Strandhill Golf Club – April 2017 – After being invited to play at Strandhill Golf Club thanks to Anne Foley Smith’s advocacy, I turned up at 9.30am and I met with the course Superintendent, Gerry “The Foxy Bandit” in the pro shop. He arranged for me to play with two lovely lady members, Aideen Stewart and Siobhan Kelly.
They had me lead the way off the 1st. I was happy with my drive as I watched it split the fairway. My driver worked very well today. In fact while I did have some rubbish shots mostly I was hitting the ball really well.
Not only is the course stunning, the company was wonderful. We are all relatively new golfers and between us we all had moments of greatness.
Strandhill is a great test of golf and is one of my favourite links courses I have played in Ireland.
It is the first course I have played this trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland that has the markers in metres. As I have been playing golf in yards for most of my golfing career (nearly 3 years of it) I had to convert everything to yards as that is how I measure my club distance.
A links course always seems a lot longer than it is because of the run and I love watching even my rubbish shots roll on down the fairway. That said not all of my rubbish was on the fairway.
On the 13th I hit a fantastic drive and was down around the corner and as I lined up my 7 iron (which in my head was going centre of the green) I miss hit it into the rubbish on the side of a hill to the left. Once again in my mind I was centre of the green when I lined up my next shot which just happened to be blind over the hill. Instead I pushed it across the fairway to the top of the hill on the right.
As I marched up the hill, I stopped and looked around in wonder. I think the golf gods sent me there to photograph the view. It was stunning. I ran up the hill to see where the actual green was then I hit a perfect pitch over the hill finishing 6 feet from the pin.
How can you be unhappy when you pull off amazing golf shots?
Who am I kidding? I am happy on a course regardless.
There are some very tricky greens to negotiate and I was very happy with how I played. I may not have broken any records but I will return when I am back in Ireland next year and tee it up with Siobhan again.
The course has recently had quite a bit of bunker work done which were put into play yesterday. On some of the holes when I asked the ladies what I was dealing with over the blind hill shot they actually had no idea as this was the first time they had played the course with the new bunkers in play.
I had some wonderful time at the beach and some tragic shots particularly in the bunker on the 6th. Two great shots followed my a miss chip that rolled into the bunker left me about 20cms from the edge of the bunker wall.
I couldn’t quite get a shot so I tried leaning into it (like I had done at St Andrews last year) but I couldn’t quite manage it so instead I got in the sand and had one knee leaning against the bunker edge while I tried to get an angle. I whacked it into the wall and had a second shot that hit the top and rolled back, then third time lucky I popped it out perfectly as it rolled towards the pin.
My sand shots improved from here and I must say it was a lovely day for the beach. Stepping up to the 7th tee I stopped to take in the view as the waves rolled in.
Aideen pointed out the surf school and advised that she thinks there are Australian instructors – of course there are.
Aussies are everywhere.
The ladies were out in full force today as there was a society of ladies out playing in their Tuesday 10 hole tournament. I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with a few of them after my round as I enjoyed a delicious vegetable soup with Siobhan.
Siobhan was very interested in Fairways and had me give a few of the ladies an overview of what I am doing.
As Siobhan and I said our goodbyes with promises of teeing it up again next year, I grabbed a cup of tea and headed into the pro shop for a golf chat with Gerry.
We talked all things junior golf.
Strandhill is hosting a junior tournament next week and the representatives from Strandhill are a lot less than it has been in the past.
We talked about different strategies to increase golf participation and chatted about the juniors Fairways have in four countries. I showed him videos of young Elias in Bolivia and we discussed Fairways’ fundraising strategies.
Then Colm Brennan joined us and we had a lot more laughs as we continued our chat.
I headed off mid afternoon as I had to drive back to Enniskillen.
When I drove along the Sligo road on the way out of town I marvelled aloud to myself in as I spotted Benbulbin mountain. Sometimes referred to as Yates Country, as he was buried in the shadow of the mountain.
This was my first visit to Sligo County and I am already looking forward to returning again next year.