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O'Tooles of the Trade- Last rounds and a look back
The last couple of rounds here in Ireland were definitely a fine way to finish off such a great adventure. We made our way across the Shannon River on the Tarbert-Kilmer ferry and arrived into Doonbeg on a crisp, sunny morning. Aside from the world class facilities at Doonbeg, what I find most appealing is the sense of welcome you get from all the staff at the club and lodge. Many clubs with the reputation and the stature of Doonbeg do their best to make you feel like they are doing you a favor by allowing you on the grounds…..not here.
After hitting a few balls on the range our caddies were waiting for us on the first tee. The opening hole at Doonbeg is one that just seems to get better every time I play here. When the sun is shining in the morning and splashes across the first fairway, you are awarded with a view from the tee that is unparalleled. Our match came down to the last hole but I decided to play most of it in the first fairway rather than the 18th. That being said, we lost the match and toasted the round with a nice lunch on the deck outside the clubhouse pub.
We spent the next few hours in the pubs having more than few pints thinking our golf for the day was over. That would turn out to not be the case. A couple of my buddies had gone back out on the course in a buggie to get some additional pictures. When they got back to the pub, they were followed by a group of 5 young boys between 8-12 years old. Apparently, they had challenged my buddies to a match for 50 euros and seemingly wouldn’t take no for an answer. We negotiated a 1 hole match playing from the tips for 50 euro; best score from each group wins.
We went back out got out clubs and congregated on the first tee where most of the folks from the pub came out to watch us tee off. Needless to say there was quite a wide variety of tee shots among the group including mine which went a good 70 yards. As we made our way down to the fairway, the boys had us rolling as they were giving us the needle from tee to green. They certainly weren’t afraid to talk a good game and they had been blessed with the gift of gab. They also had creative ways of finding their balls in the rough. (Most would drop out of their pocket). Lucky for us we won the hole and instead of trying to claim $50 I decided to give them each two sleeves of Pro V1’s which they gobbled up and ran off with. Good fun!!!
The next morning we rode up the coast to Lahinch for my final round of my trip. The weather was overcast, drizzly, and windy which was fitting I thought after the wonderful weather I had for my trip. Lahinch has that small club feel with a modest clubhouse and pro shop and the starter always welcomes you with a smile. My group finds Lahinch to their liking even though most of us spend a lot of time in the weeds rather than the fairway. During our trip we had played a match each day in teams of 2, each day rotating partners. Unfortunately, one of the members of our group who shall remain nameless had gone 0-8 in our first 8 matches. Lahinch was his last round for redemption and wouldn’t you know it came down to the 18th hole. His team was down 1 heading into 18 and he had an 8 foot par putt to win the hole and halve the match. Low and behold, the putt dropped and he was off the schnied.
We spent our last night in the town of Doolin, north of Lahinch. It has been my tradition to always spend my last night in Ireland in this wonderful little town. Known for its world class traditional music, the pubs in this town are always buzzing and full of people from all over the world. Doolin treats us well and we take in a fantastic music session at McGann’s pub and close the night across the street at McDermott’s. A fitting end to a fantastic trip.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe this trip has come to an end. I feel truly blessed as I am one the fortunate few who was able to live out one of their dreams. First, I want to thank FootJoy for taking a chance on a complete unknown. Being able to partner with such a great brand in the golf market allowed me to make this dream a reality. Secondly, I wanted to thank North and West Coast Links, Discover Ireland, and Fairways to Heaven Golf for all of their support as well. Lastly, I wanted to thank my very understanding wife. I still am not sure how exactly I got her to agree to this adventure but from the very beginning she has been my biggest supporter and I know I am truly blessed to have her by my side.
Thank you all for keeping up with my adventures over the summer. If any of you have any questions about my trip or golfing in Ireland in general feel free to contact me at irish-golfer[at]hotmail.com. I hope you all found it an interesting read and I can’t urge you enough if you have a passion for golf, make a pilgrimage to Ireland. It is a magical place that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Hit em’ straight!
-MikeLink to this entry!!!!
O'Tooles of the Trade- Southwest Redux
The southwest of Ireland is a place I could never get enough of. Having played these courses the week prior, it is nice to be back through the area with some familiar faces. We arrived to the Dingle Golf Club and were greeted by heavy rain and stiff winds. Dingle played like a tiger that day as the long holes all seemed to play in the wind and the rough gobbled up many of our balls. We must of take our rain gear on and off 4 times as the rain would appear and then just as quick as it appeared it would blow through. The 18th hole is a par 5 up the hill that played directly into the wind. We had a bet to see if anyone could make a par and the best score that was managed on the hole was a 6. It was a round of golf that took a lot out of us but it didn’t damper our spirits later in the day as we put up a fine effort in trying to visit as many pubs as we could in Dingle. Dingle is a town that is buzzing every night during the high season and one that I am sure to visit on every trip.
After a short drive the next morning we arrived at Tralee Golf Club. The rain had moved out but the wind was still a big factor. I had originally visited Tralee in 2001 and our group had 2 of the best caddies I have ever had. As luck would have it, we got paired that morning with one of the caddies from my original visit named Morris. Morris is a slight man, with a weather faced, which reflected the many rounds he has played and caddied at Tralee. Morris had us all laughing before we even teed off as he told us the to put the yardage book in our “arse” pocket as it won’t do us a bit of good in this wind. As we walked up the first fairway Morris told me “he had has been dead and reborn.” He then explained he had a heart attack a year ago so now I wondered if I should be the one carrying the bag. With Morris’ company we have a fantastic day on the links and as many laughs as we do strokes, (which is a lot). Tralee was a hit within the group and we top it off with a pint in the bar and then hit the road for our early round in Kinsale the next morning.
