Ahead of the Stone Irish Challenge getting under way at Headfort Golf Club, head professional Brendan McGovern gives his thoughts on how to tackle the renowned parkland layout.
McGovern, who has been a regular on the Staysure Tour since 2016, applies his trade on the over-50s circuit but it is Headfort Golf Club, where he is the head professional, which he knows best. He breaks down Headfort New, which is the host venue for the Stone Irish Challenge.
“It’s not the longest course in the world,” he said. “But the guy who is brave with the driver, because the rough is quite juicy, will get the best advantage. The par fives – two are reachable for the longer guys – and the other two you’d expect to be on the fringe for the majority of players.
“There are a few other holes on the golf course which are straighter and you could take them on with the driver, but there are a lot of positional shots on the course, where you won’t always be able to take driver off the tee.”
With the strength and power shown by many Challenge Tour stars, the driver will be the most popular option from the tee. However, the Irishman believes strong iron play will come out on top at Headfort New.
“A guy with good iron play will do well here,” he said. “A strength of the course is that it will force you to hit every club in the bag, whether it’s a long iron, hybrid or three-wood off the tee. It’s not going to be a huge advantage for the best driver of the golf ball. I don’t think length will be a huge advantage compared to accuracy as it is a second shot golf course.”
Every golf course features key holes, which players can profit on or slip up on. Those holes could decide who will lift the trophy on Sunday afternoon and McGovern is confident that gaining strokes on the par fives will separate the men from the boys.
“The guy who plays the par fives well throughout the week is the guy who I think will win on Sunday,” he said. “Those holes are really strong birdie chances so the guy who can play the par fives three or four under par every day is the guy who I think will win the tournament.
“Holes two and six will have a good baring on how brave they want to be. There is risk and reward off the tee on both holes. If you’re brave with your tee shot, then I think you’ll do well there.
“The par three seventh hole is my favourite par three. Good shots will be rewarded there, and a miss hit off the tee could result in a penalty of two or more shots.”
The Stone Irish Challenge, the final full-field event on the European Challenge Tour runs from October 10-13 at Headfort Golf Club in Kells, County Meath.