By Brian Keogh
Portmarnock's prestige as Ireland's top links got a triple boost this week.
The north Dublin track hosted former Irish and US Open champion Michael Campbell when he turned up for a company day on Thursday.
Today, the US Walker Cup side will touch down for a practice session ahead of next week's clash with Great Britain and Ireland at Royal County Down.
But the famous links will host a massive event from September 11-12, when players from American clubs such as Winged Foot, Olympic, Pine Valley, Oakmont and Garden City do battle with the hosts and Irish clubs Sutton, County Sligo, Lahinch and Royal Portrush for the inaugural Carr-Mara Trophy.
The event has been set up to commemorate the memory of the late Joe Carr and American football legend Wellington Mara, the Irish-American tycoon who owned the New York Giants and negotiated the NFL's first major TV deal.
Portmarnock's Joe McAleese, explained: "Myself and Leonard Horan, the President of Winged Foot, felt there should be a golf tournament to commemorate these two great men, who died around the same time.
"The concept was that five Irish clubs would honour Joe Carr - one from each of the four provinces where he won his championships.
"Lahinch, where he won the South, Portrush the British Amateur, Portmarnock the Irish Close, Co Sligo the West and Sutton as his home club.
"The American clubs are Pine Valley, Winged Foot, Olympic, Oakmont and Garden City and each club will have a team of eight with a two players in the scratch tournament, three in the category for handicaps four to eight and then three more in the seniors tournament.
"It will be held in Winged Foot in 2009 and come back to one of the Irish clubs in 2011 and so on."
The Carr-Mara Trust will also administer an annual four-year scholarship for an Irishman or woman to New York's Fordham University, where Mara was educated.
McAleese added: "The scholarship will be financed by the NFL clubs down the years. We have yet to decide on the parameters for the scholarship, but it may not be simply based on golfing ability."
Mara, who died in 2005 aged 89, was known as "The Duke" and for many years, the NFL’s official football was called The Duke in his honour.
Explaining his nickname, Mara said: "It’s from the name Wellington, the Duke of Wellington. My father said that the Duke of Wellington was a great fighting Irishman.
"I picked up the nickname when I was around the team and the players called me The Duke. It didn’t bother me. I preferred it to Wellington."
In a rare response to a sportswriter, frustrated with poor performance from the also-ran Giants of the 1970s, asking: "What can you expect from an Irishman named Wellington, whose father was a bookmaker?" Mara later said: "I'll tell you what you can expect - you can expect anything he says or writes may be repeated aloud in your own home in front of your own children.
"You can believe that he was taught to love and respect all mankind, but to fear no man. And you could believe that his abiding ambitions were to pass onto his family the true richness of the inheritance he received from his father, the bookmaker: the knowledge and love and fear of God and second, to give you - our fans and our coach - a Super Bowl winner."