With only three weeks until tee off, the biggest sporting event to hit these shores in 2009 is the 3 Irish Open which takes place in Co Louth Golf Club, Baltray from 14th -17th May. Three Times major champion Padraig Harrington is confirmed, as is the best young talent in golf in years, Rory Mcllory and the talented war horse that is Colin Montgomery. For those who like golf or even those that don’t this A to Z guide of the game will come in handy for when Open is across our TV screens in May.

A is for Age: When Baltray member and Louth local Des Smyth won the 2001 Madeira Island Open he created European Tour history by becoming the oldest winner of a European Tour event, aged 48 and 34 days, beating the record of Neil Coles, who was 48 and 14 days, in winning the 1982 Sanyo Open.

B is for Birdie: In American slang of the 19th Century, the term “bird” was applied to anything particularly great. “Bird” was the “cool” of the 1800s in the US. So on the golf course, a great shot – one that led to an under-par score – came to be known as a “bird,” which was then transformed into “birdie.” The term birdie was in worldwide use by the 1910s, and it’s believed it debuted in the U.S. in 1899. An “eagle” simply followed “birdie,” being added to the lexicon in keeping with the avian image of birdie. And “albatross” later came along for the same reason.

C is for Consecutive holes in one: John Hudson, a 25-year-old professional, achieved a near miracle when he holed two consecutive holes-in-one at the 11th and 12th holes (195 yards and 311 yards respectively) in the 1971 Martini Tournament at Norwich, England.

D is for Dubb: Dubb is a golfing term which means to hit the ball poorly, or a shot poorly executed.

E is for Equipment:  Equipment used in golf has undergone a number of major alterations. The earliest golf sticks were made with thick wooden shafts and long heads. Modern clubs are manufactured with steel shafts and either persimmon wood or chromium-plated steel heads. Today, we use numbers to designate each club; but until the 1920’s each club had its own name. The woods were numbered from one to five, and were known as follows: The Driver, The Brassie, The Spoon, The Baffy, The Clerk. The irons were numbered one through nine and their names were the driving iron, the midiron, the mid mashie, the mid mashie iron, the mashie, the spade mashie, the mashie niblick, the pitching niblick and the niblick

F is for Fewest puts!: Richard Stanwood (in 1976) and Ed Drysdale (in 1985) both share the record with 15 putts on an 18 hole course.

G is for Golf: The word golf itself is probably derived from the Dutch kolf or kolven, or the German Kolbe. Some authorities claim that the source is the Scotch gowf, “blow of the hand.” The game was long known as goff, gouff, or gowff in Scotland.

H is for History: The world’s most land-consuming game is most often traced to humble beginnings in Scotland, but there is no firm evidence that golf originated in that country. Similar games were played in other nations centuries before golf appeared in the British Isles. In the early days of the Empire, the Romans enjoyed a game they called paganica, played with a bent wooden stick and a leather ball stuffed with feathers. Roman legionnaires may well have brought the game to Britain. Golf was banned in 1457 by King James II of Scotland who felt it was distracting young men from archery practice. In the book ‘History of Golf’ written by Robert Browning in 1955, it is suggested that golf is an offshoot of our Celtic/Gaelic game hurling. This medieval golf game originated in a form of practice indulged by hurley players in places which they visited to play an ‘away match.’ One of these games was called Cambuca in England in the 1300s.

I is for the 3 Irish Open: The 3 Irish Open is a European Tour golf tournament which is currently played in May each year. It was first played in 1927 and  had a much more humble prize fund of just £750.

J is for Jesper: Pro golfer Jesper Parnevik once ate volcanic sand to cleanse his body before going on an all-fruit diet.

