IGTOA celebrates 21st year with superb National Conference

Bernie McGuire

It was another superb staging of the  Ireland Golf Tour Operator Association (IGTOA) National Conference at the Galgorm Resort & Spa in Ballymena in recent days with golf tourism once again being the big winner.

The conference , which was celebrating its 21st anniversary, was split into a networking event for the trade on day one followed by dinner and then the small matter of the IGTOA Golf Classic at Royal Portrush, stage for the 148th Open in 2019. After that it was onto the awards ceremonies for both the golf prizes and the National Awards handed out each year by the association.

Irish Golfer Magazine were there, of course, as the official media partner and it was fantastic to connect with so many golf clubs, hotels and golf travel trade over the couple of days, not to mention get to play at Portrush and get a first-hand look at the changes that have been made – WOW!


The awards are of course the highlight of the event and there were 200 golf industry representatives all hoping that they would be selected with the big winners on the night being Adare Manor who scooped the Resort of the Year award, which was hardly a surprise to anyone who has been there and sampled it!

Following the win, Adare Manor CEO, Colm Hannon, commented: “The IGTOA Irish Golf Awards are a highlight of the Irish golf tourism calendar, and we are thrilled to be recognised as ‘The Golf Resort of the Year’ by experts in the industry. Achieving this award is a testament to the entire team here who are fully committed to providing a first-class service to all of our guests. Our goal is to offer a complete golf experience for every guest, that will leave them with long lasting memories and a desire to return again.”

Other winners included Brian Hurley (Portmarnock Golf Club), who won Golf Manager of the Year, Ballyliffin won the Links Course of the year with Dromoland Castle taking the parkland honours.

The Jerry Donworth Award for a lifetime of service to the golf industry went to Wilma Erskine who has been the Secretary Manager at Royal Portrush for 34 years and who gave a wonderful speech on how it all started for her there and how the landscape has changed in golf, both figuratively and literally in Portrush during her tenure. Wilma also announced she will be stepping down once the Open Championship has taken place so there will be some big boots to fill at Portrush in 2019.

 Wilma Erskine receiving her award / Image from JDM Photography
All in all it was another wonderful event and IGM were delighted to form part of the proceedings as we organised the golf day and put the golfers through a punishing ‘white tees’ challenge in a 3-4 club wind! No point in making it too easy guys!

See you all in Ballybunion in 2019!


2018 Jerry Donworth Outstanding Contribution to Golf
Wilma Erskine, Secretary Manager at Royal Portrush Golf Club

2018 Golf Manager of the Year
Brian Hurley (Portmarnock Golf Club)

2018 Golf Resort of the Year
Adare Manor

2018 Links Golf Course of the Year
Ballyliffin (Glashedy Course)

2018 Parkland Golf Course of the Year
Dromoland Golf Club

2018 Best Customer Experience – Golf Course
Carne Golf Links

2018 Best Customer Experience – Property
Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links

2018 Best Customer Experience – Service Provider
Executive Helicopters

2018 Large Golf Hotel of the Year
Great Southern Hotel (County Kerry)

2018 Boutique Golf Hotel of the Year
Craignamara B&B (Portrush)

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