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Mooney out to lift golf in Fermanagh to all new heights after taking on Lough Erne professional role


Driving on: Damian Mooney, Lough Erne’s new PGA Professional (right), with Operations Manager Barry McCauley

Driving on: Damian Mooney, Lough Erne’s new PGA Professional (right), with Operations Manager Barry McCauley

Driving on: Damian Mooney, Lough Erne’s new PGA Professional (right), with Operations Manager Barry McCauley

Former European Tour player Damian Mooney has set his sights on boosting golf's profile in Fermanagh after becoming the new PGA Professional at Lough Erne Golf Resort.

With over 30 years of experience as a professional, in which he has won the Ulster PGA title three times and been the only man to captain Ireland to victory at the European Team Championships, Mooney will be an experienced figure at the head of Lough Erne's golf team alongside new golf operations manager Barry McCauley.

And the 52-year-old has already pinpointed where he wants to place his focus in his new role - taking the sport into the local community and driving interest in the game.

"I want to promote a welcomeness to the place to try and promote golf. Soccer is a reasonably big sport in this area, but I want to give people the option that golf is available and it's open to everybody," said Mooney.

"Whether they want to come to the driving range and hit a few balls for fun and get the mental health benefits or if they want to join the golf clubs, I'm here to help the profile."

He has a fine facility at which to do so, Lough Erne boasting an eight-bay driving range and a two-room swing studio with Trackman technology alongside the world-class Faldo Course, which is consistently ranked inside the top 100 courses in the UK & Ireland, and Castle Hume.

Mooney is already thinking big and has a dream of setting up an academy at Lough Erne, as well as installing an indoor putting green for use over winter, but his first goal is to make sure the interest is there.

"There's an opportunity for those people to use our facilities. We have the opportunity to be recognised for that. The facility is so good and the area is so accessible," he added.

"To me, the resort hasn't been used to its full potential yet. When I saw the opportunity, I thought that was one of the places that I would love to be based.

"When you look at the facilities they have, it's something that I can make use of and pass down the benefit to people who will come to me and visit the resort.

"When golf comes back, we have a vision that we will be open to any group, any individual. In an ideal world we'd be visiting schools and encouraging them to send groups out, or youth clubs.

"The attraction is here. I just want to hone in on developing it and increasing the popularity of the sport in the area - making this the place to come to experience that."

Meanwhile, at the first Major of the year, the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California, Stephanie Meadow is one-under after her opening round, five shots off leader Patty Tavatanakit.

Cavan's Leona Maguire had an excellent first round, carding a five-under 67 to lie one behind the leader.

At the Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour, Graeme McDowell opened with a two-over-par 74 at TPC San Antonio, with Camilo Villegas the best of day one after an eight-under 64.

And Olivia Mehaffey will head into the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur just one shot off the lead after a sensational three-under 69 in her second round got her to level-par, with Rose Zhang and Ingrid Lindblad leading at one-under.

The final round, featuring only the top-30, will be played at Augusta National tomorrow after the entire field play a practice round at Augusta today.

Belfast Telegraph

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