Given that ordinarily, we would be in the midst of a Major week of links golf with The Open, sometimes referred to as The British Open or The Open Championship, it only seems fitting that our guest for this week’s Greenside Chat is Ken Goodwin, longtime Secretary of Prestwick Golf Club. Ken shares some of his fondest memories at Prestwick and helps us discover some of the mystique that surrounds the first ever Club to have hosted The Open (1860).
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.
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.
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.