Portmarnock shines for Amateur; The 148th Open field taking shape

The 4th hole at Portmarnock is majestic.

The Amateur Championship (sometimes referred to as the British Amateur) was held last weekend at Portmarnock Golf Club, crowning an Irish champion, the 22-year-old James Sugrue in front of a large partisan gallery.

Sugrue joins an elite list of golf legends who have competed and won at Portmarnock, which is 10 miles north of Dublin City along a picturesque coastline. Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer partnered to win the Canada Cup in 1960 while Phil Mickelson and David Duval led the Americans to victory in the 1991 Walker Cup matches.

The course has played host to numerous championships over the last 120 years, beginning with the 1899 Irish Amateur Open Championship, won by John Ball, the finest amateur of the era, and was a regular site for the Irish Open from 1927 to 2003. The noted golf architect Martin Hawtree made minor renovations to the layout in 2003, stretching it to 7,466 yards and competitors in last week’s Amateur Championship raved about the course conditions.

Golfers who choose the Norman Flight on PerryGolf’s 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise (which includes attendance at The 149th Open at Royal St. George’s) will enjoy golf at Portmarnock and Royal Portrush, home of The 148th Open, which begins next month. They’ll play six rounds total on the 14-night voyage onboard the 690-guest Azamara Pursuit.

Golfers in the Lyle Flight will play two more of Ireland’s finest, the K Club Palmer Course – site of the 2006 Ryder Cup matches – and Royal County Down, which Golf Magazine in 2017 ranked No. 4 in the world – trailing only Pine Valley, Cypress Point and The Old Course at St. Andrews.

https://www.perrygolf.com/theopen/british-golf-the-open-championship-past-winners-champions.php

Alwoodley was Alister’s first masterpiece

Among the host sites were gems such as Panmure, located near Carnoustie on the east coast of Scotland. It’s the 16th oldest course in the world, designed by James Braid Jr. in 1845. With the championship being held in Ireland for the first time since 1951, having a regional qualifier at County Louth, a two-time Irish Open host, made perfect sense. Alwoodley is a heathland beauty and the first course designed by the legendary architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who was a charter member there. Harry S. Colt, a top architect of the era, approved MacKenzie’s layout, propelling a unparalleled career that produced Augusta National, Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne (West), Royal St. George’s and dozens more around the world.

Sprague’s earned a spot in the 156-man field at Royal Portrush by winning the Amateur Championship last week at Portmarnock. He can also expect invitations to the Masters and U.S. Open next year, assuming he maintains amateur status.

The quest to obtain a sacred spot in The Open began in earnest last Monday as regional qualifying took place at 13 courses scattered around the British Isles.

PerryGolf guests experience thrilling moments, create lifetime memories and build lasting friendships at these courses in England, Ireland and Scotland on Custom Tours each year from April – October.

https://www.perrygolf.com/theopen/british-golf-the-open-championship-packages.php

Final Qualifying for The Open occurs July 2nd at four different sites. (Golfers wishing to attend The Open can purchase tickets from PerryGolf, an authorised ticket provider). The top three finishers at each location secure the final 12 spots in the 156-man field. Being selected as a final qualifying site is a prestigious honor for any course in the British Isles, of course.

Prince’s is adjacent to Royal St. George’s and was the site of Gene Sarazen’s 1932 victory in The Open. Fairmont St. Andrews is a popular choice for visitors to the Home of Golf and a combination of the Kittocks and Torrance courses will be used for the Final Qualifying. The ninth hole at St. Anne’s Old Links is considered one of the finest in England while Notts Hollinwell is a masterful Willie Park Jr. design.

The Royals & Beyond: Enjoy these Must Play Courses in England

Royal Birkdale is where Peter Thomson won the first and last of his five titles at The Open. Member of the rota since 1954, Jordan Spieth prevailed there in 2017.

The 148th Open ventures to Northern Ireland this summer for the first time since 1951, returning to the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush. (One golf spot remains on PerryGolf’s cruise that will take you to The Open). Like the rest of the golf world, we can’t wait to see the renovated links and are eager to watch the game’s best golfers face the stiff challenge presented by the course, conditions and elements.

Attend the The Open at Royal St. George’s in 2020 with PerryGolf 

PGA champion Brooks Koepka, World No. 2 Dustin Johnson and defending champion Francesco Molinari head the list of exempt players. As of today, 97 players have earned entry into the field either through qualifying at sites around the world or receiving an exemption based on tournament performance and world ranking. The final rounds of qualifying will take place in the weeks preceding the championship at sites around the U.K.

