As is commonplace this time of year, the closing hole of 2017 inspires us to both reflect on the last 365 days and look ahead to the next round. For Major Haversham and his Minions, we were honored to be a part of a record-breaking number of Memories that Last a Lifetime in 2017. But as we look ahead to 2018, there are many reasons to expect it to be yet another exciting year for golf travel across the pond. Here’s why…
Continuing a trend of recent years, the Irish Open will kick off 3 straight weeks of televised links golf when the tournament gets underway at Ballyliffin. We were delighted to see our friends at Ireland’s northernmost golf club honored with hosting duties and The Glashedy Links is sure to shine on the small screen. For any of the H&B Forces who have enjoyed a match with the members or Ballyliffin, this will be must see TV.
The view from the 7th tee at Royal Dornoch is, without question, one of the finest in all of golf. Some might say that the hole itself, however, is rather ordinary. That opinion may soon be a thing of the past, as the club has hired the design firm of Mackenzie & Ebert – the same team responsible for the transformation of Turnberry’s Ailsa – to shift the 7th green to the right, turning the hole into a slight dogleg. The ocean will serve as backdrop to the new green and the removal of gorse down the right side of the fairway will carry that spectacular view on the tee through the entire length of the hole.
The strong global travel economy has brought with it a variety of new options for flights across the pond in recent years. For example, Virgin Atlantic recently added service between Orlando and Belfast – and they plan to triple its capacity next year – while several ultra low cost carriers have entered the fray with numerous options between the U.S. and the major airports of Great Britain & Ireland. We expect this trend to continue in 2018, making the travel aspect of golfing Expeditions just a touch easier.
Over the last few years, Ireland’s newest seaside course has quietly taken shape just a stone’s throw from the links at Waterville. The Hogs Head Golf Club was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and is set to debut in 2018 after a soft opening in the fall. On the surface, successfully launching a new course amongst the historic links of Southwest Ireland may seem like a rather tall order. From what we’ve seen so far, however, Hogs Head should have no trouble making its mark on this golf-rich region.
After successfully hosting the Scottish Open in 2015, the tournament is set to revisit our friends at Gullane Golf Club. Rickie Fowler took home the trophy that year, but the real winner was Gullane who took advantage of its long overdue turn in the spotlight and garnered an abundance of praise from some of the world’s best.. In fact, it would not surprise us to see a mini-rota of sorts come about for the Scottish Open, with Gullane and Castle Stuart being founding members.
This was an entry in the 2017 “things to watch” and it is here once again as the project is now at a critical juncture. Plans for the proposed links course just north of Royal Dornoch have been submitted by the developers of Coul Links – Todd Warnock and Mike Keiser – for an official ‘Yay or Nay’ on the project. The course has the overwhelming support of local citizens, however a number of environmental concerns still remain. It’s expected the Highland Council will decide its fate sometime early in 2018.
Castlerock and Ardglass
Following in the nearby footsteps of Royal Portrush, our friends at Castlerock and Ardglass are currently working through course alterations and renovations of their own. At Castlerock, architect Martin Hawtree is implementing a variety of changes which are sure to enhance the Mussenden links. Meanwhile, down at Ardglass a number of new bunkers are being installed across the course. From what we’ve seen, these revetted pits are as intimidating as the opening tee shot here.
In addition to their previously mentioned project at Royal Dornoch, the design firm of Mackenzie & Ebert is hard at work at Prince’s Golf Club along the Channel Coast. There they are implementing a redesign of the Himalaya’s nine at the host of the 1932 Open Championship, long considered the weakest of the club’s three loops. Once complete, the club will have 27 exceptional holes to go along with a little of the Good Life at The Lodge at Prince’s. Call it nine more reasons to put the Channel Coast on your golf travel list.
Wishing you a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year, filled with an abundance of Golf at its Finest and Life at its Best.