GOLF REWIND: Writer Cup returns to birthplace as Northern Ireland win anniversary contest at Lough Erne Resort
Long before Shane Lowry was finishing his famous final round at Royal Portrush in July to lift the famous Claret Jug, the Irish media corps were already thinking ahead to the biggest event of the 2019 season.
The Open Championship had returned to the North Antrim coast for the first time since 1951, it was fitting that the far West of the Province was about to stage the 10th anniversary of the Writers Cup.
The challenge between the golf writers in Northern Ireland and those from the Republic is the highlight of the golfing calendar - even when The Open Championship - comes to these shores.
And it was apt, in the anniversary year, that the Tourism NI backed Writer Cup would return to where it began, Enniskillen and the Lough Erne Golf Resort.
The best laid plans quite often go awry and heavy rain days before had threatened the playing of the competition, but while the overhead threat cleared for the first day’s competition, the adjacent Castle Hume course, which was to stage the first round fourballs, was waterlogged and the decision was made to play the Nick Faldo designed Lough Erne course over both days.
That perhaps did not leave many disappointed as the opportunity to play the vast expanse of the challenging, but fair, Lough Erne in successive days was more than acceptable.
The stunning five-star Lough Erne Resort, voted one of the top golf resorts in Ireland, offers 36 holes of golf on its Faldo and Castle Hume courses and amazing views over the beautiful Fermanagh Lakelands.
Not surprising water comes into play a lot, with no less than 11 holes involving the dreaded wet stuff.
Host to the G8 Summit of World Leaders in 2013, the resort offers fantastic golf, an award-winning Spa and fantastic dining.
The Faldo Court is ranked in the top 100 in the UK & Ireland. It measures 7,071 yards from the tips and is a Par 72. The course record of 68 was set by professional Rory McIlroy and still remains unbeaten.
The Faldo Course is a round where you will remember every hole and every shot. Each hole has been individually named in line with its individual traits and a tribute to the local area and each is beautifully framed in the natural landscape. In the words of Sir Nick himself: “I’ve played golf on every continent in the world and I can honestly say I am overwhelmed by the location and beauty of Lough Erne Resort”
The Faldo Course is a must-play venue for society outings, tournaments, corporate and fundraising events and for those who just want to experience 18 of the very best golf holes in Ireland.
Their pristine greens have hosted top professional and amateur golfers alike including the annual Faldo Series and two Lough Erne Challenge Events with Irish golfers Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy all participating.
Although we did not get to play the Castle Hume Course, from previous experience, it offers some equally challenging holes.
The par 72, championship course flanked by Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne is over 6,800 yards long and first opened in 1992. The course features stunning views, manicured fairways and well contoured greens, over seven thousand trees and thirty bunkers.
Castle Hume has been host to an unprecedented 10 Ulster PGA Championships. The signature hole, Ely Island, is an alluring Par-3 of 139 metres, with an accurate tee shot essential.
More details on golfing experiences are available at: https://www.lougherneresort.com/golf-offers
The resort also includes an impressive hotel restaurant, the Catalina Restaurant The seasonal menus feature both classic and contemporary dishes with a strong allegiance to local produce. The hotel rooms offer luxury and comfort.
Meanwhile, back on the golf course, the Writer Cup pits the North v South over two days in a Ryder Cup style format and it is keenly contested.
The Northern Ireland team were determined to find their winning mojo which had seen them denied a hat-trick of successes in 2018 when the Republic found their form to make it six outright wins.
Indeed, victories for the North had been rare in the previous 10 years, having won it at Lough Erne at the inaugural event before getting their hands back on it in 2016.
In 2019 the Day One Fourballs was a tense affair with no one really getting a strangle hold, the day finishing 2.5-1.5 in the Northerners favour.
It meant the Day Two Singles were going to be hotly contested and the lead swung back and forward in the early stages, before the North powered ahead eventually taking back the trophy with a 7-5 success.
While golfers around the country wait patiently to get back onto the closed courses as a result of the Coronavirus Outbreak, Northern Ireland offers some of the top places to play.
There will be a real scramble once the regulations change.
As for the Writer Cup, the scribes will be happy to wait another year to contest for the coveted trophy.
For further information on golf in Northern Ireland, visit www.nimadeforgolf.com and for general destination information go to www.discovernorthernireland.com