Hello from Northern Ireland! My travels in the last few days have brought me north through county Meath and Louth and into the UK. That weather has been wet and cold so I definitely hooked up with the right company on this one. I am going to put this DryJoys gear to the ultimate test it would seem.
Okay, a few things that you need to know before you come to golf in Ireland. First and foremost, bring lots of golf balls. You are bound to lose at least a couple of balls a round in the immense rough. Secondly, get used to walking if you are playing the links courses. There are very few carts (or buggies as they are called here) available, if at all. Pull carts are always available but if you want to ride you need to call ahead and reserve one of their precious carts as there may not be one for you if you do not. Lastly, bring waterproof shoes and outerwear!! This is probably not news but it rains quite a bit here. But that is no reason not to golf. Links golf courses can hold a ton of water and it is extremely rare that a course is closed due to rain.
The weather has been tough, but the golf a treat. I had a day (& night) to remember at Laytown & Bettystown Golf Club. Aside from shooting a career best 75 on this sparkling little links, I was made to feel like one of their own by the members here. After completing my round, I spoke with the Honorary Secretary who gave me some great background on the club including the fact that L&B has produced 2 Ryder Cup players, Des Smyth and Philip Walton. After our conversation, he invited me back later to meet some of the member up in the pub. He recommended leaving the car at the B&B and walking here. I should have known that was a sign of things to come. I arrived back at 930PM to find the boys in the pub and was immediately handed a pint and interrogated about my project. It was a fine night with tall tales spoke, lies being told, and a good natured argument here and there. As they say in Ireland, it was good “craic”. We closed the pub and a taxi proceeded to drop us all about town. After watching a tournament with the boys at the club the next morning, I was presented with a jumper (sweater) from the club upon my departure. I was truly honored. Cheers to Jim, Frank, Dave, Pat, and Michael -- I look forward to a return visit.
I tried for 2 days to play Ardglass Golf Club but the rain was torrential and 12 holes were all I was able to muster. The members were probably happy to see me go as it rained so hard they were about to take up a fund to get me out of town. All kidding aside, the members were great and we enjoyed a pint or 2 in the clubhouse when were chased from the course. This is a special place and one not to be missed when in the area.
Royal County Down was next on my list and being rated the #1 course in the world outside the US by Golf Digest, I knew this was something special. Special is not the word I would use for the golf played by my foursome that day. We brought new meaning to the word “amateur”. The course had its way with us but I did have one shining moment. I managed to drain a putt from 30 yards off the green on the 12th hole. Walking to the next tee box, the caddies turned to me and said,
“I have only seen one putt made longer than that here. It was by Michael Campbell.”
“US Open winner Michael Campbell?” I asked.
“That’s right.” He replied.
I can be sure this is the first and last time I will be mentioned in the same breath as any US Open champion.
Well, my next port of call has me along the north coast of Northern Ireland and I will check in from there.
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