Day 259‚?¶ 106 to go and this was a day where it felt like the countdown was on.
We need to put this day in context of the night before - a night out with Mr Sweeney (aka Chief champ boss captain skipper). ¬†My body did not approve of such shenanigans and threw a biological wobbly on me at around 11pm resulting in an early nights sleep.¬† Gutted and not the opportune time to fall ill with Gret across.¬† Didn‚??t stop her and Jamie from showing more fortitude and making the most of the Kilkenny nightlife.
So the car ride from Kilkenny to Druids Glen was always going to be a tough one.¬†¬† JP and Gretta, goblins in the front in the kind of mood where crazy schemes such as playing golf every day are dreamed up, and me in the back seat, in a womb of luggage and feeling queasy.¬†¬† We got rolling around and around the streets of Kilkenny trying to find a way to escape this city (smallest city in Europe in fact as it is where the parliament of Ireland used to sit) only to look towards the dash and a complete lack of petrol in the car. ¬†After a few kilometers we made it to the motorway not a petrol station in sight and wondering whether we were going to keep rolling.¬† After 10 minutes of all of us holding our breath we exited off the motorway and winded our way through a couple of small country towns.¬† The first had a petrol station that had been closed down and replaced by a second hand car yard‚?¶ Just our luck.¬† The second station looked promising and the gas was even being sold at a good price so we took a collective sigh of relief and pulled in.¬† Only for the power to be out and all petrol sales had been ceased for the foreseeable future.¬† Only in Ireland.¬† We hit the road again, rolling the 8km or so down the road to the next station almost waiting for the Tank to die.¬† But the excitement of this episode ends there as we made it, filled the car up and went on our way.
A phone call to our destination at Druids Glen followed alerting them to our issues.¬† They said not to worry and the pro said we should have an Estimated Time of Arrival of T + 70 minutes.¬†¬† Some 80 minutes later we pulled into Wicklow, stomach churning with a mixture of hunger and the remnants of whatever had poisoned my system the night before.¬† At this stage we turned right, weaved through the village amidst delays by heavy congestion in the wee township.¬† After ten minutes or so I looked out and saw a road sign directing us to various golf courses in the area.¬† No road sign mentioned Druids Glen.¬†¬† The maps were rechecked and the car was swiftly redirected some 180 degrees back traveling north, weaving through the village again amidst delays by heavy congestion in the wee township.¬† Over 3 hours after our initial departure at Kilkenny we pulled into Druids Glen approximately one hour late for our tee time (amidst a busy tee sheet). ¬†¬†Our 110pm slot became 220pm and like that we were off. ¬†The worst travel debacle of the year.
At Druids Glen we were joined by Kevin Markham who has an interesting story.¬† Kevin pinned his ears back and played every single golf course in Ireland (bar one miserable farmyard course which told him to sod off) over 2008 and 2009, traveling the country in a campervan and writing a review of each course after he played it.¬† He writes a golf blog (that has a recount of our day on it) that has morphed recently into a golf book called Hooked on Golf.¬† Over the last few days I‚??ve been flicking through Hooked on Golf reading a few of Kevin‚??s reviews.¬† After ‚??only‚?? playing 27 courses in Ireland we‚??ve experienced just a small snippet of Irish golf but when I‚??m back for more golf over here in the Emerald Isle it‚??ll be a great point of reference.¬† If you‚??re traveling to Ireland to play golf and want to get off the beaten track it‚??s a must read! ¬†Kevin is in the business of ranking golf courses which is a difficult task to undertake. He uses a formula to give each course a number out of 100.¬† The top ranked course in his book in Ireland is Rosses Point at Sligo coming in with 95 points.¬† Whilst we at puregolf2010 are not here to rank or rate golf courses on a daily basis ‚?? just enjoy the craic and share our experiences, Kevin has goaded me on his blog to share my thoughts on Mt Juliet & Druids Glen.¬† Despite my fatigue, poor golf and completely exhausted state, I thought Druids Glen was a good notch or two up the league tables.¬† Asides from getting a warm welcome and being very accommodating (Side note: Druids Glen had a full tee sheet and still let us play ‚?? Mt Juliet‚??s ‚??sorry we have a full tee sheet‚?? was more of a euphemism for an empty car park with a sign saying no kiwis allowed) the golf course was quality. ¬†The greens were pure and the design varied. ¬†The conditioning made the greens a real test as subtle slopes made getting the ball within ‚??gimme‚?? range very difficult.¬† There were a mixture of holes from short par fours to the tough as nails par four 13th which I made a complete meal of going in the water right, then bushes left only to take a triple bogey ‚?? as Kevin has descried on his blog! ¬†The poor form on the golf course in Ireland continues.¬† This fine day, on this fine golf course ¬†I could barely muster the strength to swing the club.¬† Out in plenty a long day was in store but a couple of snickers bars and some water at half way and the wheels stayed on.¬† Just.¬† Gretta retired to the clubhouse after 9 after watching enough of the struggle..
[tee shot on the par four 13th]
[second shot on the 13th]
[looking back down the 13th. Glad to be finished with this beast of a hole]
Kevin was very good company and we could have talked golf for hours and hours.¬† I asked him the question we are continually being asked ‚?? what do you do once you‚??ve finished such an undertaking? All the courses in Wales perhaps?¬† It was also very interesting to hear how his book moved through the phases to become published.¬† Jamie and I are planning a book to come out early next year but we are still very much open to suggestions about how we progress this.¬†¬† Kevin (pictured amongst us mugs below) is not only a good chap but he plays a fine game as well off around a 6 so he sees a golf course from a varied perspective.¬† A golf course is not just for pro‚??s ‚?? it must be playable for golfers of all levels and so I think it‚??s a good starting point to go and rank courses.
Anyway we got around Druids Glen, enjoyed it, and then hit the road to Carton House where we‚??d all been kindly put up in this luxury pad.¬† Back in the good books with Gretta after she had a fairly ordinary couple of hours in the clubhouse.¬† Details of Carton House to follow tomorrow ‚?? stay tuned! ¬†[Some pictures of the beauty that is Druids Glen are below]
[the par three 2nd hole. ¬†See the old stone wall behind the green - features of the old estate like this remain around the course]
[the par three 6th hole across the pond]
a swing bridge - a perfect tonic for the queasy stomach
[the downhill signature par three 12th]
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