Month: December 2017

New works at Castletown Golf Links

I enjoyed the sublime conditions and played in the competition at Castletown yesterday. The new works on the first and eighteenth were captured on the iphone7+ camera. Please excuse the lighting conditions.

Pictured in the movie are Jack Gilbert and Joe O’Brian who make part of the green staff team at Langness. Accompanying them is Jackie Fisher, former Lady Captain of the club.

Exciting times ahead at the Links with such visionary additions.

Haven Homes Winter League Report and Movie

Matchday 7 – Haven Homes Winter League at Rowany

Christmas came early for the league leaders Tyson Trev and his Geordie hitman. It was dubbed ‘match of the day’ by a reputable sports forecaster but became a walk in the park for the men at the top.

Newton’s obscure approach to putting and ‘new to golf’ Glover’s inexperience on the links caused a 5+4 score. The match was built up showing promise but fizzled out like a Klopp Premiere League campaign. Being blessed with awkward thumbs, the Nottingham social media guru was bashing away reports of the win to his massive Facebook fanbase before he touched a pint!

Desmond O’Hare and Marc Morley managed to lose again this week. The skilful O’Hare must feel like he’s dragging a sack of spuds around the fairways in this uneven partnership. Jack Gilbert was assisted by another member of the Rowany Hall of Fame – Andy Cain. The classy swingster simply glides away his irons in a sublime fashion. A canny 2 on the 13th led the way in a 4+3 victory.

The ‘pipe and slippers’ pair of Dave Corrin and Allan Tasker were cruising to another comfortable victory. 3 up with 3 to play had the pair relaxed and extolling the joys of wearing cardigans and Perry Como on the turntable on Christmas Day.  Holty and the younger Corrin had other ideas and mounted an epic fightback on the closing holes. The masterchef Holt applied the care and precision that is normally spared for his gourmet cheese toasties and snatched a half on the last.

Rowany Golf Club’s new vice captain Mark Walton and Paul Thomas finally got their act together and claimed an easy 3 points against John Cairney and Steve Gandy. The ‘tantrum meter’ was set a meagre level 4 this week and it was game over on the 17th green.

It’s never a good sign to be bottom of the table at Christmas time and it’s looking very grim for Coz and Orry Teare. In a match against Kevin/Stacey. Holes were given away as the impish O’Loughlan weaved his Irish magic. This included 2 on the tricky 8th. Coz is staring into the abyss with Teare. It’s a story of runaway trolleys and if he continues to drop shots like he does brigade radios, the pair are going to be sizzled.

The final game included Bunty Howarth stepping in with Neil Gray this week. Up against the robotic duo of Power and Neale, it looked like an automatic 3 pointer for the android twins. Gray’s pre match preparation was honed on a cider infused Courthouse dancefloor only hours before tee off. Taking 9 shots in the bunker on the first had their opponents computing an easy win. Gray had other ideas and spurred by his mum’s passionate online support, the 26 handicapper scored par after par racking up an enjoyable win. Power and Neale are performing like a broken ZX81 and welcome a festive break.

Easyjet from Belfast announced today!

You wouldn’t believe the amount of enquiries from Northern Ireland that have been lost due to unhelpful flight times and cost over the last 6 years! At last, some of the most keenest and friendliest golfers on the planet can get to the Island easier.

It has been announced today that EasyJet will commence flying from Belfast in June 2018 and to recognise this most pleasing of news, Isle of Man Golf Holidays have created two packages to compliment the Friday/Monday break and the Monday/Friday break.

Book early and the flights can be most affordable with baggage charges.

There is no expensive Euro here and the golf break is simply memorable with 8 friendly courses.

Take a look at the packages – CLICK HERE

Haven Homes Winter League Report and Movie

Rowany Golf Club enjoyed a snow free zone as one of the few Island links to offer Saturday golf in Matchday 6 of the Haven Homes Winter League.

The big game was a top of the table clash packed with drama before any ball was hit. Shock news was delivered to the clubhouse that Geordie Paul was trapped under a giant sack of parcels at the Post Office. Miraculously, Big Trev had already arranged a former Island champion to take his place. Playing against title holders Addy and Wilf turned into a formality. The master tactician Trev outfoxed all and sundry by deploying Mike Rae. Known as ‘De Ice Man’ by colleagues at the Airport, Mike singularly froze out the old timers with a 4+3 win as Tyson Trev coasted alongside.

