[Photo: Drive down 13]
I am forever being asked about hidden gems that I’ve played on my travels. I am not a fan of the term, especially as so many clubs claim that they are ‘hidden gems’, whether they are or not. It’s like ‘championship’ – see yesterday’s post. As Eddie, the owner at Newbridge golf club, pointed out: ‘who hides gems anyway?’ Between hidden gems and jewels in the crown, Ireland’s golf courses have a nice little sideline in precious stones, so I know where Eddie is coming from.
But any course that offers deep woods and lone, majestic oak and beech, is always going to stop me in my tracks. The addition of numerous deer wandering along fairways just adds to the occasion. Portumna ticks all the boxes – and another cliché sails overhead.
I so nearly had a hole in one on the 2nd hole. In fact, I can honestly say that if I’d teed off 10 minutes earlier, that hole in one would have been mine. My ball was about three inches directly behind the hole, and the line the ball had made in the dew went directly over the top of the hole. The only problem was, the hole had just been moved by the greenkeeper. I’d waited on the tee while he did it. I’ve been playing golf for 34 years and never had a hole in one. Looks like I’ll have to wait a bit longer.
As I played the 4th, I was intrigued by the piles of stones on the right of the green (see pic). Three round tiers, like a wedding cake. Maybe 25 feet wide at the base. There were a few of them around the place and I discovered subsequently that they were constructed when the Clanricarde Estate was still in existence – before it became the golf course. They were used by the ladies of the day, who climbed up on them to watch the horse races.
Michael Ryan was the source of this information. I asked him if he was the club’s manager when I walked into the clubhouse after my round. “As good as,” he replied. Michael doesn’t play golf. He’s more into the hurling and told me to watch out for an up and coming local star by the name of Joe Canning. 19 years old and he’s going to be big. Sometimes it’s a breath of fresh air to talk about something other than golf. Oh, and he knew my dad from the days he worked in Bank of Ireland. Small world.
[Photo: setting for 12th tee box]
In the changing rooms I bumped into some English lads who were over on a five day package trip: Portumna, Nenagh, East Clare and one other that none of them could remember. One of them asked me if my book reviews included the quality of the showers. ‘Sometimes,’ I said. If they’re very good or very bad they tend to make it in, because let’s be honest, when you come in from a long round of golf, a good shower can make all the difference. Greystones has excellent showers, Fota Island has showers that you’d stay in all day and Portumna’s are good too – if only they’d fix the leaks above the shower head. Some places you’d be afraid to walk into them, while at City of Derry I had an unenlightening experience – there are no windows in the shower room, and it operates on a motion switch… I was the only person in the showers and in the middle of washing my hair when the lights went out. Complete darkness, and it wasn’t a motion sensor that worked near the showers, only by the door. Good showers though.
I see your comment: Some places you’d be afraid to walk into them, while at City of Derry I had an unenlightening experience – there are no windows in the shower room, and it operates on a motion switch… I was the only person in the showers and in the middle of washing my hair when the lights went out. Complete darkness, and it wasn’t a motion sensor that worked near the showers, only by the door. Good showers though.ReplyDelete
But tell me.. have you played the course?
Certainly - a nice course, too, although it doesn't make many people's radar. Why do you ask?Delete