19th Hole

Tom Velarde
Manager
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ
tvelarde@blackmesagolfclub.com

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Ireland I’m Coming Home – Part II

Our first round was out of a book of wishes. I wanted to break 40 and did so easily, my bride dinked her way to a 42 on the front. Actually, she broke 90 at all courses except Royal County Down and Ballybunion was to her, a delight. I on the other hand lost count of score after the first day. I will offer one more thought on the rough. At Royal County Down, which surely should have been named Heaven for Golf, our playing companions lost 2 dozen balls through the first 8 holes. Mulligans are not an Irish accepted method of delaying a game. Actually, after some talk with caddies, the only acceptable form of slow play is death.

Score does not matter when you have faces smiling at you that are all weather worn and somewhat pasty in color. The Irish people are friendly and eager to share the country they love. They will also inform you on the proper way to drink the elixir they love, the Pint. This is a dark rich drink which, when properly poured, is allowed to sit for some time allowing the beer to be set proper. Guinness is the beer of choice, although if you want to get escorted out of a pub… order something else. 

Did I mention the food? We had heard that the food was bland and not something to write home about. Wrong! Breakfast in Ireland is a religion unto itself. Eggs over easy served with bacon (we normally call these cuts pork belly) ¼ inch slabs cooked med-rare. Blood sausage, which they call pudding for some reason, tomatoes cooked and mushrooms fried in butter heaven. I do not seem to recall toast as after the first bites you will lapse into a cholesterol coma, which is only delayed by the strong hot tea or rich coffee. My bride is a healthy one who eats yogurt, oatmeal and fruits. So for her breakfast was a trip into my world of eat and nap. We will gladly admit that the hearty breakfast was burned off early in the day. I firmly believe that if we narrowed our roads and put up retaining walls 4 inches from the doors you would burn a lot of calories just driving. 

I will give you in the next article the scoop on hotels and what to do, but can only offer this as a word on the first part of the trip: Ireland is green like Oregon, greens with most courses like Pebble Beach but on a budget like Kansas. I will click my heels twice now.  

We got to play Rosapenna, a jewel out on a point jutting into the Irish Sea and getting there took 4 hours. I thought I had adjusted to the roads but not after this trip. Seems that the road becomes one lane traveling above a small fiord with water crystal blue, I knew this meant the temperature was super cold. It must have stretched out for 7 miles with brilliant green framing this water. I took notice of this when this one lane road presented an oncoming delivery truck, which obviously had no brakes; the rental company could only sigh when I presented the insurance claim on the gouge marks on the rental.   

Rosapenna was heaven to say the least. An original Old Tom Morris design, it’s a stroll through the sand dunes that will challenge you to calculate carry and roll. The fairways are wisps, actually just hues of green among the sand dunes.  Giving way to greens that “fit” into the landscape? Rosapenna proved to be one delight after another with it providing enough of a challenge to be oh so interesting yet gentle enough to let us putt for birdies yet make us happy with par. Rossapenna  was the site of the Irish Junior where none other than Rory McIlroy played and won with a over score total. I took a picture of my little 74 scorecard next to Rory’s 77, but alas I have lost that data to the cloud. To defend Rory though even the local pro said the weather was “testy” for Rory.

You will find the hotel’s most comfortable and the staffs very friendly. My personal favorite was a bed and breakfast where we spent three nights. Our room overlooked a stream and upon my first inspection I could see my second favorite pastime, trout. The owner said I could fish as they had stream rights so I rented rod and reel and purchased flies and spent the next three afternoons fishing for Brown Trout in Ireland after the morning of golf and evening of great dinner and Guinness. I so wish I could tell you that I hooked and landed record sized fish but have to admit that just catching them was more than enough. I caught enough to give our host some dinner options. This unexpected surprise only added to the new love that Ireland was becoming. 

Once in a lifetime we are allowed to do something so grand it defies description. For me…it was not Ireland and golf, it was getting to share it with my bride. Golf you see is a game for us all, and it’s such a grand game that to enjoy it skill becomes secondary. 

We will return because Ireland, I’m coming home!