St Anne’s Golf Club – March 2017 – I arrived at Santa Cruz Airport in Bolivia at 10pm Tuesday night and flew to Panama, waited 6 hours, flew to Newark and after a few hours there, flew on to Dublin.
I arrived in Dublin at 4.47am and after an anxious wait as I watched most collect their luggage and leave, my clubs finally came out.
I picked up my hire car at 5.45am and drove directly to St Anne’s Golf Club which is situated on Bull Island just outside of Dublin. I sat in the car watching the sun come up – well the overcast sky change colour before I went into the club house at 7am. I could hear someone pottering around but I waited and read the wall about the history of the club and the surrounding area.
Stephen Aylmer came downstairs and looked at me and asked if I was the girl from Twitter. I agreed that I was and he apologised as there was no one to meet me. I assured him all was good as I had plenty of time and had just arrived fresh of the plane.
We had a cup of tea and chatted while he gave me a tour. I asked if he was the assistant pro and he told me he was the Head Greenkeeper. I then wanted to know all about the course, aspects of maintenance, his golf history and how long he had been at St Anne’s. Decades as it turns out.
The view from the clubhouse looks out over the water on one side and is circled by towns on the outskirts of Dublin on the other.
At my first look at the links course and I got a little bubble of excitement thinking I would be teeing it up there soon.
I love a links course and am going to get quite a fix of links golf my next six weeks in Ireland and Scotland.
Stephen showed me the showers as that was very necessary and as he went off to work, I washed the travel away.
As I was coming out of the shower a head popped around the bathroom door and quickly vanished and as I came into the locker room I said hello as I continued putting extra layers on.
Betty is a member at St Anne’s and has been golfing on and off for 60 years but says she had decades away from the game until she realised that she in fact loves golf and the social aspects associated with being a member at a thriving club.
After a good golf chat with Betty, I headed out and spoke with Cormac Henessy about St Anne’s, my golf history and Fairways.
He told me that his new assistant pro (who hasn’t actually started work yet – he is starting Monday) Sergio Coyle was to join me and tee it up.
Sergio arrived and we headed out into the brisk Irish weather. Usually it takes me a few days to get back in to the swing of things and find I can’t swing a club very well after getting off a plane but I surprised myself.
My first drive split the fairway and we were off. There was a little wind to contend with and I am sure this course would be very difficult when a gale is blowing.
We got to know each other as we walked and had a wonderful golf chat. Sergio who is half Spanish half Irish was quite curious as to how I ended up in Bolivia.
Sergio had spent quite a few years in Spain and we discussed his golf history, his direction change and how he found himself back in Ireland.
Sergio had the remarkable pleasure of golfing and spending time with Seve Ballesteros before he got ill. Sergio had been golfing with Seve’s son and he did say that Seve didn’t like him at first and had no time for him. Then one day Seve went up to Sergio pointed at him and said we will golf together.
As they golfed Seve practiced his English and Sergio recalls one of his favourite memories of sitting with Seve, Seve’s brother and an old friend as they reminisced about their childhood.
What a conversation to be a part of!
This was also Sergio’s first time of golfing at St Anne’s so we negotiated the various hazards while he referred to the course guide. He was throwing darts as I challenged myself from all over the course.
While I had a couple of drop kicks, I was swinging quite free considering the amount of travel I had done before arriving at St Anne’s.
There were quite a few ladies out and many were new members (I knew this from my conversation with Betty). We were waving and smiling and it was great to see the course very busy. Sergio said the times he has been there the course is always busy and Cormac and Sergio have big plans to revitalise their junior program.
I was delighted to be back in Ireland, golfing and I was loving the links.
The course is a nice test of golf and I must say the bunkers were lovely. I spent quite a bit of time in bunkers as my ball seemed to have a sand magnet. I lost a ball in the water – it seems the only time I got back spin (unintentionally) it spun back in to the water.
Travelling and playing new courses I am happy if I shoot between 100 and 106 and carding a 107 after coming direct from the airport I was delighted. I had some great golf come off my club and while there was some terrible shots and drop kicks and miss hits, overall it was more good than bad.
Post round I met Niall Carroll, the Club Manager, who had invited me to play when he saw my tweet that I was heading to Ireland.
We had a talk about St Anne’s and Fairways and Niall said he was fascinated with my story and wanted to know more, hence the invitation. I am very pleased to say that St Anne’s Golf Club will join Fairways in our Dawn 2 Dusk Fundraiser in June.
I joined Niall and Sergio for lunch and enjoyed an amazing warm goats cheese and chicken salad for lunch and as the boys had to rush off I finished my lunch while chatting with the lovely girl in the bar.
I had a wonderful visit and being able to speak with Stephen, Betty, Cormac, Sergio and Niall, I got a great overview of the whole club.