Legends of the links (part 1)

23 05 2010

O.K., lets be perfectly clear about one thing. When I use the expression ‘legends’ in relation to the golfing exploits of Glenny, Robin, Adrian or myself thus far on the trip I am using the word in the sense of ‘legends in our own minds’. To be honest, our golf to this point has not been stellar. The courses –  Lahinch and Doonbeg – have been fantastic; the weather – wonderful. Ireland is in the grip of a heatwave right now and Robin has the sunburn to prove it. Our play, however,  has not really come up to scratch – in fact, if anybody asked me what my handicap is right now my answer would be that I’m an 11 at Glacier Greens and about a 21 on a links course. Blind tee shots to tiny fairways, par 3 holes where you can’t even see the green from the tee (#6 at Lahinch), tricky sidehill lies everywhere and massive greens (#12 at Doonbeg even has a bunker in the middle of it!). There’s golf and then there’s links golf…

With the honourable exception of Robin, no one has yet broken 90 – and this in conditions that are so benign that the starter today said “Gentlemen, da course is at your mercy. Do with her what you will”. After three holes  I was seven over par (yup, seven) and trying to find a pot bunker to bury myself in. Obviously I have excuses. In hindsight, the consumption of six Guinness last night followed by an extremely generous measure of  Balvinie whiskey may not have been ideal preparation. Possibly, too, the choice of the full Irish breakfast (black pudding included) on both mornings may have been a tad unwise. In the end, though, my inability to steer the little white thing  over the mounds of marram grass and onto a safe haven has to be my responsibility and mine alone. (By the way, the course marshall told us today that the marram is known locally as ‘love grass’ – once you’re in it, you’re f*cked…)

Not that there hasn’t been the occasional moment of success: Robin has had a birdie in each round so far, Glenny finished with a sixty foot par saving putt on #18 at Doonbeg today and I myself made a birdie on #14, the par three signature hole perched on the dunes a hundred feet above  the Atlantic Ocean. The Chief has not been at his best to this point but, hopefully, better days are yet to come. Although he did finish with an eye catching 300 yard drive at Doonbeg today, the rest of us appreciated it more for the fact that for once it finished on the fairway and not some distant spot in the love grass. He’s my partner tomorrow, so I’m hoping that this a harbinger of good things. Less impressive, though, were Adrian’s efforts to extricate himself from a cunningly placed pot bunker on #2 today: five attempts with his sand wedge failed to do the trick and he only stopped flailing away when we agreed to give him a berger double. I’d only just finished laughing at his misfortune when I sliced my approach shot on the very next hole and hit a picturesque whitewashed cottage. I mean, really, what were they thinking building it right alongside the golf course? (Actually the cottage looked about 500 years old and the course was opened in 2002). Robin’s ball finished up alongside the dry stone boundary wall and his attempt to play a carom onto the green was spectacularly unsuccessful. Glenny, in the meantime, was waiting patiently to hit a fifteen foot birdie putt which he duly converted and then lectured the rest of us about our pace of play.

A quick word about the accommodation so far. Doonbeg was five star all the way. Glenny fit in as we knew he would – totally at ease, dispensing generous tips (on our behalf) wherever he went; Adrian, the seasoned traveller, was also very comfortable in a pretty luxurious environment and full of laughs and jokes along the way. The surprise package has been Robin – his Clem Kadiddlehopper persona is already changing and I fear that Sandy may not recognise the debonair figure he cut around the hotel. Now we’ve arrived at Ballybunion, a short drive and a twenty minute ferry ride across the Shannon estuary. This is more obviously a golf town. We have 36 holes to play tomorrow and Glen and I have decided to hire caddies, in an attempt to gain an advantage and cut into Robin’s lead in our nine round competition, the Celtic Challenge. I’ve decided upon an alcohol free evening – desperate measures, I know – but I’ll not be abandoning the full Irish breakfast just yet. Will the tactic work? I’ll keep you posted…

All da best.

Dave B.




6 responses

24 05 2010

Well Dave, your post was a welcome relief to a sleep interrupted night. I woke at 03.00 and couldn’t go back to the land of nod. After reading your post I laughed so hard that I knew it was game over entirely as far as sleep was concerned, but by then I couldn’t care less. I had all kinds of pictures in my mind of the four of you clambering up the sides of pot bunkers, sand flying over the tops, and language bad enough to turn the air blue! However, I could also imagine the howls of laughter in the clubhouse after over a Guinness, as you recalled each round, shot by shot, blow by blow. Pile on the black pud me boy and go to it! Thanks for taking the time to write this and the pleasure it gave me in reading it..

24 05 2010
Bagger Dave

Thank you, Martin. We are having an absolute blast, despite the fact that moments of glory on the golf course have been few and far between. Personally, I’m hoping that things improve on course in Scotland. Off course, they couldn’t be better!


24 05 2010
Glen Livet

I’m playing the courses with you all while luxuriating in the Comox Valley.
Sounds like you are having more fun than Cardiff did this weekend. I can only hope that Glenny and Robin come out on top, like the cream coming to the top of the milk. Just shows what a bagger Brooker is when reality hits. Got to be fair though Davey I will follow Glenny and Robins lead when you come home and give you strokes.
Many thanks for the update though, have a wonderful time and I look forward to hearing all the lies upon your return

24 05 2010
Bagger Dave

It depends on your definition of fun, Peter. I like the fact that I’ve picked some good partners so far, but am frustrated at my pitiful level of play. It makes me realise how hard the game must be for you…
Congrats on Blackpool gaining promotion! Next season could be tough but it will be quite the adventure…



24 05 2010

Great post, Bagger! Sounds like the trip is off to a fabulous start. Looking forward to more posts and some pics upon your return.

Best to the boys…


24 05 2010
Bagger Dave

Thanks Ben. You’ll hear more about our last day’s golf in the next blog. For the moment, it’s an early night because we’re off to the airport first thing tomorrow. I have taken a bunch of photos and I look forward to you showing me how to add them as links.

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