Golf Digest Ireland are proud to announce their 100th issue, making them true centurions of the royal and ancient game. One of the most notable journeys in Irish publishing began in May 2004 when the magazine’s cover story was an exclusive interview with Pádraig Harrington by Shane O’Donoghue, then with RTE and now the golf correspondent of CNN. While charting Harrington’s progress through the difficult, early years of a professional career, it suggested that he was ready to win a Major championship which, of course, happened three years later.
For regular readers of Golf Digest Ireland, this sort of prescience has since come as no surprise. Similar pride, for instance, was taken in a cover story from November 2009 which indicated that Paul McGinley was a front-runner to become Ireland’s first Ryder Cup captain.
As a special, celebratory treat, the 100th issue will have a special appeal for those sports aficionados who delight in a love of lists. In this instance, it is a list unique in the history of Irish amateur golf. Maintaining the centurion theme, respected golf-writer, Brian Keogh, has put together, in order and based on a special ranking formula, what he considers to have been the top-100 amateurs in the history of the game in this country.
Predictably, the list is topped by the incomparable Joe Carr, who had no real rival as the winner of 40 championships, including the British Amateur on three occasions. In fact there can be little argument about the top three, with Jimmy Bruen filling second spot followed by Garth McGimpsey, another British Amateur winner who captured a total of 14 championships.
But what about those in close contention? Should Tom Craddock not have been placed higher than eighth, given his pioneering position within the game in these islands, dating back to his days at an artisan at Malahide? And what about David Sheahan further down the list at 12th. Did his remarkable success in the 1962 Jayes Professional Tournament at Royal Dublin not merit a higher placing?
As fuel for further arguments, the magazine also includes a list of those notables who didn’t make the top-100. Among these, eyebrows may be raised at the exclusion of Monkstown’s Tom Egan, a highly regarded stroke-player who performed unprecedented scoring over nine holes in the East of Ireland Championship.
Maybe you will take a different view. Either way, both lists make for thoroughly absorbing reading, offering sufficient material for many a long argument at the 19th during the coming months. A wonderful old lady named Gladys Mansfield, who turned 100 earlier this month, claims that the secret of attaining such longevity was to “eat plenty and have a little drink of sherry at night”. For its part, Golf Digest Ireland concentrated on supplying its readers with a rich and varied diet of the best in golf-writing from both sides of the Atlantic.
Through a special arrangement with the American publishers of Golf Digest, access has been permitted to such splendid pieces as “No One Tells Tiger Woods What To Do”, by the leading US author, John Feinstein, and “It’s Not Easy Being Fred”, by the equally gifted Jaime Diaz.
Which made for quite a journey during which the rocky road through a major world recession, had to be negotiated. And while enduring as Ireland’s only monthly golf magazine, the publishers believe they have succeeded in maintaining the highest standards both of text and display.
Mind you, considerable help was forthcoming from the country’s leading players and golf administrators. The latter group were responsible for bringing some wonderful tournaments to Ireland during this centenary run, starting with the American Express Tournament which had the cream of the world’s players at Mount Juliet in the autumn of 2004. Two years later, the magazine was on hand to provide the complete story of the Ryder Cup at The K Club in 2006, which will live long in the memory. And five years further on, readers had cause to appreciate its unrivalled coverage of Europe’s wonderful Solheim Cup triumph at Killeen Castle.
All the while, a remarkable group of players were bringing unprecedented success to this golfing isle. Every aspect of Padraig Harrington’s three Major triumphs was covered by Golf Digest Ireland. And the magazine had become something of an old hand in the business when noting Graeme McDowell’s marvellous US Open triumph of 2010. And if this weren’t enough to sate golfing appetites, Rory McIlroy swept onto the scene with a US Open victory in 2011, followed by victory in the US PGA Championship 14 months later. Then, in between these victories, Darren Clarke filled our cup to overflowing with his memorable victory in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
Golf Digest Ireland likes to think of golf as a global family and nobody epitomised this concept more than the great Seve Ballesteros. So it was with heavy hearts that the passing was noted of the beloved conquistador, arguably the most charismatic player in the history of the game.
Now, with the game on an upturn again having come through difficult times, Golf Digest Ireland is ready to play an integral role in that resurgence.
And so, the magazine looks towards further excitement over the coming decade. It promises an exciting change of direction, a free-spirited approach to coverage of the game we all love. While retaining the highest journalistic standards, naturally.
According to publisher Linton Walsh, “It’s been a quite a journey. When we started 100 issues ago, there were no monthly Irish golf magazines until Golf Digest Ireland launched its first issue back in May 2004. It became and remains to this day Ireland’s only monthly golf magazine. Thankfully golf is growing again and so is Golf Digest Ireland, growing and changing. We celebrate a landmark 100 issues with many great articles but also mark a brand new design and editorial direction for the publication”.
Walton Media, publishers of Golf Digest Ireland also publishes the GUI’s Golfing Magazine and runs the biggest amateur golf tournaments in Ireland, as well as regional tournaments and corporate golf days, through their Golf Digest Events business. The company manages 23 events nationally, including The Golf Digest Volvo Open, comprising sixteen open golf tournaments on Ireland's greatest links and parkland courses, which offer the biggest prize fund in Irish amateur golf.