Delayed or lost luggage is a frustrating fact of the travel lifestyle. If you travel enough, you have likely been subject to the cruelest game of wishing, particularly if you are on a golf trip and the item which is MIA are your golf clubs. This recent announcement by British Airways is an interesting development and one that I will track closely.Read more “Lost or Delayed Luggage: Enough Is Enough”
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.
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.
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.
Golf observers focused their eyes on the brilliant shores of Pebble Beach last weekend, watching the strong American pro Gary Woodland deliver an outstanding performance. His putt for birdie on the 72nd hole capped a three-shot victory over Brooks Koepka, who was seeking his third consecutive U.S. Open crown.
Now, the countdown has begun for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, July 18-21, only 26 days away. The field is taking shape as 97 players have secured their position in the field for golf’s oldest championship. PerryGolf is an Authorised Ticket Provider to The Open (sometimes referred to as the British Open or The Open Championship) and eager to help clients enjoy a day in the gallery on this historic links.
Leading up to The Open, which returns to the Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years, we’re thrilled to highlight not only the various qualifiers that will round out the 156-man field, but also the wide array of links and parkland courses available to our clients throughout the British Isles. While most golf fans are familiar with pillars of The Open rota like Carnoustie, Royal Birkdale, St. Andrews, Muirfield etc, the courses used each year for qualifying are remarkable in their own right and popular options for PerryGolf guests. In addition, summer is peak season for golf travelers and championships on the British Isles and we’ll be certain to highlight those marquee events as the calendar unfolds. You’ll learn more about the Lahinch Golf Club, site of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, July 4-7; Woburn Golf Club, a hidden gem in England where the Ladies British Open unfolds in early August and The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland.
PerryGolf is also an Authorised Provider of Guaranteed Old Course Tee Times, taking golfers to St. Andrews, the Home of Golf, site of The 150th Open in 2021. Zach Johnson lifted the Claret Jug there most recently (2015), Louis Oosthuizen rolled to a seven-shot victory in 2010 and Tiger Woods avoided the bunkers to prevail in 2000 and 2005, joining Jack Nicklaus (1970, 1978) as a two-time champion on the historic links.
Max Faulkner won The Open in 1951, the last time it was held at Royal Portrush, outlasting defending champion and local favorite Fred Daly, among others. Competitors this year face a reconfigured Dunluce Links course. Renovations were made in recent years to accommodate spectators and merchandise areas while also delivering a stern stretch of closing holes.
If you’re looking for a favorite, don’t overlook Brooks Koepka, who has been relentless in his pursuit of the game’s biggest events over the last four years. He finished 2nd-1st-2nd in the first three Grand Slam events in 2019 after winning the U.S. Open and PGA Championship to close the 2018 major schedule. Royal Portrush will be Koepka’s sixth appearance in The Open and he posted top-10 finishes in 2015 at St. Andrews and 2017 at Royal Birkdale. Not that Koepka needs an extra edge, but he’ll enjoy one. Longtime caddie Ricky Elliott, a fine player in his own right, is a Royal Portrush member who has played the course at least 300 times.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell also enjoy their share of course knowledge around Portrush and each is certain to receive rousing support from the local well-wishers.
Tiger Woods is in Thailand on vacation with his family and not expected to make another tournament appearance before The Open. Taking a similar length layoff did not benefit Woods at the PGA Championship – he missed the cut.
While Koepka is the clear frontrunner in Vegas (6-1 odds), the bookmakers don’t like Woodland’s chances to earn a second consecutive major championship. He’s 50-1.
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.
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.
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.
“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.