As we pulled into Old Head, it was clear we had gotten pretty lucky. The sun is shining without a cloud in the sky and the wind was relatively calm, especially for Old Head. The boys were blown away at the views we were afforded that day. One of the guys in our group had played Pebble Beach before and said the views there don’t even compare to what you get at Old Head. The caddies take an interest in the little match we have set up and decide to set up a bit of a wager between them on whose twosome will take the match. I am not proud to say that being 1 up with 2 to play, my partner and I spit the bit and lost the last 2 holes. I must say, my one shining moment was when I made a birdie on a par 3 and my caddie informed me I had beaten Phil Mickelson on this same hole by 9 shots as he carded an 11 on the hole. I am sure he got me on the other 17 holes but this is the one I can hang my hat on. Following the round, we ate lunch and enjoyed a cigar on the deck outside the clubhouse. It is here you will find one of the best places in the world for a post game drink as you look out over the lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean.
Ballybunion awaited us the next morning and this was the one day we were to play 36 holes. I would not recommend 36 holes a day while visiting Ireland as there is just too much to see and do after your rounds. However, with both courses on site we decided to give it a go. I had not played the Cashen Course at Ballybunion so I was curious to see what it held as I had heard varying reports. Our morning round on the Old Course was a blast as we had 2 good caddies who provided proper guidance and found almost all of the golf balls we tried to lose by hitting into the knee deep rough. I find the 17th and 18th holes at Ballybunion to be a great way to finish a round as they are two solid par 4’s that if played correctly, give you a chance to make a birdie. However, if you make a mistake off the tee, you are in for a big number.
We enjoy a long lunch and a pint or two between rounds and head out to the Cashen course for our afternoon round. I had heard that the Cashen Course, while shorter than the Old, was much more difficult. Well, we found that to be true as well. I must say, we did not enjoy the round as much as our round on the Old Course. I had heard that they had a number of proposals in to redesign the course which I think may be a good idea as it did not measure up to the Old Course experience. Of course, there are not many courses that would so you have to keep that in mind.
Well, only a couple of rounds left and I this great adventure is over. We are heading up to County Clare and I will check back in a couple of days.
-MikeLink to this entry!!!!
O'Tooles of the Trade- The Home Stretch
These last few days have been a lot of fun. I first made a return visit to one of Ireland’s most well known courses, Ballybunion. When most people think Irish golf, the Old Course here is one of the first courses out of their mouths. This was my 4th time playing the course and it is a pleasure to play each time. It is not an overly long course by any means but when the wind is blowing it can be a humbling experience which was the case for me. The 15th hole is a par 3 measuring just less than 200 yards and when we got to the tee my caddy handed me my driver and said. “This should get you to about 20 yards short of the green.” I took his word for it and hit a drive square to about 15 yards short of the green. This hole plays into the wind almost all the time and the ladies play it as a par 4 which is a little unfair since they really don’t have anywhere to land the ball short of the green other than the rough. I beat the ball around for most of the day like a 20 handicap but my game comes together on the last 2 holes and I finish par-par. The 18th is a slight dogleg left to an elevated green next to the clubhouse allowing those on the deck to supervise your finish. Although my game was not up to muster, I enjoyed the round and the feeling of history you get when walking the links at Ballybunion.
The next morning I had an 830AM tee time at Lahinch so I headed up there after my round at Ballybunion so I could be close to the course in the morning. That night I made the acquaintance of a few members of Lahinch and what started as “I’ll just have one more, ended with 5 or 6 and usual statements about having to sleep on the couch once they got home.” It reminded of a song from the Irish band Gaelic Storm, “Don’t go for the one.” If you have never heard the song, give it a listen and you will get a good laugh.
I grab a nightcap at Frawley’s Pub. This is a landmark in Lahinch and is run by Mr. Frawley who is said to be the oldest publican in Ireland. It is a tiny pub with one beer on tap, (Guinness of course) and one bartender, Mr. Frawley. He is a man in his 80’s and the bar closes a few times a day so he can have his tea, dinner, and so on. Getting a pint here is like taking a step back in time and an experience not to be missed if every in Lahinch.
The next morning at Lahinch I headed off into a windswept rainstorm for my last round in Ireland with unfamiliar faces. The next morning, 3 friends from the States were to arrive and join me for my last week. Lahinch is a golf course rich in history and tradition. Alister McKenzie designed much of the course as you see it today back in 1927 but there have been some recent upgrades designed by well known architect Martin Hawtree. Both men’s work is superb and the course is a golf experience not to be missed. Lahinch is most well known for its 4th and 5th holes, “Klondye” and “The Dell” respectively. The 4th is a short par 5 downwind that you must play your second shot blind over a towering dune to the green. The 5th is a completely blind par 3 to a green located in the hollow between 3 dunes. There is a white rock placed on the top of the mound to give you a direction to hit. I must say, while these holes are the ones most people associate with Lahinch, I find them to be the 2 weakest on the course. I am partial to the last 5 holes. 14 and 15 are to very long par 4’s that provide a challenge for the longest hitters and 16, 17, and 18 are a par 3, 4 and 5 respectively all heading towards to the clubhouse. It is one of the best finishes in all of Ireland. I toasted my last round with a few pints and called it an early night as my friends were due to arrive at 630AM.
My friends arrived into Shannon in good order and we made our way down to the Ring of Kerry to kick off our week together with a round at the Dooks. I had figured it would be a nice introduction to links for the boys but the day greeted us with strong winds and rain. Instead of a nice, leisurely first round we grind our way around the course trying to keep all of our balls in play with little success. It is a rude introduction to Irish golf but a good time none the less. We overnighted in Killarney and visited as many pubs as we could with the boys having not slept in close to 24 hours.
