Thursday, May 29, 2008

On your bike at Castleisland

It’s funny how things come around. At Killarney I bumped into a Ladies team from Monkstown, having met another of their teams a week before at Skibbereen.

After leaving Killarney, I parked overnight at Castleisland and played very early in the morning. I was putting my kit away afterwards when I heard a motorbike pull in. It reminded me to write down that I’d met a German couple, travelling around Kerry by motorbike, playing a bit of golf along the way. I’d first met Franz and Christine at the Ring of Kerry golf club on Tuesday (May 20), first at the 11th tee box, and then afterwards as they were preparing to leave for Killarney. They were playing three courses as part of one of those Passport special offers, and they were hiring clubs as they went – I don’t imagine that golf clubs and a motorbike make happy companions. [Photo: Drive over the gorge on 7 – trust me, it looks more terrifying when you’re standing there]

Turns out that the motorbike at Castleisland was carrying Franz and Christine! We had a chat and they said they were definitely coming back to Ireland to play golf, but without the motorbike. Where, they asked, was the best place to play golf? Always a tough question, but I felt they’d got it right first time by coming to Kerry.

After they’d hired their clubs I had a peak to see what the golf club had given them. They weren’t names I recognised but they were full sets with woods and wedges. I played at Mulranny a couple of years ago, hired clubs for a tenner and discovered on the 1st tee that I had a driver, a putter, a five iron and five wedges. It was an interesting and creative game!

I also checked how many golf balls they had. After hearing that their handicaps were in the mid-20s I handed over six extra golf balls to help them on their way. Castleisland has some dull, open holes to start, but from the 9th on it gets very dangerous with some seriously wild rough that will not give your ball back. On holes 7 and 18 you have to drive over a gorge (is 80 yards wide and 20 feet deep a gorge?) that is crammed with trees and it is impenetrable. Wait till you walk over the bridges.

At some stage I plan to produce a ‘best of’ list. And Eilis’s cheesecake will be up there. When I arrived in the evening I ordered a pint. And there, right in front of me, was a plate of cheesecake. As my wife likes to say: it was calling to me. Evidently both varieties were calling too, because Eilis gave me a slice of plain and a slice of chocolate. The apple pie was calling too, but I resisted.

[Photo: The downhill par three 9th]

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