Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good to be back

After a two week enforced lay-off for more camper van repairs I finally headed to Northern Ireland today – Sunday. In those two weeks I managed one round of golf at Charlesland, a course I hadn’t played in many years.

[Photo: par 4 10th at Charlesland]

The last time I played a swan and several cygnets had wandered calmly across the 10th hole. They weren’t in sight on Friday, but they are a focal point on a course that just seems to lack a little something. It has everything you’d expect from a parkland/seaside course but perhaps more definition on the opening holes would give them character. I’m no designer or landscape gardener so my suggestion of splashes of pampas grass between some fairways or behind greens might seem idiotic.

After all the rain it was a surprise to manage 18 holes without getting wet. But as you can see from the photos it was still dark. A lot is made of the 13th par three – 220 odd metres from the top of the hill down to the bottom. With wind in my face I barely reached with a driver. [Photo: par 3 13th at Charlesland]

It was my first round in almost two weeks so I was delighted to find pounding showers that practically pierce your skin.

Today saw me playing at Ballymascanlon and the start of three and a half weeks up in this neck of the woods. I wouldn’t even have known about the course had I not driven right past it on my way back from Greenore back in September. It’s short, colourful and fun. Trees rise up beautifully around the hotel and the pic below is the view from the 1st tee back towards the hotel/clubhouse.

For what is undoubtedly supposed to be friendly hotel golf (par 68) there are some tough but very pretty holes that need serious thought off the tee. On 7, the approach to the green is lethal with water across the front (x 2) and a horrible bunker behind the green (where I found myself) which offers no way of stopping the ball from rolling off the green. On 10 you are faced with one of the narrowest fairways around and on 12, I put my second shot into the wide stream immediately to the right of the green. Never saw it again, but did find three replacements after some fishing.

As part of a hotel (the house dates back to the 9th century although so many new additions have been added that the old part is swamped) this is a great golfing opportunity with Dundalk and Greenore Golf Clubs so close by. I imagine with such a variety of challenges, fun and challenges – not to mention the Proleek Portal Tomb, a megalithic dolmen behind the 5th green – this is society heaven. [Photo: view back from par 4 8th at Ballymascanlan]

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