While the golf course is now closed to members that doesn't mean its all quiet. The first competition starting on Monday and Tuesday, June 27 and 28. It’s the new look G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour. This 10-person event in Mount Juliet is behind closed doors.
Matt Sandercock, Direcgor of Golf at Mount Juliet, presented the winning trophy to Lucas Herbert at the 2021 Dubai Duty Free irish Open. Herbert will be back to defend his title
On Wednesday, it’s Pro-Am Day - one of my favourite days from last year’s tournament.
“There’s a bit of a change around this year, as the Ams will get to play with two professional golfers," explained Matt Sandercock, Director of Golf at Mount Juliet Estate. "They will have a pro for nine holes and a different pro for the next nine holes, so it will be a different team dynamic and fantastic as they get to play with two of the world’s best players.”
Sponsors and members also play the Pro-Am, making up the field with following celebs golfer Leonia Maguire, former Ireland and Manchester United footballer John O’Shea, TV personality and entrepreneur Spencer Matthews, actor James Nesbitt, rugby star Rob Kearney, Olympian Greg O’Shea, former Galway hurler Joe Canning and three-time Derby-winning Jockey Johnny Murtagh, former Ireland international soccer stars Robbie Keane and Stephen Hunt, snooker legend Ken Doherty and ex Kerry footballer Tomás Ó Sé along with world number one Disability Golfer Brendan Lawlor, and popular Today FM broadcaster Dermot Whelan.
They will join Irish golf heroes Shane Lowry, Pádraig Harrington and Séamus Power on the pristine fairways at the Kilkenny venue, in the traditional curtain-raiser for the main event.
Speaking of the main event, I quizzed Matt Sandercock for his top pro’s picks for the tournament. Matt and his fellow pro golfers at Mount Juliet Golf Club – Sean Cotter and Chris Blackmore already have their hit list picked.
“I’m going with Thomas Peters, Sean has Tyrrell Hatton and Chris went for Ryan Fox," he said. For our wildcard picks, Chris went for Marus Armitage, and I’ll be putting my power behind Kilkenny’s Mark Power.”
“The course is in great condition," he added. "Martin Lehane and his greenkeeping team stepped it up from the learnings of last year. We have narrowed some of the fairways in and we have the rough deeper. The greens technically look smaller because we made the roughs deeper around them. The lake is cleared out so that’s more intimidating!”
The course info could be good news for Ireland's Seamus Power. “Seamus Power is one to watch too," added Sandercock. "Irish Golf could do with him to win, it would be a good boost for the game. Seamus’s game suits here, a US based game with the ball in the air and a great driver of the golf ball. He could do really well; our course will suit him.”
Martin Lehane, Head Groundskeeper
Head Groundskeeper, Martin Lehane has a lot of ground to cover for the Horizon Irish Open. When asked how tough this year’s course is, he smiled and said, “Its slightly tough but not overly!”
“We made a few improvements and cleaned up a few areas. There’s an impressive logo of the Mount Juliet pheasant set on the hill on the 14th Hole. The lake on the 18th Hole has been cleaned out, which makes it more playable when the golfers come up to the final hole. If they end up in there, it will be in the water now and not like before ending up in the rough, where it used to be a bit of a swampy area.”
With 4.30am starts it’s a busy week ahead for the groundskeepers and greenkeepers team, made up of approximately 27 staff, looking after 300 acres of golf course, on top of the gardens.
Last year there were less grandstands and marquees to get around and the weather was on their side. The team are all currently praying for rain, as the grounds are getting a bit too dry, so the sprinklers are in action.
Martin also shared some good tips on the best viewing points. "With this year back to full capacity, it's going to be a great atmosphere. The best viewing point in my opinion is the stand at the 17th Hole. From there you have a bird’s eye view of the 16th, 17th, 18th and 1st Holes.”
Details around parking, travel & the public shuttle service to the tournament. https://www.europeantour.com/free-park-ride-for-all-spectators/ Tickets are still available for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 29 – July 1. https://experiences. dpworldtour.com/irish-open/
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