19th Hole

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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Ireland I’m coming Home – Part I

Garth Brooks did say it best in his song to Ireland. The coasts are green and the fences made of stone. What he failed to tell us was that the rolling fields of green are also quite cool (weather wise) and those fences made of stone are set on most of the roadways.

My bride and I took this Irish journey and she was the main driving force behind our trip. She gave me this surprise as a gift and during the July of 14, we had the adventure of a lifetime. Ireland is beautiful but terrifying at the same time. For some reason I was the only one who registered to drive our vehicle; the first one was “economy van” which means something a little larger than a VW beetle. I upgraded to the full size and eliminated the stick shift; knowing I could not handle shifting with my left hand while handling the gas and brakes at the same time. 

For the first 4 days not much notice of the countryside was taken on my part as we drove through, it’ hard to see the view when you have a death grip on the steering wheel. All the country roads (well 90% of them) have some type of barrier inches outside the edge of the road, which are green and quite inviting until I noticed that green was moss growing over rock fences. With no bail out areas, Irish roads are the true definition of ‘stay on course’. People there actually drive quite briskly and do not fear the walls. They are all in small vehicles and not fearful of the width of the road. I, on the other hand, felt like a blood clot headed for the heart, which surely would stop the blood flow of life and kill the host. I know why the dark beer served in very large glasses is a staple and a required drink after a drive. 

We went to play golf and all else was worth the first experience. Our first round was Royal Port Rush and we had two “buggies” which were motorized golf carts. Without clubs and balls, as the airlines sent ours to Germany and Sweden (and I did not get frequent flyer miles for this), the staff was friendly. “How much for the rentals”, I asked. 40 for the rental per set and balls are 65 a dozen. Wow, not bad. I would gladly pay, so I handed my credit card to the pro and paid for the rentals.  Yes, I am a rookie and yes, these were in Euros. The pro said after we were done just leave the rentals in the room downstairs and the buggies outside and give the keys to the bartender. My puzzled look was answered by, “We close at 4 and the bar stays open”. Off we went and the first tee was everything I would ever want, giant sand dunes, a breeze blowing off the ocean and a sliver of green wandering through the dunes. My first shot was like a laser…left side slight fade into the heart of the fairway.  

I once made the rookie mistake of asking for a shot to sit and my caddie scolded me with “keep yer lips off the ball!” which loosely meant what is wrong with you are you happy having to chip from areas intended for double bogeys?

Oh by the way, if you play Ireland and your ball goes to what appears to be benign green rough please get the machetes that are for sale. Rough is thick and the heather is something more like mesquite bushes with the leaves liken to that of an ice plant, with the consistency of lettuce. I know that God must have a sense of humor watching us try to play a shot from this rough.

To be continued in the April issue.