Holty was joined this week by the young Dale Corrin as Dickie was in the UK having facial hair remodelled. Taking on the pair from Gloomsville, a half point was shared in a match that featured a brace of twos and some streaky putting. The Thomas/Walton team are now signed off the happy pills until next week. Yet again, Holt was late into his bar duties in the clubhouse as the game went the full distance. Members are excited to hear that the current trend of pairing wines with fine food is arriving in the ‘restaurant’ soon. The a la carte specialist is drawing up a themed menu where gourmet egg and chips is complimented with a fine bottle of Blue Nun. Details to follow.

Tom Gandy was welcomed back from his exhausting modelling assignment in Portugal. Our very own club pro had a taxing time posturing golf fashion on camera in the sunshine. Being in the company of beautifully toned, gifted specimens all week came to an ugly end as he found himself on a cold first tee alongside David Stacy and Kevin O’loughlin. Whilst suffering from jet lag and other energetic pusuits, the Pro was assisted by Jack Gilbert to win 4+2 in a predictable game.

The Battle of the King Orrys didn’t happen as Bunty stepped in for one half of the Slag Brothers from Whacky Races. The whole game pivoted on ‘new to golf’ Glover capitalising on his generous handicap. Hole after hole was captured and the Newt idly watched. Coz’s contribution was a runaway trolley on the 11th plus an enriched recital of the Profanasaurus. It was game over on the 14th green and points awarded to Mr OZBETS and partner.

‘Ding dong merrily on high’ was the tune for John Cairney and Steve Gandy. A see saw game ensued as Django O’Hare and Mark Morley posted a very quick 4 up after 4. Morley’s mind wandered to the forthcoming United defeat at Old Trafford and the holes were clawed back. Cairney had the chance on 18 to win with a short putt but his Scottish influence activated and he missed. Half a point was gift wrapped for the opposition. Some compensation for Morley’s miserable Sunday afternoon in Manchester.

The seemingly robotic duo of Neale and Power suffered a cataclysmic hard drive error and will need re booting before any further golf. Completely outclassed against the ‘carpet slippers and pipes pairing’ of Allan Tasker and Dave Corrin who had more up and downs than a bride’s nightie. Tasker who has an interest in collecting unusual golf equipment was in great form. Armed with his two-sided chipper acquired from the Royal and Ancient Museum of Dubious Clubs, Tasker enjoyed an afternoon where everything went in. To make matters worse, he was using a Nitro Ace ball. It was a ‘delete all’ moment for Power and Neale on the 16th where the game was terminated.


2018 Bookings are UP!

Good news! The Isle of Man is proving to be popular again for the travelling golfer. Our bookings and enquiries are up over 20% on this time last year and we’re heading into Christmas with the 2018 calendar nicely populated.

The sharp increase is attributed to the price of the Euro and the Isle of Man Golf offering marketed in a more strategic fashion.

Many thanks to all our Island golf clubs for giving our visitors such a warm and friendly welcome.

With views like these and apres golf activities galore, it’s no wonder the Island is a number one choice for holiday golfers,

Haven Homes Winter League – Matchday 5

The OZBETS form book was turned upside down in Matchday 5 of the Haven Homes Winter league at Rowany Golf Club on Saturday. Game of the day showcased Pete Holt and Dickie Corrin taking on Marc Morley and Darryl O’Hare. It started well for Darryl and his new Taylor Made M2 set of woods freshly unwrapped in the bag. Driving the first green and a ‘shoe in’ birdie set the lads up for a fiery start. Darryl is a talented, low handicap ‘prodigy’ player with style and this ability pleasantly contrasts that of his partner. Good interplay had the pair ahead early doors until ‘Amen Corner’ when Corrin and Holt embarked on a festival of putting. A series of long, snaking slots bit their opponents where it hurt. The burly pair took control and the game was over on the 16th green. Holty was overjoyed to return to the clubhouse earlier than usual and was quickly busy in the kitchen helping Maria prepare delicious gourmet Chateaubriand steaks for the inbound golfers.

