Lough Erne will fit Obama like a golf glove

Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 00:00

A keen golfer, Barack Obama – was once presented with a set of left-handed golf clubs by Ireland’s triple-Major champion Padraig Harrington. He is likely to feel very much at home when next year’s G8 summit is held at Lough Erne resort, which features a golf course designed by Nick Faldo and where world number one Rory McIlroy has a property.

Obama’s love of golf saw him extend an invite to US Ryder Cup players Phil Mickelson and US Masters champion Bubba Watson – both left-handed like himself – to the White House during last year’s US Open when the event was played at Congressional Country Club in Maryland, just outside Washington DC.

That Major championship was won by McIlroy, who subsequently received an invitation of his own from the president to visit the White House. As it happened, McIlroy was the touring professional at the time for Lough Erne.

The resort has since been placed in administration and is currently on the international property market with a price tag of £10 million. It was the vision of local businessman Jim Treacy and cost an estimated £35 million to develop.

The golf course, designed by Faldo with a finishing stretch along the lakes, has received widespread acclaim and is the centrepiece of the luxurious five-star hotel facility. It also has a Thai spa and offers some of the best fly-fishing around to anglers.

Host of champions

The resort recently played host to the Irish Golf Tour Operators Association conference and awards banquet.

Some of Northern Ireland’s legendary sportsmen – among them world champion boxer Barry McGuigan, champion jockey Richard Dunwoody, footballer Pat Jennings, rugby player David Humphreys and GAA player Peter Canavan – were on hand to showcase the diversity of the region’s sporting achievements.

Given the Major wins in recent years of McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, which have placed Northern Ireland as the golfing capital of the world, it is perhaps fitting that the world’s leaders should be headed for a summit at a resort developed around a golf course.

If German chancellor Angela Merkel does not have the same fondness for golf as Obama, she may be impressed by the environmentally sensitive code adopted by the resort, where golfers encounter signs such as “Ssshh . . . Bats sleeping” and “Watch The Otter” during their rounds.