: The reinstatement of a competition status handicap requires a player to submit 3 qualifying scores (which could be 18 hole competitions, 9 hole competitions or Supplementary Scores both home and/or away)
• Continuous Handicap Review: To assist with this process there will now be a computer generated report which highlights those players with 7 consecutive 0.1 increases. Handicap Committees are now recommended to review the performance of such players and to give due consideration to applying a handicap increase where applicable or required.
• Dates – The handicap year will now follow the calendar year,1 January to 31 December, and a player’s handicap will be based on scores returned within that period
In 2015, County Offaly native, Shane Lowry, after a day of Houdiniesque escapes, produced one – a wondrous wedge from what Lowry himself described as “a pretty horrific lie”.
127 yards to carry, from the rough, over a tall tree and a bunker to a pin cut tight left, was it on? Of course it was on, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and another life changing moment was the prize.