The next day greeted us with a blanket of sunshine and warm (relatively speaking) temperatures. The boys all played well at Waterville and we were blessed with a caddie who seemed to know every inch of the course. Waterville is a course that grows on you every time you play and I would say that it would fall into the top 5 of all the courses I played this summer.
We are off to explore the rest of Kerry and Clare before we head home. I’ll check back in a few days.
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O'Tooles of the Trade - Familiar Places
Tralee Golf Club is one of my favorite places in the world. My visit this year is my 4th time playing the course and if I had to play one golf course for the rest of my life, this could be one I would choose. Located outside of Tralee town, it is an absolute gem designed by Arnold Palmer. This course is a tale of two nines with a relatively gentle and rolling front nine that leads into a back nine that snakes its way through towering dunes. My favorite holes being the 12th and 13th which is a long par 4 followed by a par 3 that is a complete carry over a grassy chasm hundreds of feet deep. I get teamed up with a father and son from Wales for my round and have the pleasure of having a caddie who is a 3 handicap at the club. He quickly learns that my game has many deficiencies and gets quite a few laughs as I beat the ball around in the rain. The finishing hole at Tralee is a par 5 that climbs to the clubhouse and provides a birdie opportunity to finish your round. Unfortunately for me, it is an opportunity missed.
After a night in Tralee, I head out to the Dingle Peninsula. This is an area of Ireland is one that I always make a point to visit. The town of Dingle is a fishing village that boasts a vibrant nightlife and some fantastic seafood restaurants. Heading past Dingle out to the end of the peninsula, you take a road called Slea Head Drive which provides views unparalleled anywhere in Ireland. Also located at the end of the Peninsula is the Dingle Golf Club. This 18 hole links course boasts to be the most westerly course in Europe. It is not a links you will see mentioned with Royal County Down or Ballybunion, but I find it a wonderful test of golf in a setting that truly makes you feel like you are in god’s country.
From Dingle, I made a stop at a little known 9 hole links course, Castlegregory Golf and Fishing Club. I catch a wonderful sunny day and this course is a hidden gem. After a relatively flat par 5 along a lake filled with swans, you head into the dunes and play 8 wonderful holes. The beach along the course is massive and filled with people enjoying one of the rare sunny days of the summer. I enjoy the round as the course provides two par 3’s around 200 yards as well as a couple of drivable par 4’s. Castlegregory is as fun a 9 as I have played to date. After speaking with some members I find out the course has gotten approval for another 9 holes so I look forward to a return visit in the future.
I spend the night in Castlegregory and it is a good choice as I have one of the most entertaining nights of my trip. I get to attend a fantastic music session that includes customers throughout the night singing and dancing about the club. It is a slice of life here in Ireland and one that makes a trip to this country so unique.
From Castlegregory, I take a ferry across the Shannon River and make my way to the Doonbeg Golf Club. Open for business in 2002, Doonbeg has already vaulted itself among Ireland’s top links courses. Designed by Greg Norman, Doonbeg provides one of the most complete golf experiences in Ireland. From the main road, you take a long driveway over a mile long to the clubhouse and lodge. You arrive under a large, stone archway into a courtyard where you a greeted by multiple representatives from Doonbeg. You are truly made to feel welcome. I am partnered with a father and 2 sons from Arizona for my round and they provide great company. We all struggle as there are 40-50 mph sustained winds and gusts to 65 mph. Even in such tough conditions it is tough not to enjoy the 18 holes Norman has laid out. It is a unique course that provides five par 5’s, five par 3’s and eight par 4’s. It is a course that forces you to use all the clubs in your bag as well as most of your balls. The first hole at Doonbeg is in my opinion the best opening hole I have ever played. It is a par 5 that plays out to a green surrounded by towering mounds on 3 sides giving it a sort of amphitheater feel. Doonbeg also has probably the toughest 100 yard par 3 you will ever play. The shot is directly into the wind as you are hitting straight out to the ocean. You have to hit the green as trouble surrounds all 4 sides and if you miss, you are almost guaranteed a 4 at best. After my round, I share a few pints with my new friends from Arizona and we look back on a tough but enjoyable round at Doonbeg.
I am off to Ballybunion tomorrow and will check back in a few days.
- MikeLink to this entry!!!!
O'Tooles of the Trade - Feels Like Home
I have begun my journey through the southwest and it is everything I remember it to be and more. It is here I have always felt most at home during my visits. It may be that the folks here are even more friendly than normal or that I have always had great times during my previous visits. Either way, it is good to be back.
The Old Head of Kinsale is a course that in just a period of a few years, has built it’s reputation as one of the “must visit” courses in the world. I had seen the pictures and heard about the course from others who had been so I was anxious to see if it lived up to it’s billing. Luckily for me it did just that and more. The previous night and during much of the morning it has poured and poured. When I left for the course it had slowed to a slow mist so I was hopeful to get out. After arriving at Old Head, I found out the course was closed for much of the morning but the golf gods smiled on me as the course was open and the sun appeared to making it’s way out. I was partnered up with an American couple that by chance is from CT as like myself. They had just arrived into Ireland and this was their first round of a weeklong trip. The wind was howling for much of the round but that is par for the course here, as you are 300 feet up on a peninsula with no protection from the wind.
