Classic Carlow ready for its annual Festival of Golf

Damien McGrane

Brian Keogh

Carlow Golf Club hasn’t hosted the Irish PGA since Christy O’Connor won the ninth of his ten titles in 1975.

But while there is no news yet of a long overdue return to one of the country’s classic tests, the best PGA professionals in the country will soon test their games again at the Cecil Barcroft course that was brilliantly re-designed by the great Tom Simpson in 1937.

The Sheehy Motors Carlow Pro-Am takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend on June 5, adding a final flourish to the club’s ‘festival of golf’.

This will be the third year of the Sheehy Motors sponsorship, and another quality winner is expected following wins for David Higgins in 2021 and Richard Kilpatrick in 2022.

With Carlow club professional and current Irish PGA Champion Damien McGrane hosting his fellow professionals, the event is expected to attract a top field once again.

This year’s pro-am is being run in aid of the Carlow Hospice, while the festival of golf offers the chance to play in five open events for €30 each for visitors from 1-4 June.

Details of all the events are available on the club’s website (, while bookings for the PGA Pro-am can be made through the club’s office (059 9132695).

Places are limited, and prospective teams are advised to enter early to secure a place at €450 for visiting teams, including a sit-down meal after play.

McGrane has no plans right now to compete in the Pro-Am, as his main concern is the smooth running of the event.

But he’s a huge admirer of the course, which has improved greatly in recent years.

“Carlow would be a fantastic venue for an Irish PGA,” he said last week. “The golf course is old school, and it can never host an Irish Open. But it would be an excellent test for the Irish PGA-level professional.

“Over the last five years, they’ve removed a lot of trees, and the course has the traditional long rough back.

“The trees prevented the long rough from growing, but it’s back now.

“As a result of the tree removal, the course is more airy, and it’s back playing firm. But it is what it is. It is an old-style, traditional championship course.

“Technology seems to be biting at it every year, but we have some new, expanded tee boxes at the second, third, sixth, 14th and 15th, which are a big help with wear and tear.

“The golf club is incredibly busy, but the green-keeping staff just put the best foot forward and keep it playable at a good level all year round.”