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Northern Irish Chronicles: A Father-Son Trip to the Emerald Isle, Part 3

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Northern Irish Chronicles: A Father-Son Trip to the Emerald Isle, Part 3
The 11th Hole at Ardglass Golf Club, Dan Rudakoff

My dad and I are in the middle of a Northern Ireland golf adventure.

If you missed part two, you can read it here.

Round 3, Saturday, Ardglass Golf Club

Thursday’s round led us south of Belfast to the Ardglass Golf Club, the home of what may well be the longest construction project in history.

The clubhouse was started in the 13th century as Ardglass Castle and, although it has been modified to suit the needs of a golf course, the club insists the building is not yet finished.

Actually, Ardglass, which sits on the southeastern coast of Northern Ireland, is home to several castles—far more, in fact, than you would think a small fishing town would need.

During a 30-minute pre-round stroll through town, we counted five buildings that were either castles or towers.

There was a castle being converted to a retirement home, a tower that your kids might build in the back yard and one on a hill that could see almost everything for miles around.

Two of 15th-century castles, the Ardglass castle and Jordan’s Castle, were within shouting distance of each other.

It was not unlike kids building forts, playing war with each other. But it does no good if the forts are built too far apart, preventing the kids from spying on each other, so they are built ridiculously close together, defying all laws of secrecy and practicality.

What is left of the tower of Jordan's Castle, built in the 15th century

Right. Enough on castles.

Well...one more mention: the first tee at Ardglass is beyond a doubt the coolest first tee I have ever seen.

Picture this. You are hitting off the battlements of a castle, with the wall right behind you, a chasm between you and the fairway, with cannons to your right. A myriad of rather pointy rocks and the frigid Irish Sea are off to your left.

The Club at Ardglass is, in a way, the Pebble Beach of the United Kingdom. OK, I have never played Pebble Beach except for video games, but Ardglass set the bar pretty high.

Every hole literally comes with a view of the sea, and several holes are right on the water, including the stunning 11th hole, a par 5 that skirts between a bushy cliff wall on the left and the sea on the right.

We also had a brand new experience that I do not recommend for your own course design.

On both the 13th and 16th holes, the green from the previous hole sits right between the tee box and fairway.

Thankfully for the guys playing behind us, we did not get the experience of hitting over their heads while they tried to putt.

We did question whether or not the safety commission had visited recently, but after driving on the one-and-a-half lane, tree-lined roads that criss-cross the Irish countryside, I am not entirely convinced there really is a safety commission in the first place.

Apparently, stuff like that was just fine in the 1890s when the course opened. I am not sure it would fly in 2012.

The 18th hole was also a spectacle, with an elevated tee and the fairway running down the hill and right back towards the castle…err clubhouse...whatever.

Once they finish it, I can figure out what to call it.

One round left on Sunday, so check back.

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