Meet the men who are more than just bag-carriers

Andrew Marshall
Thu, 10 Feb 2011

Indeed the Doonbeg bagmen are worth their weight in Pro V1s - thanksto their almost uncanny ability to locating stray golf balls - even in the thick Marram grass which is a feature of the course.

“The marram just closes up around the ball, but we can walk right up to it,” says Malloy.“And if  a blind tee-shot like the 13th, one caddie will go up ahead to watch the ball flight and signal back to the group. We help each other when we can.”

Depending on the ocean breezes, anything from 4-iron to a sand wedge wqill be suggested for Doonbeg’s signature hole - the spectacular 98-yard par-3, 14th. It's arguably the best one-shotter in Irish golf that demands careful strategy. And at the par-4  15th, toughest second shot on the course is played to a green set in an amphitheatre of dunes.

With the ocean flanking the length of it, the par-4, 18th is a fitting quarter-mile finale. The advice from the caddies is not to bail out too far left if you want to find the deceptive putting surface in regulation.

As caddies trickle in, anxious to see how they have been rated by their players, Frenchman  Craig Greg, who has carried two bags,slumps down in a caddy shack chair: “They were two of the heaviest bags I’ve ever carried,” he moans.

But Michael Howard is upbeat after being well rewarded for his services: “There’s not many other situations where you are put together  with a stranger for that amount of time. We meet all types of people from all walks of life, and one of the great things is the repertoire that you develop with people, especially when you’re together for succesive days.  Tipping can be good, it all depends on the player’s mood and if they’ve had a good round.”

He changes out of his white overalls, slips the envelope of euros into his back pocket and hops on his bike. Another fruitful as a Doonbeg caddie – and this time, he’s cycling home with the prevailing wind behind him.


Where, how much

Doonbeg is located about 40 miles west of Shannon Airport, on the west coast of Ireland. Although Doonbeg is mainly geared towards members and their guests, there’s always an element of pay and play for visitors at a rate €185.00 (Mon-Thurs) and €195.00 (Fri to Saturday) .Look out, too for a special twilight rate (after 4pm).

The Lodge at Doonbeg

Doonbeg's magnificent granite Lodge is located adjacent to the golf course with sweeping views of the Atlantic. The 47 luxury suites have one-to-four-bedroom units, each with its own private living space and kitchen area. They are equipped with everything a discriminating golf traveller requires to relax and entertain and all are individually designed and decorated. Lodge guests can enjoy preferred tee times, five-star dining, spa treatments (with steam rooms, sauna, whirlpool),and fitness room. There's also a pub, golf shop and concierge service.

Prices for suites (per person/per night) are:  One-bedroom (Ocean/Golf course view) €270 (Nov-March), €370 (April), €490 (May to Sept), €370(Oct). Four-bedroom (Ocean/Golf course view) €590 (Nov-March), €810 (April), €1,080 (May to Sept), €810 (Oct)

For reservations and tee times call +353 (0)659055 600 (or 602) Email:  Visit:

Author and photographer

Andrew Marshall has been a professional freelance travel writer for the past 20 years and has travelled to over 50 countries including Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands, Barbados, Panama and Indonesia to cover a diverse range of travel-related features for various magazines around the world. As with this feature, he regularly works with his brother Paul - a professional photographer - on different projects including golf, food and drinks features.

If you enjoyed this feature please visit to download the Marshall brothers’ new golf e-Book “Golf Journeys & Culture”