For the third year running, Carne Links is set to host the Irish PGA Championship when the showpiece event on the Irish PGA circuit returns to the famed Wild Atlantic Dunes Course from August 9-12.
Ranked number 12 on the most recent Irish Golfer top 100 rankings, combining nine of Eddie Hackett’s original design with nine recent additions by Ally McIntosh, the course is a rugged masterpiece overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and played through towering dunes and raw, natural terrain, is a venue that marries beauty with beast in the most fantastic way possible.
Preceded by a Pro-Am on August 9, the 54-hole tournament gets underway on the 10th with defending champion Damien McGrane looking to capture a fourth Irish PGA Championship having previously won in 2016 and 2019. The former European Tour winner rolled back the years in last year’s event to birdie three of the final five holes and seal a two-stroke victory over North West Golf Club’s Brian McElhinney with whom the Carlow pro was paired with in the final round.
“All I was trying to do was shoot the best score every day,” McGrane told Irish Golfer in the wake of his third success at last year’s staging, “the money never entered my mind, the trophy never entered my mind. I was trying to play my own golf for my own self-respect, and we all agreed that if you can shoot the right number, the win would possibly come along with it.”
The win was a special one for McGrane who had his daughter Gemma on the bag for the final round and his son Ethon was among the 83 professionals who teed it up in opposition. “That was my motivation to turn up and try to play my best in the final round,” he said, “I knew she was driving over from Meath to caddy for me and I knew I had to finish the job off as best as possible and I knew it would be a special memory to finish it off with my son in the field and my daughter caddying for me.”
The event is once again sponsored by Columbia Sportswear, with CEO Tim Boyle and family owning Gearhart Golf Links in the United States’ Pacific Northwest which is twinned with the iconic course in Ireland’s western reaches, and Carne owners Erris Tourism Holdings Ltd. are putting up the €50,000 prize fund.
“We are delighted to be staging the 113th Irish PGA Championship at the dramatic Wild Atlantic Dunes at Carne Links in County Mayo,” said Conor Dillon, PGA in Ireland Regional Manager. “This is the most historic event in The PGA in Ireland calendar, and it is a pleasure to work once again alongside Chairman Gerry Maguire, General Manager Fiona Togher, and the entire team at Carne, who are first class ambassadors of golf in Ireland. I would also like to recognise Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle for his continued support of this event.”
McGrane will be joined by a top-class field that includes last year’s runner-up Brian McElhinney former winners Simon Thornton, Tim Rice, David Higgins and Michael McGeady, and Lough Erne’s Damian Mooney, fresh off making the cut at the Senior Open Championship, as they battle it out for the lion’s share of the takings.
“On behalf of the Board of Turasoireacht Iorrais Teo (Carne Golf Links) we are honoured to welcome back the Irish PGA Championship in 2023, for the third year in a row, to our magnificent Wild Atlantic Dunes course at Carne,” said Fiona Togher, General Manager of Carne Golf Links.
“I would like to welcome all the visiting Professionals, alongside their families and friends, to Carne, for a spectacular test of golf amongst a mountainous dunescape, and I wish them all the best of luck in the tournament.
“It is an honour for Carne and the Erris Gaeltacht region to host this prestigious tournament, and we look forward to building on the successes of the 2021 and 2022 Championships and ensuring that the 2023 Tournament will be ever more successful and enjoyable. Spectators are welcome free of charge at the event, which will be of huge economic benefit to the town of Belmullet with increased bednights for local hotels, and spin-off benefits for the local hospitality and retail sectors. It is only possible by the support of our sponsors, Columbia Sportswear, and we are delighted to continue our successful twinning with Gearhart Golf Links, and partnership with Columbia.
“We look forward to working with the Irish PGA and continuing our successful partnership to ensure a thrilling Championship for all.”
Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, added; “We are honoured to sponsor the prestigious Irish PGA Championship at Carne Golf Links, one of the world’s best courses.”