Lough Erne Golf Resort: The Faldo Series Ireland Championship

The Lough Erne Golf Resort in Ireland, represented on tour by Rory McIlroy, opened on July 1 and the course designed by Sir Nick Faldo is already making quite a reputation, as Alan Hedley explains.

The Faldo Series

Faldo has also put his money where his mouth is by announcing The Faldo Series Ireland Championship will be there on August 24-25. Competitors will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous Faldo Series winner McIlroy, and Faldo said: "I’m delighted that our Ireland Championship will be moving to one of Faldo Design’s most anticipated projects this year."

I can certainly vouch for the fact that this course will be a real test for all of the competitors in Lough Erne’s beautiful and dramatic surroundings. The project has been designed with professional golf in mind, which makes it a fitting venue for a Faldo Series tournament – our aim is to help prepare these young players for the realities of the professional tournament and our course at Lough Erne will do exactly that."

Lough Erne is one hour from Londonderry Airport with flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted and ninety minutes from Belfast City and Belfast International Airports. The resort is located just five minutes from Enniskillen (St Angelo) private airport and is also accessible from Belfast International, Belfast City and City of Derry airports.

Lough Muckno is as scenic as Lough Erne, possibly more so and overlooking it is Concra Wood Golf and Country Club – an entirely different set-up from Lough Erne. Concra Wood was designed by Christy O’Connor Junior and Christy O’Connor Senior and opened only last year but its background is as fascinating as its design.

It is the latest stage in the evolution of the Castleblayney club, which started life as a nine-hole course in 1905 opposite the entrance to Concra Wood. That course closed in 1949, but in 1985 it was reborn in the grounds of Hope Castle before moving to its current location and expanding to 18 holes.

The idea for a new course began in early 2000 and Castleblayney bought 240 acres that tilts down into Lough Muckno. They raised the money themselves from club members and shareholders – and it’s easy to see why they have been able to persuade people to cough up the cash.

The views are spectacular, stretching across the Monaghan Drumlins and Mourne Mountains and also the Slieve Gullion and Mullyash Mountains. This, plus the lake and its scattering of islands, including Black Island, Otter Island, Crane Island and White Island make for a truly stunning setting.

The ruins of a folly (known locally as McMahon’s Castle), built by Lord Blayney, lies beside the eighth tee box while the Temple ruin is located between the ninth tee and fourth fairway. The shape and flow of the golf course is perfect. Woods and trees stretch their way around the course and between holes, of which 11 take you to the water’s edge and it will test your shotmaking and your stamina.

Work is progressing on a new clubhouse designed by former international amateur golfer Brendan Cashell with changing rooms, restaurant and bar, plus pro shop, tennis courts, bowling green, fitness suite and conference room facilities. A temporary clubhouse is currently in place with a bar area, golf shop and changing rooms.

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