Now I am not going to spend time trying to describe to you what the views are like here. Words, especially mine, would not do them justice. The plain truth is that they are the best I have ever seen and I am not alone in that line of thinking. Now the course is very good with some spectacular holes, especially the 4th that is a long par 5 along the cliff to a narrow approach into a tiny green. The course combines elements of links and parkland on its holes and it is a golf experience one should aim to undertake at least once. My caddy is a 6 year veteran but seems to more concerned with making sure we finish before 4PM because Cork is playing Waterford in the Hurling quarterfinals and it is a replay of game from the week prior in which they tied. Nonetheless we all enjoy the experience and each others company and yes, we did finish in time for the match.
From Kinsale I headed west along the coast road that is a beautiful drive meandering along the coast and over the mountains into County Kerry. Waterville is my desitination. I had visited this course six years prior but had not been there since Tom Fazio redesigned the front 9 here and I was eager to see the results of his work. Not surprisingly, it is a gem. I had thought that the back 9 here was one of the best 9 holes stretches I had ever played and now he has transformed the front to mirror the quality of the back. I had the best day of my trip weather wise as the sun was shining and there was just a light breeze. My caddie was a young lad named Niall who seemed to be about as big as my golf bag, but has been caddying here for 3 years. He is a great kid and is a wonderful caddie for his age. I joined up with 3 Americans for the round and they were good fun. Now, I know I am playing a lot of golf but these boys are crazy. They were playing 36 holes that day at Waterville finishing around 730 or 8PM and then getting the car and driving 3 ½ hours to Kinsale where they are playing 36 the next morning. These lads love their golf. None of us play all that well but you couldn’t help but enjoy yourself in these surroundings. The 18th at Waterville is one of my favorite finishing holes playing right along the beach with the waves crashing on the shore feet away from the tee box. After play, we toast the round in clubhouse with a pint and a bite to eat. They asked if I would like to join them for the next 18 and I politely declined as I had my eye on a Cuban cigar and a pint on the patio in the sun.
Following my successful campaign at Waterville, my next stop was to a lesser known links, the Dooks Golf Club. This course I had also visited 6 years prior and it to had undergone some major renovations designed by Martin Hawtree. It is not on anyone’s list of great course in Ireland but I found it to be a great little links, even better than my last visit. Again, I was blessed with a warm, sunny day and was off alone but get partnered with a fine young caddie named Conner. He is actually from Scotland but spends his summer in the area with his family and had been caddying for a number of years. While Conner still has some learning to do, he supplied great company and was eager to learn how he could be a better caddie. My game was a roller coaster once again but the Dooks supplied a great variety of links holes in a sparkling setting. After the round Conner joins for me for lunch in the clubhouse and we have a good bit of craic. After catching up on a little sleep, I catch a great bit of music at Matt Murts Pub in Caherciveen. This place is half fishing shop/half bar with kegs lined up with cardboard over them for seats. Good fun!
I am off to explore the rest of the southwest and will check back soon.
O'Tooles of the Trade - The Sunny Southeast
The “sunny southeast” is what they call the southeastern part of Ireland as this area receives more sun than the rest of Ireland and is well known for its long stretches of beach. For me however, it is not blessed with the world-class links land found in the rest of Ireland. So rather than bypass the area completely I decided to play some of the area’s finest inland courses as well as some out-of-the-way spots. These rounds provided me great golf, new friends and an introduction to Stableford scoring.
Druids Glen was my first stop and I found this to be just a ton of fun to play. My game has degenerated into a series of slices and mishits but the course is much too good not to enjoy. It would make sense that my game would improve with all the golf I have been playing but somehow I am going in the other direction. The 12th and 13th holes are memorable. The 12th is a par 3 down the hill and over water. Druids Glen has to be one of the most colorful courses I have ever seen. There seems to be every color of flower or bush throughout the course. The face of the tee box on 12 is one many have seen in pictures, as it is a large Celtic cross made from a series of bushes. 13 is a long par 4 measuring around 460 yards and you must hit a very accurate tee shot just to have 200 yards into the green which is made all the better by the fact that you must carry the shot over the pond in front of the green. All in all, a pleasurable round to say the least.
I then met 3 Irishmen playing golf at Faithlegg Golf Club. These boys immediately pull me into their match and I am told we are playing a game similar to nassua using the Stableford scoring system. I say no problem, just let me know what I owe at the end. We spend the next 4 hours giving each other the needle and I am told I owe 10 Euro once complete with the round. The good thing is the winner has to buy the pints in the bar at the end so I think I actually made out in the deal. We all have a good bit of craic and the boys invite me to join them in a 4 ball tournament in 2 days time which I gladly accept.
Between then I make a stop at Mount Juliet, which has been home to the American Express Championships on 2 occasions. I am paired with a member for the day and neither one of us put up a score to boast about in the pub afterward. I manage a smooth 10 on one hole dropping 3 balls in the water yet I can’t help but have fun as I just think of where I am.
The next day I join the lads once again for the 4 ball tournament at Enniscorthy Golf Club. Most clubs in Ireland have Open weeks where they hold tournaments every day open to anyone with a handicap. The best part is the greens fees are usually half of what they normally are. Gerry, Gerry, Tom and I have another enjoyable 18 holes although it would seem our scores were not the type to bring home any of the prizes. Tom is in his 70’s and hits the ball as good as most men 25 years his junior. His one problem is the putter and after 16 holes of terrible putting, he is lining up a birdie putt from about 25 feet. Gerry is holding the flag and pulls it out to which Tom says he can’t see the hole so put it back in. Gerry immediately tells Tom he is probably better off if he can’t see the hole. When you have friends like that, who needs enemies. After a pint in the bar to cheers the good company, I bid the lads adieu and head further south.