K is for Krazy: The World’s Longest Golf Course is the International Golf Club in Massachusetts, a long par 77, 8325-yards, from the tiger tees. The World’s Highest Golf Course is the Tactu Golf Club in Morococha, Peru, which sits 14,335 feet above sea level at its lowest point. The Longest Hole in the World is the 7th hole (par 7) of the Sano Course at the Satsuki Golf Club in Japan. It measures a long 909 yards. The World’s Largest Bunker is Hell’s Half Acre on the 585-yard 7th hole of the Pine Valley Course in New Jersey. The World’s Largest Green is that of the 695-yard, 5th hole, a par 6 at the International Golf Club in Massachusetts, with an area in excess of 28,000 square feet.

L is for Longest drive: The Guinness Book of Records records the longest drive on a regulation course is 515 yards by Michael Hoke Austin in 1974.

M is for McIlroy: 19 year old, Antrim native, Rory McIlroy, is one of the brightest talents in world golf. Following an incredibly successful Amateur career, McIlroy turned Pro in 2007 and has continued his good form and will also be starring at the 3 Irish Open.

N is for Numbers: There are an estimated 60 million golfers and 30,000 golf courses worldwide. Within Europe, the UK and Ireland claim 51% of all European golf courses and 43% of all registered European golfers, yet only 15% of the European population. Eighty percent of all golfers will never achieve a handicap of less than 18.Golf tourism brings approx 170,000 visitors to Ireland annually, and contributes an estimated €130 million to the economy.

O is for O My God: President George W Bush’s first date with future wife Laura was at a miniature golf course.

P is for Pink Day: On the second day of the 3 Irish Open – Baltray will be turned pink. Those that pinkify have a chance of winning prizes with all proceeds for the Marie Keating Foundations

Q is for Q School: Q-School is the term used for the PGA or LPGA Tour Qualifying School. Q-School is a week-long tournament in which the top 30 finishers earn their “Tour Cards”, qualifying them for the following year’s tour. The tournament is six-rounds (108 holes) for men and five-rounds (90 holes) for women.

R is for a Ryanair Shot:  A Ryanair Shot is a type of shot that flies well in the air but in the end lands nowhere near where you wanted it to.

S is for the slowest player: According to Golf Magazine Bernhard Langer is the slowest player in on the pro tour, with an average of 90 seconds per putt. So if you plan to play a round with Bernhard, count on adding almost an hour watching Bernhard Putt – assuming only two putts per green. To quote Lanny Wadkins, who has been noted to play some of the fastest rounds on the Tour, “I’ve seen Turtles move faster than Bernhard”

T is for Three – Three times major champion Padraig Harrington who will be playing at the 3 Irish Open.

U is for Unbelievable: You can be certain that no one will ever score a hole-in-one on the seventeenth hole of the Black Mountain Golf Club in North Carolina. The par-six hole, the longest in the world, measures 745 yards from tee to cup. The world’s largest club in the world is undoubtedly the Eldorado Golf Club in California, which includes fifteen individual courses!

V is for Vardon Grip: The almost universally used golf grip, in which the little finger of the right hand overlaps the forefinger of the left. Its invention is attributed to the legendary golfer Harry Vardon.

W is for Worm burner: A worm burner is shot that it is hit very hard and very low along the ground. It is sometimes disguised as being an intentional shot by an amateur playing into a headwind.

X is for Xercise!: Every time you use your driver, you achieve approximately 90% of your peak muscle activity! That is the same intensity as lifting a weight that you can only lift FOUR times because it’s too heavy! Not only that….. during the downswing, the compression on the spine is 8 times your body weight!

Y is for Yips: The yips is a movement disorder known to interfere with putting. The term yips is said to have been popularized by Tommy Armour — a golf champion and later golf teacher — to explain the difficulties that led him to abandon tournament play. The yips affects between one-quarter and one-half of all mature golfers. Golfers seriously afflicted by the yips include Bernhard Langer, Ben Hogan, Harry Vardon, and Sam Snead, whose late-career putting was “painful to watch” according to fellow pro golfer Ben Crenshaw

Z is for Zany: Golf has been played on the moon! (Alan Shepard 1971, they never found the ball!), there are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball and a titanium driver hitting a golf ball can create a sonic boom.