Slieve Russell a home from home for Maguire twins
Leona and Lisa Maguire at Slieve Russell Hotel, Golf & Country Club in Co Cavan

Leona and Lisa Maguire at Slieve Russell Hotel, Golf & Country Club in Co Cavan

Playing a Solheim Cup on home soil at the course where they learned the game would be a dream come true for Leona and Lisa Maguire.

It's a long way away for two of most successful Irish women ever to play the game, and as they take their first steps in the professional game, the Co Cavan twins owe everything to the stunning Ballyconnell venue just a stone's throw from their family home.

"If it weren't for the Slieve Russell, Lisa and I wouldn't even be playing golf. It's a simple as that," said Leona, who is now ranked 174th in the Rolex World Rankings following two wins on the Symetra Tour this season. 

"We owe an awful lot to the Slieve Russell, and we have been so lucky to have such a fantastic venue two minutes from the house.

"Ask anybody up there, we spent many a day and many an hour on the putting green, on the par-three and on the course. The new tie-in with the PGA is a fantastic opportunity for them, and they are very excited about it."

A Solheim Cup bid is a long way down the road, but Leona dares to dream and believes a Ladies Irish Open is a logical first step for a venue that remains one of the top parkland tests in the country.

"I think the idea behind the Solheim Cup is that they'd love to get as European test event as well and we have been lucky to have Irish Ladies Opens that have been a great success, so I suppose the aim is to get one back," she said. "It would be fantastic if it were at the Slieve Russell for Lisa and I. Exciting opportunities come with PGA status,  so it's great. 

"It's a great course. There are plenty of tee options, and they can grow the rough and tighten in the fairways and the greens are generally lovely and fast and pure so they can get them as quick as they want and set some tricky pins. There is potential there if they ever applied for the Solheim.

"The signature hole is the 13th, the par five, hitting over the iconic SR. It has one of the trickiest greens on the course, and you get rewarded for going for it in two. If it's into the wind, it's a brilliant three shotter. It's a tricky hole but a great one.

"There's a good mixture of tough holes and scoring chance, and the par-threes are very strong. The fourth is a good chance, the seventh is a long downhill one, which requires a lot of accuracy. 

"You are going off the men's tee with quite a long club, and the 11th and 16th are great holes with the water."

Slieve Russell has been fortunate in its choice of PGA professionals with Gordon Smyth the key to its bid for PGA status.

"Gordon is a great pro, coming in after Tristan Mullally and he has been instrumental in getting PGA status. He has been doing a lot of work with the Juniors, and he has the KPMG Kids Tour now, and it's great to see more juniors about the Sieve Russell. When Lisa and I started, it was just the two of us, but now there are lots of juniors around.

"Before Gordon and Tristan we had Liam McCool and then Michelle McGreevy before she went to Ballybunion, so there's a strong tradition.

"It's really great to see the club becoming a PGA National venue, and while the Solheim Cup is a bit of a long shot at this point, hopefully they can have big events in the future. 

"Dad still talks about the Challenge Tour event there back in 2001 and Irish golf fans are always great for supporting events.

"The resort has everything you could possibly want for a tournament right there on site — the course and the hotel and spa, so it's a one-stop shop."