Ballyliffin Golf Club – April 2016 After having a late night watching the fantastic finish at The Masters and not getting too much sleep, I was up early to drive an hour and a half to Ballyliffin Golf Club in Ireland. I arrived at about 7.45am and as the doors seemed to be locked I set my alarm for 8.12am and napped in the car park.
I got out, put some extra layers on (as the wind was chilly) grabbed my clubs and followed another golfer around the side of the building. I made my way into the pro shop and chatted with Sean about the 12th and 16th hole at Augusta and various other golf chat.
I was booked to play The Old Links with Liam at 8.30am and Frank (the current President) at 2pm on Glashedy Links.
Current Captain Liam turned up a little dusty from his golf yesterday followed by Masters viewing and neither of us were too enthused to head out. I am sure it is the last thing Liam wanted to do – get up early after a big night and go and golf with a random stranger but go out we did and the wind invigorated us.
It was crisp and cut right through you and after playing a couple of holes I was very happy (as were my ears) to have located a knit cap in my bag.
We chatted and golfed and chatted about golf. Liam commented that he was happy to play with someone who plays quick like he does. I wasn’t spending a lot of time lining up my putts and I was getting a few in but my master club again today was my Callaway 5w Big Bertha Hawk Eye I bought last Monday.
What a club! It helps I can give it a great whack down the rolling fairways. I love a links course for exactly that and The Old leaves you wondering where your ball has finished as the rolling dunes have many pockets hidden from view off the tee.
I usually have a blow out hole on the front and back nine but today only on the back nine did I have a few terrible shots.
I was so happy with my long game – I can play this game! And in the wind was just an added bonus.
I am always fascinated by a links course as you cannot even tell there is a course rolling through the dunes. Liam was a wonderful guide for his awesome track. The little village nestled on the hill is surrounded by hills and mountains and then to the right – a massive expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
If I was that way inclined I could swim home to Prince Edward Island.
Liam and I fooled around a little, taking photos because we could as there were not many folk out on this crisp Monday morning.
We bumped into Andrew (the Course Manager) and arranged for him to come in for a chat once we finished our round.
I nailed all my shots down the 18th and again was delightedly surprised when I pulled off shot after shot that I was actually trying. Playing links golf is a completely different kind of shot selection and my course management and punch and run game was clearly working.
My game isn’t perfect nor do I think it ever will be but I absolutely love it and it was a wonderful morning of golf with some great company in Liam.
Post round we popped into the clubhouse. The building is relatively new and built by local builders with stone quarried from the area and blends well in with the surrounds.
While Liam enjoyed a fry up (always necessary after a big night) I ate two lunches. I had a potato and vegetable soup to start and followed it with pasta with pesto, pine nuts and goats cheese.
Perfect meal on a cold day with another 18 yet to play.
After interviewing Liam, Frank came in and then Andrew joined us.
I wanted to interview Andrew as I wanted to find out about what it takes to maintain a links course. I love learning about everything – particularly golf.
As Andrew and Liam headed off to work, Frank and I layered up and headed out on Glashedy Links (named for a nearby island) and enjoyed a different test of links golf.
The Old Links is completely natural and has many different elevations and sometimes tricky lies even in the middle of the fairway where Glashedy has been a little manufactured (the fairways were evened out my machinery) so you can pretty much always see your ball if you have driven it down the fairway.
The fairways are tighter on Glashedy and the rough is nastier (well it seemed that way for me). I was playing my second round so perhaps I was also a little tired – or full of pasta. Probably both.
After a blowout on the 2nd I got into the swing of things (heheheh) and was nailing The Hawk (my new favourite club) again and again and again. I drop kicked it a couple of times but overall I was quite impressed with what I achieved with that club today.
It was horrendous weather when we headed out (Frank’s words not mine) and I still managed to hit some fabulous shots. My putting really came on here and while I might not have dropped any long putts they were online or skimming just over the hole with everything finishing within two feet.
There are only three par 3s on Glashedy and while my tee shot on the 14th was quite offline and off down the left hand side I was very happy to come away with a bogey considering the second shot I had (and managed to pull off) up the hill.
I struggled very much in the bunkers on this track. I only landed in four but two I struggled to get out of, persevering as I wanted to practice my bunker work and know what to do and was adamant I was getting out. The other two popped up perfectly and I must say I can’t wait to get back to Canada to practice, practice, practice.
I was hitting my driver as good as if not better than The Hawk (and yes my club now has a name) even with my tired arms and sore shoulder. Frank joined me on the forward tees and got a completely different look at the track he has played for more than forty years and it made me decide to have a play around on my courses in Canada from different tees to play a completely different round.
Glashedy has some very high tees (a pair of par threes – 7th & 14th) that have a wonderful outlook over the course and out to the ocean. I kept commenting about how beautiful it was there and I could see myself living in the small village on the hillside (around travelling the world golfing of course) and it made them both take a moment and look at the beautiful pocket of the world they are lucky to live in.
Having these two courses as their local tracks – now that is a treat!
Another pot of tea and interview post round, then Liam popped in to see how I got on. I met Liam’s father who got him into golf at 8 years old and still plays regularly himself.
Back in the car for my hour and half return journey home and while I am very tired and my face feels wind burnt, I would go back and play another 36 again there tomorrow if I didn’t have to go and check out the start of the Ryder Cup Trophy Tour with Darren Clarke at Royal Portrush.