I spend the next few days playing a number of courses including a singles competition at Dungarvan Golf Club, which I found to be a surprisingly good course. Once I arrive in the area of Cork city I play a round at the Cork Golf Club and Fota Island. Both are worthy tests of golf and if in the Cork city area, worth a visit. I spend a memorable evening in a pub on Plunkett St. in Cork city. An Bodhran is the name and this tiny pub had one of the most eclectic groups of customers I have run across in my travels. It seemed every language was represented here but everyone was chatting and telling stories. Spontaneous sessions of dance and song break out which I find to be quite entertaining. I am there for a few pints too many but fortunately for me it is a short walk home.
Well, I am heading now to what some people would consider the crown jewel of Irish golf…the southwest. I’ll check back after a few rounds there.
- MikeLink to this entry!!!!
O'Tooles of the Trade - To The Open and Back
What can I say about the British Open this year that has not already been said? It has been a tournament that I have always wanted to attend and thanks to the hospitality of Fairways to Heaven Golf, my wife and I had the best seats in the house; on the balcony above the 18th green at the Carnoustie Hotel. It was surreal to be that close to all the action as the drama unfolded. Despite the weather, fans turned out in the thousands ready for the weather with umbrellas and rainsuits in hand. It was a once in a lifetime experience and one that I will never forget. I never fully appreciated the difficulty of an Open set up until I got to see it in person. It was never more clear to me just how good these guys are.
After attending the Open in Scotland I returned to the Dublin area for a few more rounds of golf before heading south. My first round back had me at the Island Golf Club located just north of Dublin. In May of 2005 this course was ranked number 26 in the world by Golf World magazine. I had the pleasure of playing with the 3 members of the club who provided great craic and some interesting background on the club. One note I found very interesting is that the course was only reachable by boat all the way up until 1973. Being located on an estuary, the members would take a short boat ride from Malahide to get to the course. The old clubhouse had a white disc on the side and when the members wanted the boat to return, they would turn a flap to make the disc half black and half white indicating the boat man to come get them. Being that this club was established in 1890, they did this for 83 years! Now that is dedication.
A few days later, I had the pleasure of playing the Links at the Portmarnock Hotel. This links course, designed by Bernhard Langer, is located right next to the more well known Portmarnock Golf Club. While the Links at Portmarnock Hotel does not get the publicity that its more storied neighbor does, I found it to be every bit the test of golf. Langer's placement of pot bunkers in the fairways and around the greens is well thought out. Accuracy and not length will keep your score down on this links. I am paired up with a fellow from Germany for the day and we have good fun on the links. Prior to teeing off the first tee a fellow comes out of the starters hut and greets us before the round. We get a slight interrogation as to where we are from and where plan on going this evening after the round. After we give our answers, he gives us a warning. “Be careful of the Guinness. It will
make you see double and act single!” A character no doubt. While my playing partner for the day struggles, he is good company and always has a smile on his face even if he has just hit his second ball off the tee into waist high rough. With about 4 holes left in our round, the sun disappears and a strong and windy rain rolls through. In order to stay dry we had to hold our umbrellas sideways! 5 minutes later, it was gone and the sun came out again. You certainly can get 4 seasons in 18 holes in Ireland.
I headed out of Dublin south into County Wicklow. The O’Tooles of Ireland made a name for themselves here in Wicklow along with the O’Byrnes. Back in the day apparently both families were a bit of a thorn in the side to the English. Living up in the Wicklow Mountains both families regulary raided the English and basically made things unpleasant for them. O’Toole is still a name found frequently throughout the county. I made a stop into the Bray Golf Club which is a little parkland course that has recently moved from one side of town to the other. I received a warm welcome and enjoyed a round on a course that is setup a little more like what I am used to at home. While Bray is not on the level of the Mount Juliet or Druids Glen, it is a fun round of golf nonetheless. It was in immaculate shape and the view from the 11th tee down into Bray Harbor is as good as you’ll find in Ireland.
For my next round, it was back to a links course and one that really is somewhat special to me. The seed for this whole project was planted seven years ago when I played my first round of links golf at the European Club. It was here I first experienced true World Class links golf and it set me on my path to today. Since it has been seven years since I had been here I looked forward to coming back. The European Club is owned and designed by Ireland leading golf course architect, Pat Ruddy. The course only opened for play in 1993 after Ruddy discovered the property while surveying the coast by helicopter. Golf Digest has ranked the European Club number 2 in the top 100 courses in Ireland and I may argue that it is the best. Ruddy’s design is superb and offers a golfer a stern test of links golf. Ruddy makes wonderful use of his bunkers which are unique in their construction as they are framed with wooden railway planks so you get some interesting bounces should you hit one of these planks. Another interesting facet of this course is that in most days there are 20 holes in play. During my round, all 20 were open however you were told to throw out your scores on 6 & 14 as those greens had been recently aerated though I found them to be in rather good condition considering. I had a sparkling, sunny day for my round with the usual strong winds you get along the Irish Sea. The European Club was also host to the Irish PGA Championship the week before the British Open this year. The European Club was everything I remembered it to be and more. This course is a “can’t miss” while golfing in Ireland.
Well, I am off to the Southeast and will check back in a few days.
