After three golf less days in the Irish Republic it was good to be back on the challenging fairways of the Royal County Down (PBUI). Me, my partner and about 150 visitors from a golfing society in County Kerry. Or they could have been transatlantic visitors-fly in to Shannon Airport, golf Sunday in the West, Monday Newcastle, Tuesday, Portrush, Wednesday: Ballybunnion, Thursday: Killarney, Friday: Portmarnock, Saturday Shannon Airport. A bargain at US$1000. Flights extra.
I don't know how much the RCD charges these golfing tourists for the Championship course. I suspect it works out about £75 a round. This is good value compared to the £125 or so taken off you as a normal visitor if you dare contemplate playing at a weekend. Indeed to play at the weekend is hard given that Saturdays are members only and up to 12 noon on Sunday. Wednesdays is also a no no. You can always play on the number two, Annesley Course, but flying 4,000 miles to Newcastle, to be put at the mercy of horders of bedouin distaff golfers, a hail of grassy divots, ambuscade by misdirected golf blls-or should that be Ms. Directed-not what the average punter will put up with having parted with specie and having come a long way.
And now Monday is officially no play on the No One course to allow the greenkeepers unimpeded access to the links in preparation for the Walker Cup. But they could hardly turn away these guys (no women) who had come so far. So my partner and I snuck on playing the second nine whilst the Yanks went off at the first.
The problem with that ploy was that all the heavy machinery was concentrated on holes 10 to 18. And the greenkeepers were impatient at being interrupted by mere golfers. For my second shot at the 17th I was faced with three light mowers on the green, two heavy mowers on the fairway immediately in front of the green and the bunkers all around were filled with young fit men raking the sand.Behind the green was a further device-perhaps for taking stones out of horses' hooves, or perhaps not. When they saw us approaching the work force very reluctantly stopped work but the machines remained where they were. Quite unnerving as about 20 pairs of eyes watched are every move-a well honed sense of self preservation at work. My partner did not bother them as he was far, wide and handsome (THe Alsatian will find it one day I am sure) As for me-my shot was kept out of the left hand bunker by a carelessly placed rake, shot across the green richocheting off a light mower en route-hit the further device at the back, bounced back onto the green and ended up two and a half feet from the hole.If the massed ranks of green keepers were impressed they concealed their emotions.
Enjoying the rapt attention of the audience I missed the putt.
Bagatelle is really my game,