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Why Lyn said 'no thanks' to Arnold Palmer

It can't have been easy, resisting the overtures of Arnold Palmer, but that's exactly what Lynn McCool did before taking over as director of golf at the Lough Erne resort.

Strabane woman McCool stayed with the golfing legend at his Bay Hill resort late last year and was considering a move full-time to America.

“I was fortunate enough to meet Arnold Palmer in November and my husband Sean and I spent a week at his place at Bay Hill in Orlando,” she explained.

“He asked us to play his golf event and introduced me to a lot of influential people in golf.

“And a couple of clubs began talking about me moving out there, and it was Arnold who was making that happen.

“He did open a few doors for me but I was talking to Lough Erne at the time and hopeful that something would happen and thankfully it did around January.

“Yes America's nice, but Lough Erne was better than anything I could have found out there.

“My heart's always been in Ireland.”

Lynn took up the post in Fermanagh in March and has not regretted her decision for a moment.

“Lough Erne is a very special venue. I knew it the moment I arrived,” she said.

“You only have to look out the window to see it.

“I get great satisfaction when I see Lough Erne because I know I can sell it, just because of the beauty of the place.”

Lynn played as a full-time professional in 1994 and 1995 and part-time for most of the next decade.

Working with Michael Doherty in her first job at City of Derry convinced her that her career lay in golf management.

And she has subsequently gone on to work at Hilton Templepatrick and the K Club, before taking up her present role where she is also head professional.

“When I was at the Hilton, that was the most exciting place to be and then I was there at the K Club from before the Ryder Cup which was a fantastic experience and a fantastic place,” she recalls.

“But I feel I am moving up in my career with every move.

“The set-up here at Lough Erne is incredible with the hotel, the staff, the service, the chef Noel McMeal. It's so exciting when you put everything here together with the golf course which has 18 amazing holes, and not a weak one among them.”

Lynn will have her work cut out for her in the build-up to this year's Lough Erne Challenge when Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke will represent Northern Ireland against Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry for the Republic of Ireland on July 21.

“It's going to be very interesting to see how the four of them tackle the closing three holes, because they can be played in so many different ways,” she said.

“They are as tough as any three finishing holes on any course that I can think of.

“And the 10th is one of the most specular holes anywhere; that's the one everyone talks about in the bar after their round.

“The course is only 10 months old, but you wouldn't know it from being out there playing it.

“We'll have raters coming out at some point and there's no doubt in my mind that this course will be rated highly when the time comes.”

McCool talks with such enthusiasm for new surroundings, there's no doubt she made the right decision despite Mr Palmer's efforts.

“He invited us to play in his golf event and while I was out on the course I was told that he was coming out to watch me play,” she recalls.

“And so he arrived on his buggy and I just couldn't stop shaking.

“I don't normally get star struck but this was Arnold Palmer and they don't call him the King for nothing,” Lynn added.

Arnold Palmer's loss is Ulster golf's gain.

Belfast Telegraph