Many years ago, when golfers initially thought of a golf trip to Ireland, it was heavily focused on the southwest corner of the Emerald Isle. The links courses of Ballybunion, Lahinch, Waterville and the relatively new Arnold Palmer design at Tralee were the cornerstone of most trips to the region. During the intervening years much as changed. Ireland is definitely no longer a one trick pony for golf vacations.
Due to the plethora of choices to create a memorable week-long golf trip to Ireland, these are my Top 3;
Despite a distinguished amateur record, the San Diego resident played a limited tournament schedule in recent years. Becoming eligible for the Super Senior division, however, motivated him to practice. He delivered, withstanding the final round pressure of leading the tournament and holding off two-time defending champion Kemp Richardson.
“It was a chance to see a lot of guys I haven’t seen for a long time,” Knodt said. “I’m kind of surprised because I haven’t been playing any tournaments. Guess it shows I still have a little gas in the tank.”
Then again, no one in Southern California should be surprised.
Knodt dominated the Senior Division a decade ago, earning Player of the Year honors in 2009 and 2010 as he won the SCGA Senior Amateur and twice claimed the SCGA Senior Match Play title. He’s also a four-time San Diego Senior Am champion and 10-time club champion at San Diego Country Club, which was founded in 1897, has been at its current Chula Vista location since 1921 and has the reputation as the best conditioned course in the region.
In recent years, Knodt has focused on serving as a liaison between PerryGolf and the First Tee, organizing fundraisers for the 150 chapters nationwide. PerryGolf is a Silver Corporate Sponsor of the First Tee, which reaches more than 5 million kids annually, using golf to teach core values and develop healthy, productive citizens.
Knodt also hosts webinars for PerryGolf and escorts guests on a Tour on occasion, impressing several guests with his shotmaking and golf skill on a recent Escorted Tour to Australia and New Zealand.
Knodt brings a wealth of travel industry knowledge and experience to PerryGolf. Prior to coming on board six years ago, he spent three decades as the managing partner of Carefree Travel, overseeing a half-dozen retail stores across the San Diego area. He also owned and operated Special Event Cruises, providing continuing education programs at sea for doctors and dentists.
A strong player since college, Knodt received a unexpected stroke of good fortune while playing in a tournament in his mid-50s. He won six free golf lessons with San Diego instructor Bob Madsen and the partnership drove him toward improving his golf fitness and forming a plan that ultimately produced his early senior success.
“He turned out to be an amazing instructor and coach,” Knodt said. “He sat down with me for 2-3 hours and asked me what I wanted to try and accomplish. He laid out this plan to try and accomplish these goals. He had an unorthodox approach. The first two or lessons I never hit balls and he never put my swing on video.”
Knodt advanced to match play in the 2009 U.S. Senior Amateur at Shady Oaks, the legendary home of Ben Hogan in Fort Worth, Tex., finished top 20 in the British Senior Amateur at Walton Heath and dominated the competition around San Diego County and Southern California.
After selling his travel agency, Knodt’s relationship with PerryGolf began via email correspondence and subsequent two-hour phone conversation with president and co-founder Gordon Dalgleish
“I love Gordon and the whole group over there,” Knodt said. “They’re such a joy to work with and I love their business philosophy.”
Winning the SCGA Super Senior earned Knodt exemptions into several of the association major championships next year. He’ll play in four or five of those and continue his work with the First Tee, volunteering locally in San Diego and also helping coordinate the golf package auctions which raise money for the individual chapters.
And if you happen to run across him on the course, be certain to take the full allotment of shots your handicap allows. Chances are, you’ll need everyone of them.
PerryGolf’s Concierge Drivers play an essential part in any Customized or Escorted Tour. They fill many roles during your trip abroad – from recommending restaurants to sharing nuggets of local history and culture while also making certain every part of the Tour from the airport to the hotel to the first tee runs smoothly on schedule. This post is the third in anongoing series, during which we’ll profile the devoted, diligent Concierge Drivers who help PerryGolf guests: Play the Game. See the World.
While serving as Concierge Driver on a recent PerryGolf trip, Steve Outram faced a dilemma at the Dublin airport, where he was picking up 10 clients who were continuing an Escorted Tour.
Due to airline error, the golfers clubs did not arrive on the flight.
Such a predicament may have confounded a less experienced driver, however, Outram leaned on relationships built during his near three decades working for PerryGolf to make certain the golfers were equipped to play these ‘bucket list rounds.’
Right away, he called the head professional at Royal Portrush and arranged rental sets. Aware that Portstewart only had a half-dozen sets of rental clubs, he also asked the Royal Portrush pro if the golfers could keep the clubs an extra day and use them at Portstewart, located five miles down the coast.
“Because of the relationship and the attitude there was no issue at all,” Outram said. “That helped me out greatly. Another driver in the same situation, his golfers didn’t play for two days.”
