Golf writer & photographer. Author of ‘Hooked’, the most comprehensive guide to Ireland's golf courses, and ‘Driving the Green’. Published by Collins Press. Editor for Destination Golf Ireland, feature writer for Irish Golfer Magazine freelancer for Irish Examiner. Golf is in the blood. http://www.kevinmarkhamphotography.com
Thursday, April 3, 2008
King of the Castle
King of the Castle
I thought all my Christmases had come at once when I arrived at Castle’s 10th tee to find an RTE TV crew waiting for me. Clearly, word about my book was spreading, but even I didn’t dare dream of appearing on TV. Such coverage would be great for raising my profile, as well as future book sales. I wondered if it was for the Late Late Show or Nationwide. In one fell swoop I would be qualified to become a judge on You’re a Star, sing alongside Dustin or appear on that stunning Irish show: Celebrities Go Wild.
I was informed, quite brutally actually, that the crew was filming Castle Golf Club member Paddy Cole, a renowned jazz musician from the 60s, 70s and 80s, about whom RTE were making a life documentary. Shame really. Just for a second I was up with the greats.
Castle was a genuine surprise for me. Having been born and raised in Dublin I had never heard of the course, even though it is a stone’s throw from Milltown, a course I know well. So when I arrived at 7.30 in the morning I was immediately impressed by what I saw: a pretty, heavily-conifered, rolling course.
I was met at the door by Billy, the Facilities Manager, who welcomed me and informed me that I was going out as a fourball with him, Paul, the Head Greenkeeper, and Dave, a friend of Paul’s from Stackstown. Once we were all on the tee it was simply a question of how much money was involved. We agreed on €1, €1 and €1. I was teamed with Billy, 15, against Paul, 7, and Dave, 19. A fairly equal match that see-sawed perfectly over the opening holes. I was very impressed by the course, particularly as I wasn’t expecting such great contours, but obviously my main focus was on the money. At least that was my excuse for a triple bogey at the 2nd.
I had a two on the par three 7th, but it was only good enough for a half. It was evident by that point that Billy wasn’t used to losing money and we headed to 10th, 1 up. Here we met the RTE crew and we watched with amusement as Paddy and two friends walked onto the tee box, with Paddy hitting to the par three. Then we watched as he did it again, and again until the folks at RTE were happy. By this stage there were four of his shots on the green, 190 yards away. Not bad at all for a man of his years. And I kept one of the balls as a little memento, despite Billy wanting to return them all to the great man.
The back 9 was as competitive as the front and for the purposes of my book I had to remind myself to pay attention to what was going on around me. When you play for money, in a close match, the holes tend to fly by. But Castle has good character and charm, and all of the holes can boast plenty of interest. 16 and 17 are back-to-back par fives, while the 18th (pictured) will wreck many scorecards with its demands for a laser sharp drive between the trees. Our match went all the way to the green.
There’s nothing here that disappoints, and taking all €3 was a big help too. Thank you, Billy. I was also treated to lunch, for which I was very grateful, before heading on to Stackstown for my second round of the day.
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