Northern Irish Chronicles: A Father-Son Trip to the Emerald Isle, Part 4
My dad and I are in the middle of a Northern Ireland golf adventure.
If you missed part three, you can read it here.
Round 4, Sunday, Royal County Down
Owners of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 video game may be familiar with Royal County Down, where the course made its virtual debut.
I actually went and bought the game, figuring it would give me a competitive edge against my dad if I had time to study the layout before we came.
What the game does not warn you about is the insane winds that roar off the Irish Sea and across the course.
During each day of this trip, we were warned by people we met about the deadly difficulty of the next course that laid ahead.
For the most part, we found them mistaken. Both of us actually played better with each round.
That is, until Sunday.
County Down is, to state it lightly, a pain in the rear.
Put it this way, the course record of 66 was set by an Irish golfer by the name of Jimmy Bruen in 1939. Despite the advent of modern technology and the many attempts by professional golfers, no one has matched a five under par on this course.
While we did our best to get around today, we did not get a single hole with the wind to either our backs or fronts. Each hole runs either east or west, while the wind blows constantly and powerfully from the south off the water.
Wind aside, the course is a majestic sight, something the boys at Electronic Arts could never do justice to.
Old Tom Morris, the famous designer of St Andrews, had a hand in the design of the back nine way back in 1889. He was paid the egregious sum of £4 for his work. Maybe he felt underpaid and wanted to stick it to everyone by making the course frighteningly hard.
Walking around, I had visions of old Tommy doing Mr. Burns' "Excellent" while picturing future golfers flailing away in the gorse.
Not to say the course was utterly unplayable.
It is the definition of a target course, and if you can hit your spots, you can score quite well. There are some amazing blind tee shots, like the 11th, which has you teeing up 100 yards from a wall of gorse that you have to hit over with no idea of what is on the other side.
One thing I have not yet mentioned is the people in the towns we have visited.
We have been through Holywood and Portstewart, stayed a few nights in Portrush, walked the streets of Ardglass and are now staying in Newcastle.
The towns are picturesque, the people friendly and the views magnificent. There is also a shade of green here unlike anything you have seen in your life.
I guess it is no surprise the Irish chose it as their official color.
Everyone here has greeted us with a smile, something we are always more than happy to return. Even the larger city of Belfast, where we flew into last week and will by flying out of, is straight out of a British magazine promoting row houses.
At the end of the day, the Irish are everything Lucky Charms cereal promised me they would be.
Only complaint, I never heard anyone say “Diddly dee potatoes!”
Oh well, there is always next time.
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