This quest for the Claret Jug has stirred curiosity across the British Isles, where The Open rotates between a strong roster of courses in Scotland and England.

The “Royals” in England are a diverse quartet of links, bolstered by a rich tradition and formidable architecture enabling them to withstand the game’s advances in technology and Mother Nature’s fierce hand. In addition, England has other fine courses, often overlooked, that are regularly used for Final Qualifying in The Open.

Before you let PerryGolf take you to play these venerable layouts where champions have been crowned and reborn, let’s examine seven of England’s finest courses.

Royal Birkdale – Since joining The Open rota in 1954, it’s been the most regular venue other than St. Andrews. The course also has played host to more championships and international events than any course in the world since World War II, including Walker Cups, Ryder Cups, Curtis Cups and Women’s and Senior Opens. Ranked No. 1 in England and top five in the U.K., Birkdale was formed in 1899 but the current links was established in 1922.

Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s – Bobby Jones won The Open here in its 1926 debut on this links in Lancashire. En route to The Open title in 1979, Seve Ballesteros literally got up-and-down from a parking lot, which perhaps served as origin of a phrase used around the world when referring to golfer’s great short games. Esteemed golf writer Bernard Darwin described Lytham as a ‘just beast.’ Locke, Player, Thomson and Els also won here.

Royal Liverpool – Most folks call it Hoylake because that’s the village where the course is located. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have fond memories of the course, which is site of The 151st Open in 2022, because each rode supreme ballstriking to a major championship victory there. Woods’ victory in 2006 was particularly emotional because it was his first major since his father, Earl, passed away.

Royal St. George’s – The 149th Open will be held here, nine years after Darren Clarke finally broke through and hoisted the Claret Jug on his 20th appearances. Maiden, the par-3 6th, is a spectacular vantage point for spectators due its large mounds surrounding the green and the wicked wind which can wreak havoc on a golfer’s approach. Greg Norman shot a record 64 to win one of his two titles here at the southernmost course in The Open rota.

Southport & Ainsdale – Twice a Ryder Cup host, S&A was designed by the prolific James Braid and fits seamlessly in the rolling linksland. Many who have qualified for The Open in recent years first had to master S&A for 36 holes in final qualifying. Established in 1906, we’re fond of the first hole, a par-3 measuring 204 yards from the tips and the clubhouse, which offers the ideal setting for a post-round beverage and rehashing.

Hillside – Another fixture on England’s Golf Coast in the area around Southport, the 7,029-yard course wanders up-and-down sandhills and through towering pines to create a tranquil setting – until you try to par some of the holes on this beauty, redesigned by Fred Hawtree in the 1960s. The European Tour’s professionals will try their skills here in the 2019 British Masters.

Formby – Since 1884, golfers from across the U.K. have enjoyed the challenge at Formby, which combines the best of links and parkland golf in a delightful array of variety. The shots required here force golfers to mesh skill and strategy as they meander through the pines. Navigate the undulating fairways, avoid the deep bunkers and handle the gusting winds and you might just solve this riddle.

Italy: Blossoming Golf Destination

Villa d’Este is scenic and challenging and one of Italy’s many elite golf options.

Toward the end of Tiger Woods’ post-Masters press conference an Italian journalist asked the freshly jacketed champion about the 2022 Ryder Cup, which will be held for the first time in Italy.

Woods brushed off the query. The event is three years away. His answer was unimportant, anyway. The question – and the performance over the last year by Woods’ final round playing partner Francesco Molinari – are examples that golf is thriving these days in Italy, a country with 250 courses and 90,000 regular golfers.

Earlier in the week, before he squandered the 54-hole lead, Molinari was asked about golf’s growth in his homeland and to measure the impact of his impressive victory last summer in The 147th Open at Carnoustie.

PerryGolf’s 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise includes final round of The 149th Open.

“I think fortunately, golf is starting to be, you know, very different now from where it was when I was growing up, and dreaming of just purely being here one time and playing in one major, would have already been a dream coming true,” Molinari said. “So I think now, the situation is a lot better. Obviously I’m helping a little bit with getting golf in the news and hopefully, you know, kids will see more and more about me and about golf in general and pick up the game, and there’s going to be more Italians in the future.”