                                                                                                      ‘Well done on a rare win’

Allan Tasker and Dave Corrin eased another 3 points and move up the table following a comfortable win against Brian Hewett and Neil Gray. The 4+3 score was met with little resistance and gave the victors time to discuss the merits of wearing matching cardigans, slippers and pipe smoking whilst on the course.

                                                                                                                     Relaxed winners

Dark clouds followed Mark Walton and Paul Thomas for yet another week. There is very little harmony in this pairing. Wardrobe malfunctions galore, club tossing and Thomas’ trolley running out of energy to name a few bad happenings. Power and Neale received a gift wrapped 3 points. Walton hit one bum note after another and nobody was sure if Thomas was even present in the game. Neale’s crucial big putt for half on 9 sealed the deal. Ecstatic Power was the sole player sat with a 2 on the card in a roll over week. With £40 almost in the hand, the smug grin was shattered as news filtered from the course that Coz had scored an unlikely eagle 2 on 17. The ungainly duo of Orry Teare and Coz had surrendered another 3 points to Wilf Lowey and Peter Addison in a match of one sided skill as the result finished 5+4. Coz recovered from defeat quickly as his immense stroke of luck on 17 cut Power’s winnings by half. How pleasing.

So happy sharing the winnings with Coz

John Cairney and Steve Gandy got themselves back in the groove with a 3 pointer against Kevin/Stacey who are now locked in the relegation zone for Christmas time. The game was terminated with 4 holes to play and it seems that O’Loughlin’s practice regime being trimmed to a measly 15 hours per week is taxing his form.

Christmas came early for this pair

Having two Island Champions battle it out is a testimony to the Rowany heritage and a match between Mike Rae and Tom Gandy provided to be an exhibition of pure ball striking. The supporting roles from Orry Glover and Jack Gilbert provided little interest and the star of the day was Tom. A collection of birdies including a brave drive into the 14th green was too much for Rae and Glover and it was game over on 17. Pro golfer and England player Tom disclosed that he’s in Portugal this week on a male modelling assignment for golf wear. Excellent work if you can get it Tom!

Gandy flies the Rowany Flag

Look out this weeks for OZBETS big game forecast! Super Saturday approaches with the top teams all teeing it up against each other! PLUS news of an exciting sponsorship for January’s league games

Isle of Man Tourism Workshop – Dec 01 2017

An Eventbrite invitation landed the other day to attend an event at the Tynwald building in Douglas. I like these invites that tie in with your  phone calendar designing your day. It’s so difficult to forget stuff now.

The remit wasn’t wholly clear as the invite classed it as a ‘workshop’. It was interesting and fun to see a collection of tourism partners and representatives from the newly formed Department of Enterprise. Having time to connect with the officials is valued as it gives time to share a few ideas and updates. Generally, there is little opportunity to link up during the year and share the good work that has been going on. Meeting Richard Slee for the first time helped – he’s one of these Island characters who has a profile that pops up intermittently in the right places.

Chatting with other tourism partners before the main event is always valued. It reminds you of what we have on the Island and who is doing something new and you rarely hear any doom and gloom. Maybe that is indicative of the type of folk the industry attracts.  You may only see these people one or two times per year and a business opportunity can open up very quickly with a timely natter over a coffee.

Rob Callister MHK welcomed the group with an energy filled address and set out some of the details relating to recent changes in governance. Rob is always good to hear and from my previous life in local politics, I know that his sentiments are laid on righteous foundations. The seminar was opened by Mark Lewin who is the Chief Executive for the Department. I understand he has a background relating to hotel business and it does give a head start. (The warm and relaxed attitude when speaking helped the audience to ease into the afternoon.) The message appeared to be that the Manx tourism mantra needs a rewrite and the tourism operators/partners and service providers have to be part of it. Mr Lewin and his colleague Carl presented a positive view of tourism that our inbound numbers are rising. Factors such as the currency value of the pound, security issues and better marketing has all contributed to the rise. A key target area for visitors is the retired market in the North West of England. That kind of ‘grey market’ is a little worrying when thinking about opportunities in 5 or 10 years time. I’d want to be gearing our visitor economy for younger people now – make the place exciting.

