Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Malone – bigger please

When you arrive at a golf club in a 1989 camper, and try to squeeze between a Porsche and a Jag, you start to feel slightly nervous. Especially with my reversing record. It was a Saturday afternoon and the place was jammed with big flash cars. The clubhouse is elegant, opulent and refined, so you know you’re somewhere posh.

The purpose of my book is to outline the golfing experience. More often than not, that does not include the clubhouse – either because it’s a straightforward affair, or the place is empty and quiet (during winter months for example) – but at some courses the clubhouse and the atmosphere is very much a part of the experience: Fota Island is amazing; Ballybunion is enormous; Luttrellstown is remarkable; and Malone falls into that category where you feel you have to be on your best behaviour.

I was warned long ago that Malone was terribly stuck-up and that visitors were treated with barely a glance. And yes, I did encounter this to a degree, but it’s a matter of not letting it bother you. After all, you’re not coming here to worry about what Malone thinks of you – you’re coming here to play a superior parkland golf course. If the club has a stuffy, jacket and tie approach to things then let them keep it. What does it matter to you? At best you can laugh at them; at worst you can resent them. And life’s too short.

Malone has so much going for it. The big, big course, the beautiful lake that greets you on arrival, the clubhouse, the cars you can ogle at… but I do have one huge complaint, and it’s an important one: if you’re going to provide towels for the showers, please, please don’t make them so small that you can’t get them around your waist. I’m not that big, honest, but I have a complex now. I needed two to get dry.

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