Molinari, No. 7 in the world golf rankings, wasn’t the only Italian golfer who competed in Augusta in April, either. Four ladies participated in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, giving another indicator of the game’s health in Italy.

With its Old World charm, beauty, culture and gastronomic delights, Italy has forever been a prime destination for travelers. Now, excellent golf options make it an even more attractive option.

PerryGolf’s Best of Italy Escorted Golf Vacation is a 12-night tour from Aug. 30th to Sept. 11th in 2020 delivering five rounds of golf, including a round at Marco Simone, site of the aforementioned Ryder Cup in September 2020. Located 10 miles from the center of Rome, the club was named for the castle on the property which was built during the Middle Ages.

Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane designed the original golf course in 1989 and Marco Simone won the bid for the Ryder Cup in 2015, selected over courses in Austria, Germany and Spain.

The 24 competitors in the 2022 Ryder Cup matches – and the guests on PerryGolf’s 2020 Tour – will tackle a completely redesigned golf course. Tom Fazio II (son of Jim Fazio) is working with European Golf Design to build holes that will test the best in the game. The renovation also creates a more efficient infrastructure, allowing the necessary room for hospitality suites and grandstands.

Golfers will continue to enjoy views of St. Peter’s Dome on a property enhanced with new ponds, lakes and an irrigation system for the golf course.

“We are truly honored and fully committed to host an ‘epic’ Ryder Cup,” Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, President of Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, told RyderCup.com. “We are excited to share our passion and to open our doors to every player, amateur and fan who wishes to be part of the spectacular transformation that is taking place. We are working to build a strong legacy for the next generation of golfers.”

Marco Simone will carve its place in the Ryder Cup’s storied history soon enough. It’s the centerpiece of any golfing journey to Italy but hardly alone in a discussion of the nation’s elite golf courses.

Firenze Ugolino opened in 1934. The layout, designed by U.K natives Cecil Blandford and Peter Gannon, ripples through the Chianti hills, accentuating the landscape of olive trees and indigenous vines.

On May 1st, 1983 the late, great Seve Ballesteros chipped in for eagle on the 18th hole in the final round of the Italian Open to force a sudden-death playoff with Bernhard Langer and Ken Brown, which he won.

Villa d’ Este, located near the beautiful Lake Montorfano was also designed by Gannon. The course sits roughly 1,200 feet above sea level and meanders through a variety of native woodland areas. A quaint par-69, this well-manicured course attracts the nation’s premier golfers annually.

PerryGolf has delivered seamless customized trips to the world’s premier international golf destinations since 1984. We are uniquely qualified to arrange every aspect of your vacation.

European Tour visits popular PerryGolf destination Doha Golf Club

The European Tour continues its trek through the desert this week, stopping in Qatar for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

The Doha Golf Club is a popular stop each year for the Tour’s professionals, who know they’ll enjoy ideal weather and a course in mint condition which offers plenty of scoring opportunities.

Eddie Pepperell is the defending champion and the tournament has produced a host of outstanding winners, including Branden Grace, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els.

No different than Al Mouj Golf, the Greg Norman designed layout where Kurt Kitayama prevailed last week in the Oman Open, the delightful course at Doha remains a popular option for guests enjoying one of PerryGolf’s Cruises to the region on the 690-guest Azamara Quest.

For starters, viewers tuning into the Golf Channel’s coverage this week will see a beautiful piece of property, featuring eight artificial lakes, 5,000 shrubs, 6,000 trees and 10,000 cacti imported from Arizona. What once was a bland parcel of rocks and sand has been transformed into a magnificent landscape with the city skyline presented in the background. The clubhouse is also a ornate beauty, crafted in the old, traditional Arabic style.

Like any proven championship course, the Doha Golf Club delivers a closing stretch which can create wild swings on the leaderboard. Walking in the footsteps of the pros, PerryGolf guests can take their swing at taming these holes, handling the shots presented here.

No. 16 is a 307-yard par-4 which most of the field can reach with a solid, accurate tee shot, presenting an opportunity late in the final round for the pursuers to chase down the leader.

The 17th is a short par-3 to a kidney-shaped green which is protected by a bunker in front and a collection of rocks to the left. Again, birdies will fly here as the golfers often encounter calm conditions and receptive greens, fostering an aggressive mindset with a short iron in hand.

The 587-yard par-5 finishing hole can create a thrilling finish. Eagles are available – but bogeys lurk.

There’s still time to join The 2019 Arabian Gulf Golf Cruise hosted by PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish.

