Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Best of Ireland 2006" Trip Report

"Best of Ireland 2006” has come and gone, but what a trip. Our vehicles logged over 1200 miles. We had a few snags along the way, but all in all, the trip ran rather smoothly. There were a few missed turns, but fewer than in years past, due to the navigation efforts of Windell and Eddie, but also due to the competition that has developed between the “van duo” and “the bus rigade”. Seeking not to be outdone, the secretary worked hard to reduce “missed turns”. It was with great pleasure that pay back came in Carndonagh when the “van duo”, while leading, missed the R238 turn in Carndonagh towards Ballyliffin.

We ran the gamut in Ireland, learning where we would like to replay, the courses of the southeast such as The European Club (where we played all day for one rate), Portmarnock, and “The Island Club”, and areas we intend to avoid in the future; namely, the southwest which has for sometime been in a “soak the American tourist” mode. There was a couple of exceptions in Waterville and Lahinch but not worth coming back to the area. Never again will the secretary play the over priced “Old Head of Kinsale” where we paid 50 euros for 13-14 year old boys who were passed off as senior caddies. Along with a 275 euro green fee price tag, several of the junior caddies lied to new members of our group as to what they were supposed to be paid. (Always negotiate the price of caddies including tip before any round of golf anywhere.)

We learned good value in hotels such as “The Great Southern” at the Dublin airport and dumps such as Treacy’s Hotel in Enniscorthy, which cost exactly the same for a night’s stay. We confirmed, once again, that the North has better roads, and plenty of good courses including the top two in Ireland (Portrush and Royal County Down). We strengthened our relationship with Ballyliffin, where the Pro-Am tournament continues to be the richest social experience and least expensive three days of golf in all of Ireland.

Even though we had a lot of rain in our first day Saturday round, our teams managed to score respectably under the conditions. Sunday afternoon was different as better weather enabled two of our teams to rise to the top two spots on the Glashedy course. Playing with my son, Pat, pro-Seamus Clinton, and Ryan Doherty, a sixteen year old junior member, our team finished first with 88 points in the Stableford, best two ball competition. This was out of fifty four teams. That followed Saturday’s 75 points on the Old Course. Windell and Joe had the best junior girl, Agnes Doherty, and Donal Gleeson for their Pro. They finished second with 86 points on Glashedy on Sunday and also won crystal. Overall, our team nosed out the Howard/Humphries team by one point for the two day tournament.

Another highlight of the trip was our round at Royal County Down. There I met Oliver, a seventy something year old caddie who shepherded the secretary into his best round of the trip, an 83 with an eagle and three birdies, garnering 31 Stableford points, clearly my best ever. What made this so special was my son Pat, playing with me, also had an eagle and scored 28 points. When it came time to leave I wanted to take Oliver with me. He made me relinquish my “go for it” mentality, and for just one round made a pretty good golfer of the Secretary. Pat went on to play well at Ballyliffin and it was due largely to his great play that we were able to bring home “The Crystal” .

There were comical moments, as when the Secretary tried to follow Joe Howard’s van over a hump at The Island Club and drug off a muffler and tail pipe assembly from the bus. Many photos were taken of the Secretary as he struggled to disengage the back portion of the tail pipe assembly and wire up the front muffler and tail pipe portion so the trip could continue. Many miles later at Carndonagh, I managed to find a muffler shop open just before Friday afternoon closing. There three boys were found ranging in age from about thirteen to twenty five. The three were covered with dirt and grease from head to toe. They looked as if they had each been made up for a presentation of the Charles Dickens play, Oliver Twist. After surveying the situation and much discussion between the three, they went to work. The youngest pumped on the jack and literally ran back and forth with tools that the senior member requested. The third young man acted as the “holder” of the apparatus as it was lifted back into place. When the work was completed I asked the oldest what I owed. He meekly replied, “a tenner”. I asked if he was sure and he replied just “a tenner”. Before Eddie Caldwell and I left, I called him back and tried to give him another ten euro. He would not take it! If there was any doubt why I fell in love with this part of Ireland in 1999, it was erased by three dirty and greasy, but proud young men in Carndonagh, Ireland.

Best of Ireland 2006 What a great trip!!!!!!!!!

If you have any memories you would like to share of your experience of this trip or any other golf trip to Ireland, please share them in the comments section. I would love to hear them! In addition, if you have any questions regarding this post or anything related to links golf, please ask them in the comment section as well. I am sure me or one of our readers could answer it.

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