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.
FOLLOW HIS PROGRESSYou can follow Mike's journey via a custom Google Map, click here !
Well, I made it. I arrived on time into Dublin at 545AM and was on the course at 8AM. Why waste any time I figure. The weather upon arrival was cool and wet which is something I suppose I better get used to. I was a bit tired from the overnight flight but once I got into the car and heading to the golf course, my body and mind came to life.
My first few days have been a wonderful reintroduction to links golf. Portmarnock was my starting point and it was a wonderful choice to get the trip going. My caddie Sean was invaluable and guided me around the course in fine fashion. After getting used to the bump and run, the punch shot, and putting from 20 yards off the green, he joined me for lunch and a pint. Sean has been caddying for quite some time and has been on the bags for PGA Tour players and celebrities .
Royal Dublin was an absolute treasure. The course and clubhouse just completed a multi-million dollar renovation and the results are outstanding. Cavernous bunkers litter the course and swallow all balls that come near. 12 greens have been lifted and redesigned to produce multi tiered and contoured putting surfaces. It is a true test of golf and my host for the day, Denis Murphy, only enhanced the experience. As we played the course he pointed out to me all the changes that had been made and provided me with some great background on the club. Aftewards, we dined in one of the clubhouse bars that provides a stunning view of the 18th hole as well as 3 or 4 others. Cheers to Denis and the staff at Royal Dublin, I look forward to a return visit.
County Louth provided the next test of golf and what a test it was. The sun appeared for a good part of the round, but in place of rain, strong winds took its place. I was joined by 3 lads from London on vacation and it was good fun. On the first hole, it took one of the boys 4 shots to get out of the fairway bunker. I eyed his caddie who had a look of despair on his face, worried about what he had gotten himself into. The wind was fierce and made the course play extra long. On a 141 yard par 3, I was short right by 15 yards with my 3 wood. It was all about keeping it low and out of the wind if you wanted any chance at par. At round’s end, the course had taken it’s toll but we had a sense of accomplishment once done and we toasted our round with a pint in the clubhouse bar.
The game of golf on a links course is one of patience, creativity and accuracy. The weather can make a course play any of a hundred ways and you have put your ego in the bag and hit clubs from distances you never would back home. It is an enjoyable way to golf and combine that with the Irish people and culture and you have an unforgettable golf experience.
I am starting to make my way north and will check back in a few days. Check out this Custom Google Map to track my progress around the Emerald Isle.
As I sit here over the Atlantic Ocean on my way to Ireland I have butterflies in my stomach. I'm nervous, but at the same time excited for what lies ahead. I have played golf in Ireland 6 times over the past 7 years so I am familiar with what I will see. Yet, those trips were for a week’s time and I was always in the company of friends. This time, 10 weeks of golf lie ahead of me and I am riding solo on this one. When I told people what I had planned for the summer, the first question was always, “Has your wife signed off on this?” When I tell them yes, the next question comes, “How did you get her to agree to that?” To be honest, I didn't have to do any convincing. That's not to say that I thought she would be all for this before I brought it up to her. The fact is, I was leaving my job for good and her for 10 weeks. Yet my passion for Irish golf was clear to her and she said she would support me in this project any way she could. I could not have done this without her.Now, a once in a lifetime golfing adventure is before me. 56 rounds of golf in 70 days on some of the best links the world has to offer. It is an aggressive agenda no doubt, but there is much golf to be played here and courses not to be missed. There are 155 true links golf courses in the world and close to 40% of them are in Ireland. I want to make sure I see as many of them as possible.Golf in Ireland is a treasure not to be missed and it is something that all golfers should experience at least once in their lifetime. The Scottish may have invented golf, but the Irish perfected it. So follow along with me here over the next 10 weeks as it is sure to be a trip filled with great golf, comical stories, and remarkable people from all over the world. I am proud to have partnered with FootJoy on this project and it should be a summer never to forget.
Dear Friend of FootJoy,
Summer has arrived and we hope you enjoy your golf. When you hear from us at FootJoy, we often tell you about exciting new products and contests, or ask you to celebrate major victories from the thousands of Tour Professionals who trust FootJoy products every week. Whilst we will continue to keep you informed on the product and Tour fronts, we're going to mix things up a bit.
It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to one of your fellow FootJoy enthusiasts, Mr. Michael O'Toole. Mike is not a Golf Professional, nor does he have aspirations to make golf his profession. Mike is an avid golfer, a 34-year old, six handicap who wrote us a very inspiring letter about his passion for traveling to Ireland and playing golf on the Emerald Isle. Mike recently departed for a TEN week, FIFTY-SIX round golfing trip along the coast of Ireland. FootJoy is getting involved by supporting Mike with all the necessary gear to keep him dry and comfortable: DryJoys golf shoes , DryJoys Performance Rainwear , RainGrip Gloves , Umbrellas, etc. Ireland can obviously offer some challenging weather conditions, so Mike reached out for assistance from the leader in waterproofing!
In return for some great performance products, Mike will share with us several blog entries, entitled "O'Tooles of the Trade", which will cover such topics as:
* Some of the great golf courses he has played
* Tips on how to prepare for Irish weather!
* Inspirations for this 10-week trip
* Some of the lesser-known, but amazing places to play
* How he sold his wife on this 10-week trip!
* Great stories from long-time Irish Caddies
* Travel tips and/or unusual stories from various Pubs/B&Bs.
You can follow Mike's journey via a custom Google Map, click here !
Cristie Kerr fired a final round 70 (-1), including an 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole to take the lead, and held on to win the U.S. Women's Open by two strokes over her nearest competitors. Kerr, who made only two bogeys over her final 45 holes, finished the week with a 279 (-5) total, en route to her first career major and 10th career victory.
Cristie trusted FootJoy golf shoes and a StaSof glove for the biggest win of her career.
FootJoy was the golf shoe of choice at the U.S. Women's Open with 80 (51%) players, more than twice the nearest competitor with 35 (22%).
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