PerryGolf is proud to offer multiple options for guests who wish to visit the alluring and exotic Arabian Gulf. In addition to excellent golf at courses such as Abu Dhabi and the Earth Course in Dubai – annual host to the European Tour’s DP World Championship, won by Danny Willett last November. That event serves as the final even in the season long “Race To Dubai” won by Francesco Molinari, capping a terrific season highlighted by his impressive victory in The 147th Open at Carnoustie.

Attend the 149th Open at Royal St. George’s

 

Top 3 Sightseeing Attractions in Australia – Off the Golf Course

Australia’s beautiful, mystical Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on Earth. It measures more than 1,400 miles in length and is visible from Outer Space. 

The timeless handiwork of Dr. Alister MacKenzie and architects of comparable acumen created incredible golf in the Melbourne Sandbelt.  There are myriad courses dotted across Australia that attract golfers and tourists to the land Down Under each year. It’s a particularly appealing destination to Northern Hemisphere residents eager to escape winter’s chill.

Of course, Australia is also a unspoiled country filled with appealing natural scenery, cosmopolitan cities of Melbourne and Sydney and home to some of the warmest, endearing and fun-loving people on Earth.

The Best of Australia Escorted 2020 is a popular journey with PerryGolf clients, featuring 12 nights and a half-dozen rounds of golf at gems such as Royal Melbourne, New South Wales and Barnbougle Dunes.

PerryGolf can fulfill your Australian dreams. Here are three sights not to be missed.

 

Sydney Opera House

From the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical to a John Lennon retrospective, ballets, plays, evenings filled with illusion and much, much more, there’s a diverse lineup of entertainment offered inside the iconic venue which U.S. architect Frank Gehry described as “a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology … that changed the image of an entire country.”

With more than 8.2 million annual visitors to the site, including 350,000 who tour the buildings, the Sydney Opera House is Australia’s top tourist attraction. It comprises multiple performance venues that present more than 2,000 shows to 1.5 million people each year, operating 363 days.

The Opera House enjoys a fascinating backstory. It’s located on Bennelong Point in central Sydney Harbour on what was known as Tubowgule – where the knowledge waters meet – to the native Gadigal people. They gathered here and danced, sang and told stories – a tradition that lives on today.

The Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, was awarded the project in a 1956 competition. He studied nautical maps of Sydney to better understand the landscape and crafted a vision in harmony with the area, capturing the spirit of the nation. With construction costs rising to four times what Utzon had projected, however, his relationship with the Australian government crumbled. And in April 1966, just halfway through construction, he departed the country and never returned again. The rising young Australian architect Peter Hall was appointed to take over and the Sydney Opera House enjoyed its grand opening in October, 1973.

“The human spirit must sometimes take wings or sails, and create something that is not just utilitarian or commonplace,” Queen Elizabeth II said at the ceremony.

 

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Considered the city’s most iconic structure, the Melbourne Cricket Ground was established in 1853, less than 20 years after Melbourne was founded. The nation’s primary stadium during 1956 Olympic Games, the MCG has also provided the stage for concerts by the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The 3 Tenors, Elton John and Billy Joel. Popes and leaders of nations have been welcomed here and the MCG also provided military housing for U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force during World War II.

Nestled in Yarra Park, a 10-minute walk from the heart of the city, the MCG is open seven days a week, located in Melbourne’s sporting center near Rod Laver Stadium, site of the Australian Open tennis championship. In addition to the epic cricket matches waged here, the stadium also is the home of Australian Rules Football, drawing near capacity crowds for the Melbourne Demons vs. the Geelong Cats and other rivalries.

The adjacent National Sports Museum features 3,500 objects from countless sports and is another must-see for visitors who share a love of sports and desire to learn more about cricket and the massive popularity it enjoys in Australia and around the globe.

(For more information on exhibits, tickets and opening times, visit here).

 

Great Barrier Reef

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and designated as a World Heritage Site, about one-third of the Reef is protected from fishing and other intrusive activities. Estimated at 20,000 years old, the Great Barrier Reef lies off Australia’s East Coast, contains an abundance of marine life and comprises 3,000 individual reefs.

A visitor to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy many experiences including snorkeling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, bare boats (self-sail), glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins.

 

Of course, don’t limit yourself to these highlights. Australia offers an array of sightseeing options and PerryGolf is thrilled to guide you Down Under, providing all the assistance necessary to help you enjoy the links and beyond.