Teenage golfing starlet Darren Scott will be packing his bags and heading to Sicily’s Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA in the New Year after winning a five-star golfing break to the luxury destination in a national competition.
The 13-year-old, who plays off a handicap of seven at Clandeboye Golf Club on the outskirts of Belfast, beat off fierce competition from 19 other talented juniors to take top honours in the final of the 2014 Darren Clarke Golf Tour, which was played at Headfort Golf Club in Kells, Co. Meath.
It was a close-run affair for Darren, whose victory over Shea Smyth was only confirmed on countback after both players had returned nett rounds of 72, and he is now looking forward to a luxury four-night holiday for two to Donnafugata after taking the top prize.
Donnafugata’s wide array of five-star facilities include two 18-hole championship golf courses while the resort opened a new Darren Clarke Centre of Excellenceearlier this year – the only one of its kind in continental Europe.
As well as enjoying four nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation, Darren and his father Ken, who will accompany him on his trip, will also be treated to three rounds of golf each on a choice of Donnafugata’s two courses, the Links and Parkland – host of the Sicilian Open in 2011.
Ken said: “This is the first major competition that any of my family has won. We’ve never been to either Italy or Sicily before and we’re very excited about going to Donnafugata.
“For someone who loves his food, Darren was unable to eat his meal before the prize-giving due to his anticipation and excitement after he found out he’d won. The journey home took just over two hours, during which he never shut up and kept phoning and texting family members and friends.
“Since Darren started playing golf at the age of six, we have always holidayed in Florida and he has attended a few summer golf camps while there. This holiday to the excellent five-star Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA will be totally based around Darren’s golf and getting the most out of the facilities of the Darren Clarke Centre of Excellence.”
Darren has been a regular attendee at the Darren Clarke training camps, which are organised by Darren Clarke Golf, and the 2011 Open champion provided the early inspiration for his fledgling golf career after meeting him in 2008.
The teenager, a pupil at Bangor Grammar School, had no idea he was in contention to win the 2014 title until he had finished his round and his father revealed he is aiming to use the dream holiday to Donnafugata as the next stepping stone to achieve his ultimate goal of securing a golf scholarship to a university in Florida.
Ken, 54, who is married to wife Janet, 53, said: “Thankfully Darren was unaware of the score of the other players other than the two he was playing with. He went out to play his own game with the view of playing the course rather than the other players. So he made each shot count, I had never seen him as focused and relaxed before.
“He was very pleased with his round but it wasn’t until he returned his card that he discovered how well he had played in comparison to the rest of the field.
“It was a joy to watch him as he kept his cool throughout and didn’t get stressed during the round. As it was his first national final, I found it more stressful than Darren and I felt as if I was taking every shot for him. It was the end of a long summer of competitions and what a way to end it."
The Darren Clarke Golf brand has gone from strength to strength since opening its first full-time school in Antrim, Northern Ireland, and has achieved great success developing players such as Allan Dunbar and Paul Cutler, who progressed onto the European Tour.
This year’s Darren Clarke Golf Tour, supported by TaylorMade, saw more than 100 youngsters compete at eight events in two regions – four in Northern Ireland and four in southern Ireland – for the chance to qualify for the grand final.
A host of well-known venues including Holywood – world number one Rory McIlroy’s home club – Royal Belfast, Royal Curragh and Luttrellstown Castle were used for qualifying, with the top ten players with the three best qualifying scores from each region progressing to the final for the opportunity to win the holiday to Donnafugata.
Guy Roberts, director of golf at Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA, said: “Winning the final of an event like this is a fantastic achievement for a 13-year-old. We’re looking forward to welcoming Darren and his father to the resort and giving them the chance to experience a holiday they will never forget.
“It’s been another year of tremendous progress for Donnafugata and Darren and Ken will have the opportunity to play two of the new stars of European golf, our Parkland and Links courses, as well as using some of the continent’s best new golf facilities.”
Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA has won widespread acclaim across the golf industry since opening in 2010 and its new Darren Clarke Centre of Excellenceoffers a variety of tuition packages and individual lessons for golfers of all abilities aged six and above.
Located just 15 minutes from Comiso airport and set in the beautiful area of Donnafugata, a natural reserve and famous tourist destination known for the imposing castle which bears the same name, the Resort boasts a number of fantastic historical cities to explore nearby. These include Val di Noto, the heart of Sicilian baroque; Ragusa Ibla, Modica, Noto and Scicli. All are deemed fitting of UNESCO World Heritage status.
As well as its outstanding golf facilities, Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA has 202 rooms, an award-winning 900mq spa and health club, two swimming pools, two private beaches and three restaurants offering a broad selection of ‘0km food’ locally-sourced gastronomic delights, well accompanied by perfect Sicilian wines to enhance flavour.
For more information on Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA or to book a stay, call 00 39 0932 914 200 or visit www.donnafugatagolfresort.com.