By Ray O’Hanlon
The only thing you might someday find in the bunkers along this stretch of the border in Ireland is sand.
And the only thing you might want to decommission is your scorecard.
That’s assuming, of course, that the plan gets off the first tee.
Recent reports in several Irish papers have highlighted a plan to construct a championship golf course straddling the border between counties Tyrone and Monaghan.
The course, on the grounds of an old estate called Favor Royal, is the dream of New York-based construction tycoon Pat Donaghy.
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Reports in the Irish Independent and Sunday Business Post have indicated that the only things yet missing from the cross-border plan are flagsticks and the course design skills of golfer Nick Price, former British Open champion and twice winner of the U.S. PGA title.
New York public relations man John Scanlon, speaking for Donaghy, described the reports in the Irish papers as "premature." At the same time, Scanlon acknowledged that plans for the estate did have something to do with small white balls and the people who like to swipe at them.
"It is a vision that Pat has and devoutly wishes will occur," Scanlon said. "It is something he wants to do and the concept is to have a cross-border golf course."
Should the project go ahead, it will certainly bring a new dimension to the idea of long driving. It is anticipated that the fifth hole, for example, will have the player firing from the tee in Northern Ireland to a green in the Republic. The sixth and seventh holes would also have a cross-border carry.
Favor Royal is an 85-acre estate between Augher and Aughnacloy in County Tyrone. According to the Sunday Business Post report, the eventual course would incorporate this land along with 120 acres purchased from the Northern Ireland forestry authorities and 20 acres from Coillte, the forestry authority in the Republic.
Also listed in the group of investors behind the project is former GAA president Peter Quinn.
Favor Royal Demesne includes a house built in 1825 that replaced an older structure dating from 1670. The proposed development of the estate includes plans for a luxury hotel, conference center and leisure complex.
The "premature" aspect of the reports to date likely center on the fact that the Donaghy-led group of investors are still awaiting planning permission from local authorities on both sides of the fairway frontier.
The £15 project is being managed by New York-based Michael Miglino, who is linked to New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Miglino told the Sunday Business Post that he hoped for planning permission to come through this summer, that construction would begin shortly after that, and that the course and complex would be up and running within three years.
Donaghy, a native of Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone, immigrated to the U.S. in 1959 with little money in his pocket. He now heads the Structure Tone construction conglomerate, which operates on both sides of the Atlantic and last year had a reported turnover in the region of $2 billion.