O'Tooles of the Trade - The Northwest
The links golf in the northwest of Ireland is an area that is crying out to be discovered. The links are magnificent, affordable and offer you a glimpse of the past. These courses are located in little villages that offer you a sense of welcome and a slower pace of life. The scenery is striking and you can drive on some of these roads seemingly forever and not see another car. Just recently a new direct air service from NY and Boston has been started into Knock Airport in County Mayo. This new service combined with the marketing initiatives of companies like North and West Coast Links should only help these gems to be unearthed by those outside of Ireland
County Sligo Golf Club is a splendid links course located just outside of Sligo town. Aside from a few holes located up on a hill, it is a flatter, more traditional links. The tee for the second holes offers one a view of the 15 holes below as well as a long stretch of beach. It is a view seemingly from a postcard and I had it all to myself. I made my way around the links in fine fashion shooting a personal best 74 (+2). I used the bump and run to perfection as I got up and down no less than 9 times that round. It may not have been pretty but a 74 is a 74. I decided to celebrate my round by taking in a music session at the Anchor Bar in Sligo town. I got there around 8:30 and there is barely a soul in the place. An hour later and the bar was packed. What follows is a 2-hour music session as good as I’ve heard in Ireland. By the end of the night there were 4 tables pushed together and 15 of us buying pints for each other. It was a night to remember and a morning to forget.
My hopes for better weather did not come to fruition as I got rained out of my round at Strandhill the next day. Upon arrival into the parking lot it was POURING sideways and I counted 2 cars in the parking lot. Rather than walk to the Pro Shop I called from the car stating who I was and that I was thinking of coming back in a little while to see if the weather improves. He paused and said, “Well, the sheet is pretty booked up today so I don’t know if I can get you out.” I waited a second for him to tell me he is kidding, but he is dead serious. Since I knew I wouldn’t be back anytime soon, I put on every stitch of DryJoys raingear I could find and headed out. A few people huddled under an overhang looked me over like I was out of my mind (I was thinking the same thing as well). I went out into the worst weather I have played in on this trip or any of my previous 6 visits. I made it through 5 holes and there was so much standing water they had to close the course. I know Ireland is known for it’s rainfall but this was starting to border on the ridiculous.
I played the next day at Enniscrone and I was paired with 2 guys from Sweden who offer great company for the day. It was an enjoyable links, but certainly one to test any golfers mettle. We spray golf balls over most of the property and one of the boys decided to pull out a few cans of Carlsberg and enjoy the round in another fashion. My golf bag is filled with rain gear and golf balls so I had wait to until the 19th hole for my pint even though I could’ve used one at the time. This course was originally a 9-hole track but the great Irish golf course architect Eddie Hackett designed the extension to 18 in the 1970’s and he has produced a true gem not to be missed.
A visit to Carne Golf Links followed. The course is located in the extreme northwest of Ireland outside of Belmullet, Mayo. The course was built with the purpose of attracting tourists to the remote area of Ireland and is owned and operated by Erris Tourism, a community owned and controlled company. The course played like a fine symphony. It starts relatively tame, but each hole is better than the next. The back nine builds to a fever pitch through some of the most intimidating links land Ireland or the world has to offer. During my round I catch up with 2 members and play a few holes with them as they are only out for nine. I notice one of the fellas is wearing a Red Sox hat and in his American accent he asks me where I am from as we are introduced. I tell him I am from Red Sox Nation and a wide grin come across his face. In talking with him I find out this area had such a profound affect on him 9 years ago, he quit his job and moved here for good. “I found paradise”, he said. I think I may agree.
My last round before my week off and a visit from my very understanding wife was played at Connemara Golf Club. It was a sparkling day; finally the weather gods smiled down upon me. I have the good fortune of being teamed up with a group of 11 Americans looking for one more player. I am immediately made to feel part of their group and we have a grand time on the course. Connemara Golf Links is a course that grows on you as you play. The landscape differs from most links courses as rocky formations dominate the landscape. From the tee box, the course looks pretty straightforward and not overly difficult. Yet, Eddie Hackett has produced a links that will jump up and bite you in the behind if you go astray. The views of the bay are spectacular. Even from a good distance, you can see how crystal clear the ocean is. It’s quite a sight to see.
The 13th hole is a 200-yard Par 3 and is one of the most enjoyable holes I have played in Ireland. It’s a beautiful sight from the tee and an intimidating tee shot to say the least. None of us make a birdie but it is a hole you could play over and over again. After the round, the 12 of us sit out on the deck overlooking the course at the brand new clubhouse at Connemara. We salute the round (and the sunshine) with a few pints. Cheers to the Friends of Mark (FOM)!
Well, it’s time for some R&R. I’ll check in once back on the Emerald Isle.
- MikeLink to this entry!!!!
O'Tooles of the Trade - Golf Karma
These last 6 days have brought me to some spectacular settings. My first stop was a little 18 hole track in Donegal called the Northwest Golf Club. It is a spot most folks have not heard of but it has been around for over 100 years and is a founding member of the Golfing Union of Ireland. I arrived at the club in an absolute downpour only to find the door to the pro shop was locked. I noticed a few people out on the course so I ventured out, figuring I would pay upon completion of the round. A soggy 3 hours and 18 holes later, I returned to the pro shop only to find the door was still locked. Believing it was the right thing to do -and to protect my ‘golf karma’- I took out some money and slipped it under the door. Northwest will not be mistaken for Royal County Down or Lahinch but I found it to be a fun little links. What made my round even more interesting was that I did not have a scorecard (locked in the shop)- so I had to make a few educated guesses along the way…..
