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Good Times at the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

July 19, 2017
Northern Ireland

We can all agree, there’s nothing quite like being “in the zone” on the golf course, especially for golfers who don’t play regularly. Hitting it flush, even if it’s just for a couple of holes, smashing a drive to split the fairway or sinking back-to-back long putts is just a blissful feeling.

Ann Mabry, Premier Golf’s managing director, a mid-handicapper, recently got “in the zone” at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am at Portstewart Golf Club in Northern Ireland.

“As most golfers know, it’s always a bit nerve wracking to play in front of some sort of gallery,” Mabry says. “So it was fun to hit some really good shots at opportune times.”

Mabry says she was nervous on the first tee but managed to stripe it down the middle of the fairway and her team used her drive in the scramble format. On the sixth hole, a treacherous par 3, she ripped it 2 feet to the pin to win the “closest to the pin” award. Her team, comprised of touring pro Paul Dunne and golf tour operators Peter Grinsted of Green 2 Green in Denmark and Claire Jones of Golf Escapes in Kent, U.K., finished the tournament tied for third in points.

“The weather was fantastic and Paul made all of us very comfortable so all of the elements were there for us to have some success,” Mabry says.

Dunne is a 25-year old up-and-coming Irish professional, who many people remember from the 2015 Open Championship at the Old Course in St. Andrews, where, playing as an amateur, he was tied for the lead after three rounds.

Celebrities competing in the pro-am event included Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, actor Aidan Quinn (movies such as Desperately Seeking Susan and Legends of the Fall and the CBS Television series Elementary) and Kevin Baird and Sam Halliday of the band Two Door Cinema Club, who later performed a concert at the tented village.

Set on Northern Ireland’s picturesque Causeway Coast, Portstewart has three 18-hole courses, with the Des Giffin-designed Strand Course considered the best of the trio. Founded in 1894, Portstewart is a superb links golf experience with towering dunes and natural links land.

Mabry says, “The entire week was unbelievable and packed with fantastic experiences that highlighted all of the golf and other offerings in Northern Ireland.”

Mabry was part of a group of golf tour operators hosted by Tourism Northern Ireland.

The pro-am tournament is just one of numerous events Mabry attended from Monday July 3 to Friday July 7.

Hosted by the Rory Foundation, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, a European Tour event at Portstewart, was won by 22-year old Spanish phenom Jon Rahm.

Mabry’s group stayed at the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast and received a thorough review of the dynamic city. The Fitzwilliam Hotel is a five-star, boutique hotel near the city center and shopping district. In addition, the group toured the fabulous Culloden Hotel & Spa Resort, a luxurious, five-star property that sits high on the slopes of the Hollywood Hills overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim.

One of the highlights of the week was “An Evening with Rory McIlroy” at the Belfast Waterfront Hall, a multi-purpose conference and entertainment center in Belfast. The gala charity event, hosted by the world’s number two-ranked golfer, benefitted the Rory Foundation, which helps numerous children’s charities.

Other special events Mabry attended included a welcome dinner at James Street South Bar & Grill in Belfast, where chargrilled and aged steaks are the draw; golf at the Royal Belfast Golf Club, the oldest golf course in Ireland; dinner at Tedfords Restaurant in Belfast, an elegant restaurant in an 1840’s building with superb fresh fish selections on the menu; and dinner at Harry’s Shack in Portstewart, a smart casual restaurant with lots of fresh local fish, meats and vegetables.

Northern Ireland is full of friendly, accommodating people and the golf course line-up is spectacular,” Mabry says. “Some of the best and most notable places to play are Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, Ardglass, Portstewart, Castlerock, Enniscrone, Rosapenna and Carne. I’m looking forward to taking more clients to this beautiful part of Ireland because it has so many wonderful things to offer on and off the golf courses.”