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Parker Stancil: The Irish Open at Lahinch

Parker Stancil

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Organized by the European Tour, the 2019 Irish Open is being hosted by Lahinch Golf Club in County Clare. The breathtaking links club provides unbelievable views along the west coast of Ireland. Extremely steep cliffs and beautiful long beaches border the town of Lahinch, which is quite easy to see from the peaks of the enormous dunes clustered throughout the golf course.

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Me standing on the highest point of the Lahinch GC property.

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The view down #1 and #18.

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Lahinch GC clubhouse, which was a great spot for a sandwich and a pint.

Back in 1892, Alexander Shaw and Richard Plummer laid out the original plan for Lahinch. However, it was in 1894 that the infamous Old Tom Morris, designer of the Old Course at St. Andrews, envisioned the layout for Lahinch GC that brought in all the fame. With the help of Alister MacKenzie, codesigner of Augusta National, Lahinch GC was redesigned in 1927 and now challenges the best of the best to compete through the wild dunes, intense winds, and championship level playing surfaces. 

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Blind fairway shot off #3 tee.

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View from behind #5 green, which is only half visible from the tee. Good luck pinseeking!

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View from the tee of the gorgeous par 3, #8.

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Beware of “The Mine”... a mean little bunker in the middle of #6 fairway.

Lahinch GC has two sets of 18 holes, the Old Course (along the coast), and the Castle Course (more inland). The Castle Course doesn’t have the same elevation changes and wispy dunes like the Old Course, but it still provides an outstanding round of 18 holes. It was named the Castle Course because of the ruins of an old castle tower that still stands today, which is located on property. It’s a par 69 links style course that was designed by John Harris in 1961.

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The old castle ruins.

Being so old, you can bet that Lahinch GC holds a bunch of history. One of my favorite fun facts involves the club logo. The goat is incorporated in the logo because back in the old days, the club’s goats were your local meteorologists! If the goats gathered around the clubhouse, the weather was typically unfavorable for playability, however, if you could see that the goats were out roaming around the far side of the course, then chances were that it was a good day for 18 holes.

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Made a few new pals this week.

I joined in on the fun the Sunday before tournament week, and I had the pleasure of touring the course with the other lads volunteering for the week. The tournament greenkeeping team was well-prepared and had a high head count. With well over 50 guys working the grounds, Lahinch GC was kept in perfect condition.

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Starting to round up all the guys.

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Meeting the other volunteers for the first time. L to R: Ashley Marshall, Cian Murray, Colm Lawlor, Giles McDonagh, me, and Daniel Fisher.

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After meeting Giles at the Amateur Championship, I was happy to see him using his paint applicator and hole cutter again. L to R: Giles, Aidan Hiney, and Paul Coleman.

I was lucky enough to be on greens rolling duty for the week along with Dan Garrihy. He’s taken a different career path, but after a solid 5-6 years of greenkeeping at Lahinch, he’s a veteran roller. Also, shoutout to Tru-Turf for sponsoring the blogs! Their rollers provide outstanding results.

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Stay out of Dan’s way, he’s a speed demon!

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Working hard or hardly working?

The greenkeeping staff was blessed to be sponsored by John Deere this week. Extra equipment and tournament shirts were provided through the local JD distributor.

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“Nothing runs like a Deere!”

We had an army of greenkeepers… and I will emphasize it was an army.

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Here comes the cavalry!

Despite the enormous staff, Brian McDonagh, Head Links Manager, deserves all the credit. Countless hours and managing championship playing surfaces posed no threat to Mr. McDonagh. I was happy to see that the crew held good relationships with Brian, which is very important to make miracles like this week happen!

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Me and Brian. Below, celebrating Brian’s birthday with a cake from the staff.

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After working several tournaments, I believe the Irish Open may have been my favorite professional tournament so far. I enjoyed a week of meeting great people, seeing beautiful views, and watching some awesome golf! See you next year?

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Parker...your blog reminds of how much I enjoyed my rounds at Lahinch.  I actually loved the Castle course. And when I played it, I played with a local who had a keen game and a love for the whole place. That made it special.

Your smile is infectious and tells the story!! Thank you for sharing.

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