Royal Tara Golf Club member Pat Smyth was among the thousands who went to Lahinh for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open which concludes today. Currently involved in writing a book about Irish golf courses Smyth gives his assessment of the tournament.
"In recent years the Irish Open has had a few, ‘firsts’, with Ballyliffin Golf Club, (2018) Portstewart, (2017) and the K Club, (2016) all hosting the tournament for the first time. This year is a first for Lahinch and also a first for Co Clare. It is a worthy successor following the high standard of venues of the last few years. It is pleasing to note this change in direction and policy as it provides the opportunity for the host region to benefit from the economic benefit of staging the tournament.
"In previous years, Portmarnock hosted the event on nineteen occasions. Naturally, it also offers golfers in Munster and Connacht the advantage of seeing many of their favourite professionals play without the need for extensive and long journeys.
"For Lahinch Golf Club itself it is an honour and recognition of the role which the club has played over many decades and the esteem in which the club/course is held. Lahinch has long been regarded as one of the best links courses on the isle. There is no doubt the club's choice as an Open (Irish) venue will enhance its reputation and can only have a positive effect on the number of visitors playing the course.
"The fact that this region is part of ‘The Wild Atlantic Way’ should encourage oversees visitors to include it on a holiday itinerary. Many are likely to consider visiting or revisiting (for Irish visitors), the renowned scenic ‘Burren District’, in Clare itself. In addition, the nearby Tarbert Ferry, brings southern counties, especially Kerry into easier reach.
"It will always be acknowledged, however, that the main attraction was the excitement of seeing some of the worlds’ best pros in action. Many may regret the decision of Rory McIlroy not to participate this year but this should not have dampened the spirits or enjoyment of those who travelled. All of the very popular Irish and Northern Irish contingent, such as Clarke, McDowell, Lowry, Harrington, Power, Moynihan and Dunne entered. Russell Knox and Jon Rahm, winners for the last two years played, along with a host of other known names, Kaymer, Fleetwod, Pieters, Cabrera Bello, Fisher and Poulter. When the list of players is viewed it will be observed that many have not had recent successes but this does not mean that fortunes will change for one lucky player."