PGA Show Notebook: Ireland's ancient east poised for growth

Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design takes on new design; Prototype bag could be game changer; Passage Golf takes mess out of golf food equation

Curracloe Links in Curracloe, Ireland, is to be designed by Dana Fry and Jason Straka, and will open in 2026.

ORLANDO, Florida — Golf course architect Jason Straka has been involved with some high profile designs over the years — including 2017 U.S. Open site Erin Hills in Wisconsin — but nothing quite compares to his latest project that begins in February.

Straka and design partner Dana Fry of Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design will be creating a new links course in the self-proclaimed "land of links" of Ireland adjacent to the white sands of Curracloe Beach, the filming location of the epic movie "Saving Private Ryan." The course will be named Curracloe Links.

Talk about pressure.

Jason Straka.

"I look at it as an honor, quite honestly," Straka says. "The pressure is frankly getting the job. It’s going to be an experience of a lifetime."

The course, developed by the Neville Group, will be located two hours south of Dublin in an area called Ancient East.

Golf in Ireland was helping promote its upcoming new offering from Straka, who has traveled and played extensively over the years in the island country, at the PGA Show this week.

"Stylistically, we want to do something maybe a little bit different in links golf, something that hasn’t been seen in Ireland," says Straka, comparing his proposed look somewhat to Bill Coore’s and Ben Crenshaw’s design at Friar’s Head in New York.

“There's some that are out there, where the land sort of talking to you on a hole design, looking down over the town of Wexford and out to the coast,” Straka says. “We need to make sure we add all the nuances to this design. So, you do know that postcard perfect backdrop of the 12th hole with the sheep in the background is on purpose, right? We're creating that painting to where it’s 18 holes of a journey."

The Trolf golf travel bag prototype.

The latest in golf bag traveling may be right around the corner.

Trolf founder and CEO Bill Phillips was displaying his new prototype golf travel bag at the PGA Show. He expects to have something to market within 6-12 months.

"Traveling with a set of golf clubs is awful, right? I mean, it kind of takes a beating," Phillips says. "So we took a set of ideas based on club spacing. We like roomy when we play, but we need things compressed close together when we travel."

Phillips’ all-in-one golf travel bag, which unfolds like an accordion when it reaches its golfing destination and fits nicely on the back of a golf cart, takes up about 60% less space than a traditional golf bag and golf travel bag combination, which most players use now.

"I've had six drivers broken over the years traveling and only five of them were by the airlines," Phillips jokes. "One of them was my fault when my bag fell off the cart."

Trolf, based in Arizona, uses a motto of "Golf Travel Converged." The travel bag will be made out of polycarbonate and allows enough space for woods with head covers. The price is expected to be $750.

"The way we arrived at that price is we figured golfers spend $300 for a decent bag, and another $300 for a good travel bag," Phillips says. "So with our product you’ll pay an extra $150 premium, and I figure a trip or two will pay for itself."

Once the Trolf travel bag is unfolded there is room for a ball dispenser and other features like a Bluetooth speaker. Another cool feature are the “sleeves” the clubs are secured in, which have a moveable plastic ring on each to adjust clubs for certain heights. So, if you want your most used clubs to sit higher in the bag for easier access while on the golf cart that can be easily accomplished.

The next step for Phillips is to get 20 prototypes into the hands of serious golf travelers for much-needed feedback.

"We want to learn our lessons in a low volume environment," Phillips says. "We're not going to kid ourselves. I think a stretch target for us would be if we ever got to 5 percent of the travel market that would be a monster thing. But it is kind of game changing. I mean, it's radical, right?"

There is nothing worse than a messy snack on the golf course. Your hands get sticky or salty, it’s then transferred to your golf glove, grips or ball, or cart steering wheel, and your game suffers while you’re struggling to find a cleaning agent. 

Blake Anderson believes he’s solved the on-course golf food issues with Passage Golf, an energy boosting premium snack blend. Anderson launched his Las Vegas-based company products in June 2023, narrowing down 20 different flavors of pretzel, peanut and cracker mix to five flavors. The products come in 1-ounce servings and cost $3 each. There is a rip tab at the top of the bag that allows the golfer to transfer the food directly into the mouth, and then reseal the bag without touching the snack mix.

"Our packaging is kind of what separates us," Anderson says. "Golfers are on the go so you can open it up and put it in your mouth without taking your glove off or getting any salt or extra like cheese dust or anything like that on your hands while you're playing."

The 31-year-old graphic designer says his personal experiences prompted him to dive headfirst into the golf business.

"I love golf and I’m not a big salty chips guy and I wasn’t seeing too many offerings at courses," he says. "We’ve actually had a couple of college golf coaches come over and they really like the product idea because their players can eat it on the go. I guess it's getting a little messy with the bananas, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and stuff. They can’t keep their hands clean and you don’t have to worry about that with our mixes."

Anderson’s company offers two spicy versions — a savory, a cheesy and a BBQ mix.