Editor’s diary: October

Thank you, Arnold

Arnold Palmer’s was certainly a life well lived. Having reached the ripe old age of 87 we cannot describe his death as a tragedy. However, the sense of loss and sadness throughout the golfing world is both real and profound.

Note the ‘is’ and not ‘was’. In the fast-moving media world we occupy, the agenda moves on so quickly that it can often be a case of blink and you’ve missed it when news breaks. But Palmer’s passing feels different; something to absorb, reflect on and consider.

And that’s why we devoted our National Club Golfer cover and 20 pages of October’s issue to a celebration of his extraordinary career. I expected to be using this column to discuss the Ryder Cup but even an event of that magnitude feels like a sideshow compared to the life story of the man from Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Born in 1929, the year of the Great Depression, the King’s life and times spanned the beginning of the Masters, an event he would win four times, the beginning of the PGA Tour and, perhaps most importantly to us, the fall and rise of the Open.

Arnold Palmer

In fact, Palmer was personally responsible for the Open Championship’s revival, and its modern-day stature as the title that, along with the Masters, golfers around the world grow up dreaming most of winning. Starting in 1960 at St Andrews, and fittingly ending in the same place some 35 years later, the American lit up the game’s oldest Major and his charismatic, muscular, aggressive style of play brought pleasure to millions of fans over the years.

The game will be immeasurably poorer without him, but is so very much richer for what he has given us over the past 87 years. Thanks for everything, Arnold.

Editor’s diary: Davis Love’s Ryder Cup heroes

I take my hat off to Davis Love’s American Ryder Cup team. They were phenomenally good, from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon.

I’m not sure they were quite as impressive as for the first two days at Medinah, or on the final day at Brookline, but as a concerted effort it was the best I have seen from the USA in my 30 years of following the Ryder Cup. As for Europe, a team in transition, I’m sure they’ll come again. Starting in two years’ time at Paris National.

Old Head's new 13th

Editor’s diary: South-west Ireland is booming again

I spent a few days in Ireland earlier this month. The logistics of such trips are always a challenge because the courses you most want to get to are rarely close to one another. That’s an understatement actually.

On this particular visit I was trying to take up a long-standing offer to go back to Old Head, which continues to evolve and improve with each passing year, and also call in at Trump Ireland (the artist formerly known as Doonbeg) to see Martin Hawtree’s architectural changes.

That involves a trip to the southernmost tip of Cork for the former and then the west coast of Clare for the latter. Naturally, while I was in Clare, I felt contractually obliged to arrange a game at Lahinch.

We were able to fly out of Stansted into Cork, and return from Shannon, which at least saved us a long drive, even if it came at the expense of a hire car surcharge. But enough of the logistics.

The headline news from the trip was that all three of these courses were incredibly busy, and this in the second week of October. My understanding of the American market was that they stopped coming over for the season in early September. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

They were having a great time, too. They love being in Ireland and the Irish are great hosts. As a result, they spend plenty of money – they really are ideal guests.

This was like going back in time to the early 2000s when it seemed there was a new high-end resort opening in Ireland every month. What Ireland’s golfing offer got wrong at that time, apart from being caught in the maelstrom of a global economic crash, was failing to realise what their American guests valued most.

The answer is that they come here to play seaside golf. The inland variety is of interest only if it has historical appeal and five-star accommodation, especially given that it is rarely easy to find the latter next door to great links courses.

Trump Ireland's new par-3 14th

That’s why Trump Ireland is well placed. The luxurious off-course facilities are just what American golfers are looking for and it provides a base for them to strike out to Lahinch and even Kerry. Perhaps it isn’t all that surprising to see the whole resort buzzing on a grey Thursday in mid-October after all.