Friday, August 22, 2008

County Armagh

Pics to follow

It seems hard to believe that only a few days ago I was sitting at home watching the news, looking at pictures of Northern Ireland under water. I’m going there next week, I thought, wondering if my camper van could float. The reports said that a month’s rainfall had fallen in a day and the pictures of Belfast’s new motorway underwater emphasised just how bad things were.

I phoned the courses at the start of this trip and they all said that they were open. Even so, when I arrived in County Armagh I was expecting a bog. It wasn’t like that at all, and it just goes to show how good drainage can make all the difference. I imagine Portadown, which I played a few weeks ago, must have been in dire straits as the lower holes sit on a flood plain.

I hooked up with Stuart on the 1st tee. 24 years old, 2 handicap and hits his irons dead straight. The flags on the par threes must have been nervous as he pounded all of them into submission. He got a couple of birdies in a row, but it should have been four as he missed a couple of shortish putts. In fairness, the greens weren’t in the best of shape after the rain – that’s my excuse anyway.

The obelisk that sits behind the 10th and 13th greens is a stunning landmark that adds huge drama to these two holes, but it is often visible as you make your way around this tight, entertaining course. And if you have a good score going, you need to be very careful on the final three holes. 16 is Index 1, but the 18th is harder and can wreck a card – like mine (triple bogey).

And it helps that County Armagh sits right on the edge of town – although you’d never know it when you’re playing.

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