Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pebble Beach of the West - Kilkee & Kilrush

A group of Swedes had just finished playing Shannon and they were asked where they were going next. Kilkee, came the reply. And when asked why, the group leader brightened and said, “Pebble Beach of the West”. An Internet site they had been using to book their trip described the course as such. Now, the cliff top views are impressive, and they certainly make this pleasant seaside course worth a visit, but ‘Pebble Beach’ is pushing it a bit. I wonder what the Swedes thought at the end of that particular round. [Photo: 'Pebble Beach' view]

When I first arrived in the afternoon I introduced myself to Jim, the Manager. In one of the more cryptic conversations I’ve had for a while, he apologised and said he thought I was someone else. Who? I asked. “I’d rather not say,” came his reply. Very mysterious. [Photo: views behind the 3rd tee at Kilkee]

I played on my own for a while, and encountered three very elderly gentlemen on the 9th. I was walking to the 10th tee when they headed across from the 1st green to one of the later holes. Within two holes I had caught them up. Once they saw me they waved me through and pleasantries were exchanged. Then on 16, I encountered them again. Clearly they have their own special route around the golf course. On 17 I was joined by three Limerick lads who cut across for a quick finish. Ned, Seamus (aka Sammy) and Tony then invited me down to Scott’s (a famous watering hole in Kilkee town) for a drink. Sammy, who runs a bar in Brooklyn, was home for a few days, catching up with friends. You can take the boy out of Ireland… A drink became two and it was threatening to become a session, when they decided to do the sensible thing and go home. Shame really, we were talking rugby and the 2009 Munster vs. the All Blacks game was mentioned. I was hoping to find a way to wangle some tickets. Ned was at the match when Munster famously beat the All Blacks in 1978. No really, he was. ‘Along with the other 150,000,’ he joked. He had a brilliant marketing strategy, which was to allow everyone who still had the original 1978 ticket stub free entry to the 2009 game. As someone with a marketing background I thought that was a superb PR exercise.

My morning round had been at Kilrush, just to the south, where I hooked up with Ronan, who I had last played with at Bantry Bay. He is a member at Kilrush and I moved my schedule around a bit so I could play on the Monday. He had planned to play twice that day as he had brand new clubs, but after 9 holes the new grips were rubbing his right palm raw. It was useful playing with a local as he was able to give me good lines on blind holes. Unfortunately he also pointed out the very heavy rough that was growing in special fenced off areas for young trees. I say unfortunate, because every time he pointed one out, I hit my drive into it. [Photo: Ronan plays his approach to 11th green, Index 1]

Ronan treated me to a good lunch – many thanks for that – before we parted company and I headed for Kilkee. But, rather ironically perhaps, the clubhouse is also home to a Driving School – the vehicular kind, so don’t be surprised to see some erratic driving in the car park!

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