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Lough Erne Challenge: 10,000 set for tee off

By Peter Hutcheon

Lough Erne Resort is planning to celebrate its first birthday in style this month.

The Nick Faldo-designed course at the Fermanagh resort has already seen over 10,000 visitors since the doors were opened exactly a year ago today.

And although the course is still maturing, it has already won several prestigious awards.

Golf World magazine voted the 18th — with its intimidating tee-shot over Lower Lough Erne — as the best par three anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

While Sports Illustrated named it the best new international course in the world.

Approaching Northern Ireland hero Rory McIlroy to be the club’s touring professional was a masterstroke, with his success in America and around the rest of the world helping to spread the word about the 7,167-yard lay-out.

He won the initial Lough Erne Challenge when he beat Padraig Harrington in an 18-hole strokeplay match in July of last year.

And in tandem with Darren Clarke, the pair will represent Northern Ireland in an intriguing battle against the Republic in the form of Harrington and reigning Irish Open champion Shane Lowry this year.

That match is being played at the course on Wednesday, July 21, the week following the Open Championship at St Andrews.

The connection with Faldo remains strong and the course will also host the Faldo Series grand final for the next three years.

A state-of-the-art practice facility — the Faldo Academy — is due to open in September which will be run by the resort’s director of golf Lynn McCool.

“There are a wide range of events being held to celebrate out first birthday,” said Jonathan Stapleton, the resort’s general manager.

“Starting from Saturday there will be activities scheduled to entertain all the family.

“On Sunday, young people from the age of six to 12 can test their skill as they participate in crazy golf for kids on the mini-Himalayas from 2pm-4pm, while adults can join forces with three friends to take part in the 18 hole scramble team challenge.

“For those who prefer to go it alone, they can compete in the longest drive competition for adults from 5pm-7pm.

“From Monday to Saturday every morning we will be running a daily golf clinic for kids from 10am to 12noon and a daily golf clinic for adults from 2pm to 3.30pm.”

For further information go to www.lougherneresort.com or call 02866 323230.

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