The group sat through an obligatory Powerpoint display and some graphics pointed to the new department structure and other bits and bobs. (I found myself drawn to some of the swish icon graphics on a pie chart.)  The group was then split into 3 and sat around separate tables to map out ideas for the future. At this point you wonder about who is actually at the seminar and my group had a hotel group director, travel group owner, Wildlife Park manager and some self catering accommodation providers. It was totally random selection but I felt that the cohort had a good mix. Sitting with Brian Kelly and Brett Martin is always interesting for pointers about the business climate around the tourism sector. (Ironically, Thomas Cook featured on the radio news minutes before I arrived – slashing 50 UK stores and sending the message that online booking is the direction of travel.)

Expanding the season into the winter months was a topic and an obvious challenge with our weather. Creation of new events are a good option here and my personal experience of handling 100’s of visitors this year for non golf tours tells me that food and drink/agr tours are promising. Spice them up with some spontaneity, quirky pit stops and fun places to see and it wins. Trudging around a tired and grey heritage exhibit doesn’t do it for me.

We had the opportunity to chip in a few ideas and here are some suggestions I threw in. (It was one of those sessions where there was 10 minutes per theme and our department host posted the ideas on flip boards)

  • I like the thought of a bit of rebranding for the Department and with the restructure, now is a good time. Perhaps a charismatic credible individual who is has the ability to communicate well could be the face of  Island tourism? Or maybe a collective? Somebody like John McGuinness has a massive respected following. He is a family guy and knows the Island inside out. Perhaps he would be willing to promote the Island even more than he does now on a more formal footing. The same could be said of Johnny Rea, Mark Cavendish, Samantha Barks and so on. Perhaps a TV celebrity who has a fondness for the Island? There would be costs involved but don’t we spend money on marketing anyway? A magnetic, captivating and interesting shop front for the rock is vital. Something that links in with the motorsport, dramatic scenery and dare I mention it, VIKINGS is a good step. (We have the most exciting Viking heritage and the appeal is vibrant. There are ship burials, battlegrounds, village sites and yet the Viking identity is virtually anonymous here. A spot of ‘Disneyfication’ would win.)
  • Isle of Man Tourism would benefit from a media channel. Short videos with lively and amusing content. This would be self perpetuating and squeezed into a Youtube channel. It would be a simple as Jo Pack’s Sports Package where spontaneous interviews and footage from tourism providers injects fresh content into the Island offering. The is low cost and just requires time, energy and drive.
  • The ‘build it and they will come’ stance sits well with me. The gravity sports element works well in North Wales attracting visitors and a similar operation here could be fabulous. We have the railway going up Snaefell, why not have MTB track options into the different valleys or even a luge experience?
  • Naturally, my thoughts on the department’s choice a few years ago not to promote golf was a huge error in my opinion. It was useful to add to the mix that we have 8 golf courses to utilise and bring the best spending tourists the Island could ever attract in great volume. Thus creating/saving jobs and injecting vast amounts of cash into the food, drink and hotel sector. With over 2000 golfers brought to the Island since 2011, I know that over £1m revenue has been brought to the Island and spent in places that need it. I can’t understand the focus on tourism groups who bring their own apples and stare at a glass of tonic water all night.
  • On that note, there was no obvious representation from the cycling sector. The Island is going cycle crazy and this is on roads that are generally unsafe for pedal pushers. A serious cycle strategy to turn every country footpath into a cycleway, remove all stiles and unfriendly gates and give the visitor an option to avoid the tarmac at most times. It appears simple, yet not on the Government radar. The potential to have a cycle path around the coastline is possible to achieve. The challenge to do it would be irresistible to many tourists. Add a cycleway alongside the railway lines wherever possible and you have a 3/4 day holiday to relish.

All in all, the vibe was good and hopefully, it will be maintained. There was no sign of the key transport providers  and as elephants sit in any room, it’s a big one. The cost of travel and logistic issues are the major component part of the visitor economy. You just hope that this is being addressed behind the scenes.

Looking forward to the outcomes of the afternoon. There were copious amounts of energy and ideas on tap which is always refreshing.

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