Cliffs, divots and sand traps on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

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There’s only one useful golfer among the two co-owners of The Moodie Davitt Report and I’m not him.

That respective sporting status is reflected in the fact that Dermot Davitt played in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am this week and I did not. I was in fact invited to participate but given the fact that my average round includes more chips that can be found in all this beautiful town of Lahinch’s takeaway fish shops, I decided spectating was a better option.

Fearsome foursome: Dermot Divot, Russell Knox (last year’s champion), Sunil Tuli and John Sutcliffe
Dermot has to dig deep in every sense as he lands in a spot of bother at the third
Well someone’s got to work… interviewing Dermot ‘Divot’ live at Lahinch for The Moodie Davitt Podcast (click on icon below to listen)

And so The Moodie Davitt Report Interim Lahinch bureau is open. Lahinch is a lovely seaside town on the west coast of Ireland, about 55k from Shannon Airport, the place where the duty free industry was born back in 1947.

Shannon Airport was also where a certain Colm McLoughlin began his duty free career, on 1 June 1969. He has, of course, gone on to become a travel retail legend through his remarkable achievements at Dubai Duty Free. So there’s a lovely symmetry about the Irish Open golf tournament, for which Dubai Duty Free now enjoys the naming rights, being held in this part of the world just weeks after Colm celebrated his extraordinary 50-years in duty free career landmark.

You can hear Colm’s comments on the Podcast below, recorded while I walked the course yesterday, mostly in the company of Dermot ‘Divot’ as we call him; John Sutcliffe (long-time Aer Rianta International-Middle East boss and still a board member; and a fellow pioneer of Colm’s at Dubai Duty Free back in 1983) and Sunil Tuli of King Power Group HK. Take a listen to my on-course podcast with Sunil below – it may change your view of golf broadcasting forever.

[Sunil Tuli, one of India’s most famous tee planters, talks up his prospects for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am]

[Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Colm McLoughlin talks of his pride in bringing the event to Lahinch Golf Club]

[Catching up on course with industry veteran John Sutcliffe]

May the fourth be with you: Popular travel retail industry figure Jonathan ’Chaps’ Holland warms up on his starting hole, the 475-yard par 4 fourth. Worryingly, Chaps is facing the wrong way and hitting towards the Atlantic Ocean. “It’s the kind of target I can hit,” he told me.
Succesfully turned around, Chaps prepares to split the fairway. Which he did, while walking to his ball buried deep in the rough to the right.
Chaps gives Spanish tour professional Adrián Otaegui a few swing tips. In a clearly related development, Adrian would go on to miss the cut in the tournament proper.
“Over the hill?” asks Chaps. “Yes, I’m afraid you are,” thinks Adrián.
Sunil Tuli finds himself in a bunker on the third…
One shot later and Sunil still finds himself in a bunker on the third…
Another shot later and sophisticated Moodie Davitt ball-tracking technology shows that Sunil (if not his ball) has now advanced by seven inches towards the hole, though this time he did manage a miracle escape. So now you know why they call it a sand trap.

Today the Dubai Duty Free team took us to Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, the Cliffs of Moher. These magnificent cliffs, which rise to 702 feet (214 m) at their highest point, range over the Atlantic Ocean for some 8 kms. But the statistics barely matter – it’s the sheer grandeur and dramatic impact of the cliffs that matters. Little wonder then that the area has been designated a UNESCO Global Geopark, a special region renowned for its outstanding geology. The Cliffs are also a special protected area for seabirds with over 20 species represented, including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, peregrine falcons and the lovely puffins we saw so many of today.

The Cliffs of Moher form part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way – a stunning 2,500km stretch of coastline that encompasses seven counties. Today was a spectacular taster of the full course. I shall return to discover more.

Back to the golf. With the amateurs now cast, like me, as spectators, it’s time for the real thing and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is underway. It’s one of the premier events on the European tour and it bears one of our industry’s premier names. What an honour to be here.

Dubai Duty Free management and guests during a tour of the magnificent Cliffs of Moher

What a proud year this is for long-time Aer Rianta International Director General Eamon Foley, who is the 2019 Captain of Lahinch Golf Club, a superb course in pristine condition for the event
Top Spanish pro Jon Rahm paces out his approach on the 18th hole on day two

 

 

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