The heavens had opened when I left Loughrea and they stayed open for some time. Ballinasloe had that golden sheen that comes when sun spills across a rain-drenched landscape.
I caught up with two lads, Enda and Munce, on the 5th hole (see pic) and Munce was clearly fighting off the effects of a late night session. No part of his body wanted to be involved in the swing process, but he struggled on. He said he shouldn’t have started drinking, and I said maybe he shouldn’t have stopped. Certainly one of the best rounds of golf I ever played was after a couple of jars at a pub in Deans Grange which was showing the Lions tour in Australia. Then straight onto the tee. Highly recommended.
To get from hole 7 to hole 8 you have to cross a small track, and they have those funny metal railings that just allow you to slip through and still pull your trolley behind you. Now perhaps Ballinasloe has no members of the larger persuasion, but I found it quite a squeeze to get through and I don’t regard myself as exactly ‘big’. I recalled an American I met at Lahinch who was extremely rotund (well over 20 stone) and he would never have fit through here. I didn’t look to see if there was another way to get to the 8th tee, but if there wasn’t it would certainly curtail your round. And that would be a shame, as the lower holes (8 to 14) are on a bog. Taking a divot and seeing earth that is almost black adds to the experience. And behind the 11th green they’ve been cutting peat. It is piled high and looks like an excavation site. Maybe they’re waiting for David Bellamy.
In the clubhouse I heard two old fellas discussing the US Open play-off.
“Tiger Woods against yer man.”
“I don’t know. Yer man.”
“Yea, but who was it?”
“I told you, I don’t know. But it wasn’t Tiger. Yer man.”
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