Irish Professional Golfer, Pádraig Harrington, visits The Links at Union Vale
One of the Links most memorable events was its tenth anniversary celebration in 2010, however, it is doubtful that any occasion surpassed the historic visit of three-time major champion Pádraig Harrington on Monday, August 20th.
It is a dream of any major venue to be recognized by one of its own. Having Pádraig Harrington visit and offer a clinic, in addition to playing a round of golf at the course, was beyond the wildest expectations of The Links membership. The historic opportunity came about through a personal connection between Links’ member Joe Stapleton and Michael Clune, president of Chicago-based Clune Construction, who is a major sponsor of Mr. Harrington's Charitable Foundation.
Harrington arrived early at the golf course and was welcomed by a large enthusiastic attendance of Links members and friends, all eager to make his acquaintance. Following an extensive greetings and autograph signing session, he conducted a most informative and entertaining clinic of ball striking and putting. He was relaxed and at home with the appreciative audience and in his easy and affable manner, he blended personal experiences and comical observations with his clinical instructions. Among his demonstrations, he executed the Happy Gilmore swing to perfection and to the delight of all. Adding some additional drama to his visit, he later played a remarkable round of golf, displaying his wizardry by tying an official course record from the back tees of 64. He was joined in his round by representatives of the Clune Company and by Tony Dunleavy, President of The Links, Pat Costigan, Past President and Phil O'Meara, Founding President of The Links. (continued below)
The day concluded with a reception and dinner in the Links’ Clubhouse. Joe Stapleton of RIVCO Construction Company, who was instrumental in the arrangements, introduced Michael Clune and the guest of honor. Mr. Harrington, during a Q & A session provided detailed and insightful stories of his family, school and sporting activities. He told of playing both hurling and football in his school days, no doubt, influenced by his father who played Gaelic Football for Cork, competing in two All Ireland Finals. Mr. Harrington displayed a humorous side with each answer.
President Tony Dunleavy presented Pádraig Harrington and Michael Clune with Honorary Memberships to The Links. Also recognized that evening was course architect, Steven Kay and his senior associate, Doug Smith. Both gentlemen were in attendance at the dinner. Mr. Harrington thanked Mr. Clune for his sponsorship and all at the Links for the invitation and warm welcome, and gave great praise to the design and condition of the golf course.
In conclusion, Mr. Dunleavy thanked the General Manager, Teri Stellato, Golf Professional, Pat Sullivan, for their part in the day's program and also Joe Stapleton and Michael Clune who were primarily responsible for making this great event possible. He expressed sincere thanks to Pádraig Harrington for honoring the Links with his attendance on this occasion, despite so much demand on his time, and wished him continued success in his great career. He noted that this was a day that will have lasting memories for all the members and will enhance the already glowing reputation of The Links at Union Vale.