Rosapenna was my next stop. This facility offers two 18-hole championship links courses; Old Tom Morris and Sandy Hills. What I like most about this facility is the fact that each course presents it own unique test of golf. The Old Tom Morris course, designed by its namesake, is a much more traditional links in the vain of the famed St. Andrews. The fairways are flatter and wider but the greens and bunkers are a true test-- you can make a big number in a hurry. On two holes you actually have to hit across the town’s main road (which was probably a dirt path when this course was designed back in the late 1800’s). I found it to be a wonderful links despite the fact that we were temporarily chased off the course due to the driving rains that came in. The Sandy Hills course, which only opened in 2003, offers a much different experience with links running through a series of massive dunes presenting you with elevation changes, tall rough and uneven lies. Accuracy off the tee here is crucial- my playing partners found this out the hard way on the first 5 or 6 holes. Both courses were in excellent shape and the round was perfectly topped off with a pint and hot bowl of soup in the new golf pavilion. Rosapenna is located in the little town of Downings and if you are ever in the area you need to stop into The Singing Pub. This thatched-roof pub up on the hill guarantees a great night of music and craic, as I can attest. Not to mention a wee little headache the next morning.
For the next leg of the journey, I headed south out of Rosapenna to a wonderful little links course called Narin & Portnoo and for the first time all trip, I got lost trying to find the place—not bad considering all the miles I have logged thus far! I was greeted by one of the members of the club, Tom Plunkett who was a fantastic host. He joined me for the round with the challenge of a match- to which, of course, I accepted. Tom is the principal at the local school and he provided me with some excellent background on the course as well as the surrounding area. Narin & Portnoo have recently finished extensive renovations and this links is definitely worth taking the time (and skill) to get here. The views from the holes are truly amazing, especially the 10th. This breathtaking par 4 runs down the hill and out to a green that is nestled out into the bay. It is as fun a links hole as you will find anywhere in the world. The secret is to NOT hit it into the 11th fairway off the tee- the unfortunate route I chose. The tee for the 11th hole extends right out into the water and in the late summer dolphins can be seen up close frolicking in the bay. In addition to being a wonderful little links, this is one of the better values in Ireland with greens fees averaging 60 Euros.
After a very enjoyable experience at Narin & Portnoo I headed south to Donegal Golf Club. There I joined up with a group of 6 Americans who provided great company for my round. One of the golfers in my foursome turned out to be a 16 year veteran of the LPGA and current member of the Legends Tour. It’s refreshing to watch someone take a swing at a golf ball with sound mechanics. The sun was out for much of the day but the wind kicked up to a steady 30-35 mph. Holes into the wind played so much longer that a bogey on the par 4’s into the wind are great scores. Donegal is a natural links providing a nice variety of holes as well as wonderful views of Donegal Bay. The course has only been in existence since 1959 but it looks as though it has been there forever. After the round, we retired to the pub in the spacious, modern clubhouse and watched a bit of a hurling match on TV. Hurling is a gaelic sport and they say it is the fastest field sport in the world. I just think they are plain crazy. If you don’t know what hurling is, look it up on the internet and you will think the boys in the NFL have it pretty easy.
I am off to Sligo, Mayo and Galway and will check back in a few days.
O'Tooles of the Trade - Back to the Republic
A cold and wet welcome from County Donegal. The golf has been amazing despite the fact that I haven’t seen a dry day for about 2 weeks. I have made my way out of Northern Ireland back into the Republic of Ireland. My last few days have been spent in the Inishowen Peninsula, where I have come across some of the best links golf that many people have not heard of. This area is a secluded retreat that offers many small beaches with mesmerizing views of the ocean coupled with tall hills that peak into the clouds. This is also an area where gaelic is still spoken and many of the signs are written solely in the Irish language.
The Ballyliffin Golf Club, which has two championship links courses, was first on my list. As you head out of the village towards the course, you look down the hill onto the largest stretch of linksland I have ever seen. As I said they have two courses here and after talking with some folks at the club, there is enough open land to build two more. However, doing any development today on linksland in Ireland is next to impossible due to environmental restrictions. My first round had me on Ballyliffin’s Old Course where Nick Faldo has recently done a lot of work to upgrade this 18. His work has produced a classic links that is not overly long, but demanding of precision as he has placed new bunkers throughout the course. The wind and rain once again are part of my round but as I make the turn, I am lucky enough to join up with 3 members from the club who were heading out to play the back nine. They are good fun, and not afraid to let the other ones know when they have hit a bad shot. I am becoming an expert on finding golf balls in the rough, which is one skill I can say I am not exactly proud of. Once we complete our round, my playing partners are kind enough to invite me up to the clubhouse for a pint and a bowl of soup. I try to pay for their pints but they will have none of it. They tell me the club has approximately 1400 members, which I find amazing considering the location of the club. However, a membership at these Irish golf courses is quite minimal and allows people from all walks of life here to be members, which is something you rarely see back in the States.
The following day I played the Glashedy Links which is the newer of the two courses at Ballyliffin. The course is named after Glashedy Island, which is a small island located just off the coast from the golf course and can be seen from many points on the links. This track is a bit longer and it winds its way through some imposing dunes providing some eye-catching views of the course, the clubhouse and the ocean. I had requested a caddie for the day but when I arrived at the course it was absolutely pouring and I did not see any caddies waiting to go out. On the first hole, I was finishing out my par and noticed a young man running up the fairway towards me. I putt out for par as he reaches the green. “Did you ring for a caddie?” he asks. “I did.” I reply and we make our introductions. The young man’s name is Connor and I thank him for coming out in such ‘lovely’ weather. We head to the second tee to play the next hole which is a par 4 with OB along the right side. I then blow 2 drives directly over the OB fence. I look back at Connor and a look of terror is on his face as he is wondering what he just got himself into. I say to him, “You can go back if you like.” He pauses for a second and says, “No worries, we’ll get you straightened out.” I am happy to say that is just what happens as I make 2 birdies on the front and play a solid round of golf. For a young caddie, he knows the course well and is a more than capable reader of putts. I would say the Glashedy links is a tougher test of golf but both are equally enjoyable and each presents to you a separate challenge.
