Thursday, August 28, 2008


A mate of mine, Ronan, is a friend of last year’s captain at Ballycastle. He was trying to arrange for me and the ex-captain to play together, and I emailed him recently with the date I was due to play there. I heard nothing.

Then I got a phone call from Ronan, who had been on holiday in Sardinia for two weeks with his family. He’d just got my email.

“Where are you?” he asked.

I had to laugh. Talk about perfect timing. “I’m on the 6th at Ballycastle,” I replied. I was on my own, and despite a frantic phone call from Ronan to his friend, we never managed to hook up. It was a wet and miserable afternoon, and once again I found myself grumbling about Irish weather – a sociable pint would have been the perfect tonic. I made do with dinner on the top level of the clubhouse which offers excellent views over the course and sea. To be blunt, I always find it rather odd when all this money is pumped into the clubhouse when it could be better used on the golf course.

There was a major annual fair going on in the town, with various carnival rides dotted around, and the screams of kids carrying all the way up to the hilltop holes. It looked like a blast of entertainment, but I cursed it before and afterwards, because it made this seaside town impassable. I still have no idea how I got to my next course, Gracehill Golf Club, as I followed one diversion sign after another and eventually found the road I was looking for.

Ballycastle is an interesting medley of holes, combining parkland, links and hilltop. Perhaps the 9th is the best hole, and it certainly starts the rise up the hill that offers stunning views of the coast, the glens and Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre.

It should also be noted that the Giant’s Causeway is not far away. Even closer is the Rope Bridge. Think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and you’ll get the general idea.

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