Thursday, January 19, 2012

ireland The Next World-Class Venue?

A destination-worthy golf course -– one that its creator says will be good enough to “rank inside the world’s top 15” –- may soon take shape on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands off the western coast of Ireland.

Mel Flanagan wants to build the track, currently called Aran Links, on Gregory Sound, on property that he believes lends itself ideally to a venue that would be “created by God, polished by man.” The course would serve to boost the island’s tourism business, and for that reason his proposal has been warmly received by local authorities and the businessmen who’ll fund its construction.

Flanagan is a teaching pro at a club in County Westmeath as well as a course designer. As the principal of Longford-based Irish Golf Course Design, he’s designed several Irish golf courses, among them Dunmurry Springs Golf Club in County Kildare, Abbeyleix Golf Club in County Laois, and Rathcore Golf & Country Club in County Meath.

Flanagan hasn’t described Aran Links as a “minimalist” track, but he clearly thinks it could be built at minimal cost. In a 2011 conversation with the Irish Independent, he said that it’s “99 percent finished, in the sense that the land lends itself to a completely natural golf course.”

Flanagan hopes to open Aran Links in 2013.