27 Jun 2022

American students savour experience at Shane Lowry's home golf club in Offaly

American students savour experience at Shane Lowry's home golf club in Offaly

Visitors from the College of Wooster with Esker Hills Golf Club members

A group of third level students from the USA were given a traditional Irish welcome when they visited Esker Hills Golf Club on Monday afternoon.

A few dozen of members turned out to greet the visitors from the College of Wooster in Ohio, about an hour from Cleeveland.

The travelling group of eight males and six females and their coaches are part of the golf programme at College of Wooster, where they are under graduate students. It was their first ever trip to Ireland and they included Esker Hills on their golfing itinerary along with Barna in Galway, Enniscrone in Sligo and Royal Dublin and the Island in Dublin.

The visitors greatly enjoyed the golf at Esker Hills, giving a firm thumbs up to the course while the hospitality by the hosts and members really enhanced the day as they partied with them for a couple of hours, engaging in a traditional Irish sing song.

Rich Danch, the mens' golf coach in College of Wooster, explained that the College of Wooster are in NCWA Division 3 sports in the USA, which means that they don't award athletics scholarships and their teams are strictly amateur as a result. “We are the last true amateurs,” smiled Danch.

They have some very good golfers on their teams, ranging from scratch to a handicap of five. None of them would be of Walker Cup standard but a couple have competed in USGA championships. As a result, their students are very unlikely to pursue professional careers in sport and will embark on other careers.

College of Wooster is quite small with 2,000 students, all staying on campus, and the town of Wooster has a population of almost 27,000 people.

It is the first time that a group of students from the college have travelled abroad and Danch revealed that they choose Ireland as the destination after hearing glowing reports from another college about the beauty of the country and the hospitality.

“It has been really great,” he said. “The golf has been great and we have received a great welcome every where we went.”

They have toured tousist spots such as the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle on the west coast while the golf has been an important part of their trip.

Funnily enough, they weren't aware that Esker Hills was Shane Lowry's home course when they initially booked it. Danch said they were only told this by the travel agent as they booked it and that was the icing on the cake as Americans really admire Lowry and the raw emotion he plays golf with. Price and value for money was one of their big criteria with Danch saying they didn't want to pay big money for courses such as Ballybunion and Lahinch. He stated that they loved the Esker Hills course and the unique challenge it provided.

Lisa Campanell-Komara, the female golf coach, said: “The people of Ireland have been so welcoming to us”.

A desire to play links golf meant that it boiled down to Ireland and Scotland when they were choosing their destination. Campanell-Komara said they wanted the full Irish golfing experience of wind, rain and hills and the students really enjoyed Esker Hills. “It has more hills than we would be used to but we wanted to be challenged”, she said, adding that two of the girls shot rounds of 78. “Some of them said they would like to play it again now that they have a feel for the course,” she added.

Campanell-Komara revealed that College of Wooster is ranked second nationally for student research and the focus is on getting the right balance between academics and athletics. “Academics is very important,” she commented.

Over 20 sports are catered for in College of Wooster including football, baseball, tennis, swimming, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey etc.. The group arrived in Ireland on May 18.

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