Assisting others comes easily to Outram, a PerryGolf driver for 27 years. He doesn’t share the story because he intends to boast and while he’s certain there have been other similar incidents during his tenure, frankly, he tries to forget them as quickly as possible. By his estimate, nine times out of 10 a PerryGolf Escorted Tour runs smoothly without so much as a spilled cup of tea. But, when the uncontrollable travel hazards arise, Outram accepts the responsibility of making sure the clients needs are met. Securing a caddy can also be a challenge for guests in Ireland because the loopers often don’t work directly for the club and must be reserved in advance. Outram’s understanding of this nuance is just another way he can enhance the experience for PerryGolf guests.
Outram is a native of Bristol, in the southwest of the United Kingdom, who has called Ireland home for 40 years. He lives in the golfers haven of County Kerry, blessed with wonderful links such as Ballybunion, Tralee and Waterville, and has been involved in the Irish Golf Tour industry since its infancy.
“Tom Watson said a lot of good things about Ballybunion back in the late 70s and that more or less kickstarted golf tourism here,” Outram said. “Now we have the (Rory) McIlroy factor in Northern Ireland and the appeal of Royal County Down and Royal Portrush.”
Outram, 67, doesn’t play golf anymore. His knees won’t allow it. Yet he still shares the joy PerryGolf clients feel when they stride to the first tee at Ballybunion, glance toward the small stone fence separating the first fairway from a graveyard and begin their quest to conquer the venerable course.
From April to October, his typical season involves 10 to 12 tours. And the makeup of his clients has changed through the years, transitioning from male-only golf buddy trips to more couples-oriented tours these days.
On a recent Escorted Tour, he picked up four couples from the airport in Cork, delivered them to one of the wonderful links of County Kerry, and then took their wives on a sightseeing excursion.
While the men played the amazing Old Head, seeking birdies, the ladies kissed the Blarney Stone, hoping to capture its mystical eloquence.
“Every day is different. The wives add a bit of color and spark,” Outram said. “The variety of meeting the clients, every itinerary is made up differently because PerryGolf is taylor made to the clients request.”
Being familiar with the area enables Outram to make the proper dinner suggestion and handle reservations, if necessary. His experience also leads to giving each set of guests the requisite amount of attention.
Although he’s reached retirement age, Outram doesn’t intend to step away from the steering wheel anytime soon. He’s still happy to rely on his experience and local knowledge while delivering elite customer service to all who are interested in savoring the beauty of the Emerald Isle.
The final two spots in The Open are reserved for the champions of the Scottish Open and John Deere Classic – if those players are not already in The Open field.
PerryGolf is pleased to offer an array of Escorted Tours, Custom Tours and Cruises for golfers interested in tackling the majestic links of The Open rota and sites of Final Qualifying that are sprinkled throughout the British Isles. In addition we’ll guide you through the U.K. and Ireland’s multitude of other venerable layouts, including the familiar world renowned designs and the delightful hidden gems. Every package presents attractive options in course selection and trip duration, catered to fit the specific needs of each guest.
Anyone wanting to experience the action and excitement of The Open next year as it makes a historic return to Royal Portrush, join host PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish on a 12-night, 5-round voyage from Edinburgh to Southampton, including rounds at Royal Birkdale, Ailsa Turnberry and Royal County Down. Attend the final round of The 148th Open and watch the game’s best golfers battle for the Claret Jug. (See all the details below).
Those wanting to brush up on their history before next week’s championship by learning more about past champions of The Open will want to tune into “Chronicles of a Champion Golfer,” which is produced by the R&A. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and elsewhere, while the third season is currently airing on Golf Channel. We watched the Nick Pride episode recently and found it compelling. Price, a gentleman of the game, discussed serving in the Rhodesian Air Force during wartime, the impact of losing his father at a young age and near misses at The Open before he prevailed in 1994 at Turnberry.
This is the eighth time Carnoustie has played host to The Open and the links considered the most difficult in the rota certainly has carved its place in the championship’s rich, storied history.
Yet, it’s quite possible that one particular championship at Carnoustie – The 128th Open – will live forever in infamy. It was a unforgettable moment in golf history, and one, unfortunately that will always be recalled for the man who squandered the Claret Jug and not the champion who eventually claimed it.
Jean Van de Velde, a unheralded French pro, played flawless golf for 71 holes that week in 1999. He arrived at the tee of the daunting par-4 18th holding a three-shot lead, needing only a double bogey to secure the title. An errant tee shot was the first of a series of mistakes that ultimately created a three-way tie atop the leaderboard and a playoff won by Paul Lawrie of Scotland. (Here’s a good trivia question to ask while having a pint with your golfing pals: Who was the third participant in the playoff?).