After the round we head into the clubhouse which is about as nice as I have seen in my travels. The second floor bar and restaurant provide sweeping views of both courses and is a fine place to toast to a round completed. Ballyliffin is an interesting town in that there are 5 small hotels but only about 100 permanent residents in town. In talking with the Pro at Ballyliffin, he says, “It is quite busy in the summer months, but in the winter, it is just me and the sheep.”
One thing that I would like to mention before I head off is some charity work that I have been lucky enough to start in conjunction with my trip. In November of last fall, my mother passed away after a 30 year battle with Multiple Sclerosis. I spent much of those final months in her hospital room planning this trip and telling her about my progress. Much of the time she was unconscious but I know she was listening. After she lost her battle with MS, I decided to try and raise some money to help fight this terrible disease. I am happy to say that I have partnered with the National MS Society and created a fundraising campaign around my trip. Our goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of my trip that will go directly to the National MS Society. Just being able to raise awareness of the disease to readers like you is valuable in itself. If you would like to learn more about the fundraising campaign and how to make a donation please click on the link below.
Well, I am off to western Donegal County for my next few rounds. Keep your fingers crossed that summer will make an appearance and I will check back shortly.
O'Tooles of the Trade - Northern Swing
Cead Mil Failte from a cold and wet Causeway Coast in County Antrim Northern Ireland. (“Cead Mil Failte” is an Irish Greeting meaning “a hundred thousand welcomes.”)
My swing through the north coast began in Ballycastle and then brought me to two of the world’s premier links courses, Royal Portrush and Portstewart. These two courses are only 3 km apart and are a “can’t miss” on any trip to the area. My round at Royal Portrush actually provided a peak at some sunshine but fierce winds made this course a test of patience and accuracy. The sun only enhanced the wonderful ocean views provided on most holes as well as the views of Dunluce Castle that can be seen from the east side of the course. Royal Portrush was the first course to hold an Open Championship (1951) in Ireland and it truly lived up to its lofty reputation. Low and straight was the order of the day but these orders were not always followed. My caddie for the round was a wonderful gentleman by the name of Johnnie Martin. Johnnie stood about 5’3” tall and had to be about 70 years old. He had been a milkman for 35 years but now caddied 4 or 5 days a week for the exercise. He did his best to keep me out of trouble but I did not cooperate. The 14th hole at Portrush is their signature hole fittingly named, “Calamity Corner”. Measuring 210yards from the back tee this is one hole that is all carry over a deep ravine that covers the whole right side of the approach. Johnnie says to me, “It is playing all of 220 and make sure you don’t go right.” Naturally I hit the ball about 175 yards and to the right down the ravine. Johnnie mentioned on a number of occasions that he played in a lawn bowling league and it was great fun. I think he was trying to drop me a hint that maybe I should consider the same after my display of golf that day. All kidding aside, Johnnie was good company for the 18 holes and he even offered a place to stay at his house for the night. I thought to myself, “Only in Ireland!”
My day at Portstewart provided no look at the sun, but rather heavy wind and rain. My new DryJoys have been an absolute necessity so far in this trip and have passed this test with flying colors. The front nine at Portstewart are as fine a nine holes of links golf as I have ever seen. Sadly, I witnessed a young man’s introduction into links golf at the second hole. It is a short par 4 to an elevated green surrounded by dunes. Any ball short of the green will roll back about 20 yards to the bottom of the hill. The young lad’s approach shot to this green had landed just in front and rolled down the hill. He chipped his next shot just short and it rolled back to the same spot. He repeated that shot and once again it ended up back at his feet. He made sure he got the next one up on the green as it stopped about 30 feet past the pin in the front of the green. As if three shots from the bottom of the hill weren’t bad enough, his putt went right by the hole, down the hill, and into the same position he had started from. He then chipped back on and 3 putted. Give the boy credit, he continued on with his round although he did end up playing with one less club than he started with after a brief battle between his club and his bag. You guessed it, the club lost. After drying out from my round, I spent a great night at the Anchor Bar in town watching a fantastic set of traditional Irish music. This type of music is a personal favorite and I was not disappointed. The music was first rate and I met people from France, Spain, England and of course, Ireland. It is this type of evening that makes the golf experience in Ireland so unique and one not to be missed.
Castlerock is a charming links that is situated right across the River Bann from Portstewart. While it may not get the publicity of Royal Portrush and Portstewart, it is a superb links course and a delight to play. As we stood on the tee, the starter gave us one bit of advice. “If you hit a ball into the rough and you see it bounce, you don’t need to hit a provisional. If you don’t see it bounce, hit a provisional because you will never find it.” With that little bit of advise given, we followed it to a T more often than we would of liked but the weather turned brighter as the day wore on. I had good company for the day, being paired up with 3 lads on a short golf holiday from England. They had played the day prior in the same pouring rain and the brightening skies made this round even more enjoyable. After our round, we shared a pint and said our goodbyes as they were off to the airport and me back to the B&B.
My next leg of my journey has me heading back to the Republic of Ireland for a week worth of golf in County Donegal. I have not played here before but have heard fantastic things about the area. Keep your fingers crossed that summer makes an appearance and I will check back in a few days.
- MikeLink to this entry!!!!
O'Tooles of the Trade - Heading North
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.
- MikeLink to this entry!!!!
O'Tooles of the Trade - The Arrival
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.
O'Toole's of the Trade - The Flight
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.
- MikeLink to this entry!!!!
O'Tooles of the Trade - Intro
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 ! Link to this entry!!!!