Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Contrasts at Cork

“So what do you think of Fota Island?”
“Grand,” Aidan replied.
“Grand? Is that it?”
“Well, it’s a bit easy.”

Such precociousness from one so young. Aidan is 16… 17 next week he informed me hastily. Funny how the young can’t wait to get older, while the rest of us pine to be that age again. Maybe it’s the lack of hair.

But his point is well made. We were standing on the 17th tee at Cork, and having played some of the most stunning and decidedly difficult holes that I’d encountered for some time, I knew what he was getting at. Fota Island is beautiful and luxurious, but it can play easy, it will let you away with mistakes and it eggs you on. Cork on the other hand, can destroy you on any number of holes (4 to 9 most notably), but you’ll be thrilled whatever way it turns out. [Photo: view back over the quarry to the 8th tee box]

I hooked up with Aidan on 16 when he caught up with me. The round was almost 4 hours long - an eternity for me – as I was stuck behind a long queue of three and fourballs, and it made sense to play together. He plays off 11 and wellies the ball when he can, yet has a delicate touch around the green. Flings his bag around his shoulders like it's a feather.

Looks like I’ll be putting in a word for him at the Old Head, where he’d like to be a caddy for the summer. You can certainly make money down there, and Americans tip generously I believe. I was telling him the tales I’d heard when Michael, a Yank, caddied for me back in October. He’s unlikely to be caddying for anyone lower than his own handicap, that’s for sure.

Not only is it a brilliant (if variable) course, there are a couple of entertaining moments along the way: on 4 you drive over a beach, and the flotsam and jetsam is always amusing to pick out: a beer keg and a tyre on this occasion; on 5 you actually drive over an old kiln (see pics - the drive is at the small white dot you can see behind the kiln. The green is far right, out bon the little peninsula), while on 11, a lone chestnut tree on the left is worth a little detour (see pic). You have to confess, these sorts of things really add a different dimension to a round of golf. And then there’s the whole lime quarry thing going on. You won’t find many courses with that, will you!

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