Starting Monday, G4G is going overseas — to the western coast of Ireland for a lot of golf and a fair bit of driving. In the company of two golf architects, I’ll be traveling to see 9 courses in a week’s time.
Our trip starts Tuesday after landing at Dooks, a course that has been overhauled by Martin Hawtree in recent years. Got to love a course where the logo contains a toad. A hat with that logo is surely coming home with me.
From there we head to Waterville and then on to Ballybunion, where we overnight, playing the Old and New Courses. The trip then turns north and takes in three lesser-known tracks — Carne, Enniscrone and Co. Sligo — before heading south to finish at Lahinch (hopefully twice) and Doonbeg. Then a flight home, by which time I’m sure I’ll be worn out.
I’ll be writing about our travels each day, as I did last year when I was in Wales.
I must admit this is a trip that gets my pulse racing. Heading to Ireland or the U.K. has become almost an annual ritual in recent years — this is my sixth trip across since 2003. The lure is links golf. I’ve had people ask what it is about links golf that is so interesting to me. It is sometimes hard to explain, but I know it as soon as I see the lumpy dunes and smell the sea air. God I long to see a caravan park — the U.K. equivalent of a trailer park mixed with a cottage — as they are almost always found alongside seaside links. The ability to play on firm turf, tackle blind holes, find wild green sites and sometimes be treated damned unfairly by the course — that’s all part of playing on the links.
For this trip I really wanted to go away from the usual suspects a bit — which is why Enniscrone, Carne and Sligo are part of the week. Sure it is a few hours out of the way — but it isn’t a place everyone travels to. I wouldn’t call them hidden gems — they are in every golf book — but they aren’t Top 100 courses that all travelers head to. Kind of like playing Crail when in Scotland, I suppose.
Anyway, I’ll report back Tuesday through the following Tuesday. Of course, being the busy season, I’m taking a bunch of work with me, including the final pages of the Canadian PGA’s Centennial magazine that I’m editing. Nothing wrong with some work on the road — that’s why there are three drivers.